I don't even remember when I started to like rapper French Montana. I actually remember disliking him quite a bit when he was grinding it out with his mixtape/DVD series, Cocaine City. I've heard others say that French Montana is only as good as the features on his songs. For myself, at least at first, this was partly true as I found myself only listening to him when he was on songs with the rappers I did like. Then he released this song:
Shot Caller. Only featuring unknown (to me) rapper Charlie Rock on the hook, "Shot Caller" wormed it's way into my brain through my ears and refused to come out. What was it about this song? For one, that beat. The sweet horn sample over those trap style drums is infectious. The beat was produced by Harry Fraud, for whom now is one of my favourite producers in the game. Second, the hook. I still don't know who Charlie Rock is but that hook is catchy as hell. And French...yeah he's there.
When a song catches steam in hip-hop, you are sure to hear a remix in the near future. Having signed to a joint deal with both Diddy and Rick Ross' labels that's who added their verses to the song. I like Diddy (most of the time), I like Rick Ross, therefore I should like the remix. And I did. But something was missing. The infectious beat was the same, minus a few momentary change ups. The catchy hook was the same. But there was less French Montana. How did this happen?
I didn't even admit that I liked French Montana right away but from thereon in I paid attention. The more I listened to him the more I enjoyed him. French is far (quite far) from my favourite rapper. I think most hip hop heads would tell you that lyrically, French Montana is not great. I will still listen to a French Montana verse and shake my head in disappointment, like "really, did he really say that?" But its not always about what you say, but how you say it.
French's voice is always smooth even when threatening. There's something about the way he flows over the beat. And there's just something about the way he enunciates. Maybe it's his Moroccan upbringing (French Montana moved to Brooklyn when he was 13) but the way he slurs all over the track just sounds so good. You don't even really have to understand what he's saying. You may not understand the words but you understand the swag.
If you search the word "Fanute" on Twitter you'll see people using that word to mean "to swap out or to upgrade". French Montana uses that word in Rick Ross' song "Stay Scheming" only French didn't mean to say "Fanute", he was actually saying "from the hoopty to coupe". You know you're on to something when you create slang without knowing you're creating slang. That's swag.
In my opinion, French Montana is only as good as the beat he's flowing on. Which is great because I love the beats he raps to. He holds the beat down, like a good friend. And I'm looking forward to his major label debut "Excuse My French". He's already scored a number one hit with "Pop That" featuring Drake, Rick Ross and Lil' Wayne (it's hard to miss with that line up) and he hopes to expand his fan base with guest stars The Weeknd, Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, Travis Barker, Nicki Minaj, MIA and probably most surprisingly, Lana Del Rey.
I may not always know what he's saying but as long as the beats are hot, I will listen. I don't think he's speaking french, but he's excused.