Topics: Entertainment, NZ Music

Māori beatmaker Montell2099 releases new single with major American rapper

By Jessica Tyson, Te Kāea
Montell2099 and 21 Savage - Photo / Jesse Lirola

A Māori beatmaker has teamed up with a major American rapper to release his first new single today.

Montell Pinny, also known as Montell2099, is an electronic artist originally from Katikati and recently travelled to Los Angeles to produce Hunnid on the Drop with rapper 21 Savage.

The 21-year-old from Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāi Te Rangi is reported to be one of the most exciting new electronic music talents to emerge from New Zealand.

He says working with 21 Savage was “surreal”.

“I still find it buzzy how far I’ve come in the past three years. I was making beats at my grandparents’ house in a little town. Then a couple of years later I’m in a studio in LA making a track with 21 Savage.”

21 Savage burst onto the scene in 2014 and has gained attention collaborating with artists such as Drake, Future, Mike WiLL Made-It and Meek Mill.

Montell has played at festivals including Rhythm and Vines, performed in the US and just a month ago released an authorised remix of Lorde’s Green Light with fellow Kiwis SACHI, receiving over 135,000 streams on Soundcloud.

He says he was approached by Red Bull Sound Select with the idea of a collaboration.

"I made a list of artists I would like to work with and 21 Savage was one of the artists.  When Red Bull told me he was keen I went on a beat making spree. Within a couple days I had at least 20 ideas made for him. He chose the third beat I played for him and did his thing in the booth. Within a couple hours the track was done."

Montell grew up living on Te Rereatukahia Pā and was raised in a family that placed equal love and importance on music and technology.

When he was 14 his grandfather loaded FL Studio onto a computer, dropped Montell in front of it, and he never looked back.

"Growing up in the Pā was dope. Everybody's family so it was always good vibes. I had a lot of freedom growing up there," he says.

"Being Māori is a big thing for me. It helps keep me grounded and is a big part of who I am. Identity is really important now days."

Montell says he’s happy to see more Māori producers coming through.  "Māori are pretty known for things like kapa haka, performing arts and having mean singing voices. But I do see a lot of talented Māori beat makers coming through. It’s becoming more normal.”

He hopes his new single will inspire and motivate young kids from New Zealand to do what they love and follow their dreams.

Montell2099 is joined on stage by 21 Savage at Red Bull Sound Select curated by Brownies & Lemonade in LA last week - Photo / Koury Angelo

Montell2099 is joined on stage by 21 Savage at Red Bull Sound Select curated by Brownies & Lemonade in LA last week - Photo / Koury Angelo