Cover Story Issue 25: PARDONEZ LE FRANҪAIS – French Montana Aims for the Throne
PARDONEZ LE FRANҪAIS
French Montana Aims for the Throne
“I wake up in the mornin’ to a fresh start / Let’s talk / Countin’ up the bread be the best part / Yellow Mazzaraati / Coke Boyz license plate / Nice day / Dealin’ through the hurdles gettin’ life straight…” And just like that, French Montana is Ready to Go…
Ready to Go…
I spent my day trying to figure out just what to say. Of course this wasn’t my first celebrity interview, and it surely won’t be the last, but there was something different about this one. This was French Montana. This was going to be a cover story. This one had to be different. Every time I questioned the questions I came up with, I silently reminded myself of that episode of The Cosby Show where Claire and her former classmates sat around and reminisced about that one professor that constantly challenged them to “dig deeper!” So I dug, and then, the phone rang…
“Hello, is this Kent?”
“Yes…this is Kent. How are you?”
“What up! It’s French! We just chillin’ in the studio getting’ some work done. So let’s talk!”
And just like that, I was ready to go. The cover story that had me in an invisible frenzy instantly turned in to a casual conversation that seemed more like playing catch-up with a friend than interviewing one of hip-hop’s hottest acts right now. While I listened to him review new tracks, discuss these tracks with associates, and even gave in my two cents on what they should have for dinner that night, French Montana gave us an exclusive behind-the-scenes look in to where he is now in music and how he got there.
Excuse My French…
Born Karim Karbouch in Rabat, Morocco, French Montana exploded onto the hip-hop scene hit [strip] clubs across the nation when Pop That blared through the speakers of the States. A symphony of syncopated sound, the contagious beat paired with French’s fluid lyrics made the single an instant hit with the masses. Now, with the recent release of his latest single Freaks featuring hip-hop queen Barbie, Nicki Minaj, as a precursor to his debut album Excuse My French, French Montana is making it very plain that he is about to shake up the world. Excuse his French, but this is what he needs to say…
“It’s just a lifestyle. It’s the life that I live every day,” says French when asked about the stories within his debut album. “One day I might wake up in a bad mood and make a song about that. One day I might be with a lady and make a song on that; I’ll be in a good mood and write about that. The album is just all the different emotions I go through on a daily basis.” Set to be released on May 21, 2013, Excuse My French is essentially summed up in the album’s title itself: French begs your pardon, but this is him. This album is his life, and he’s not ashamed. You can either love it, or leave it alone. With a promo tour running from February 26th to March 26th, French gives the fans their own look at how his art imitates his life. “You can definitely expect a full set of my best songs, and a lot of special guests. Just the wave music…the music we love making. It’s gonna be a good time!”
With all the work going in to the release of his debut, French Montana is definitely looking forward to one thing afterwards.
“Vacation! You can expect a vacation from me >laughs<. I’m just gonna go clear my mind and come back with a bunch new stuff for everybody.”
French Montana, Featuring…
Maintaining his mainstream popularity, French’s latest single Freaks with Nicki Minaj was released in February, and is already a hit with the masses. “It’s a little something for the ladies. I do so much gangsta music and stuff like that, that I wanted to give the ladies something for Valentine’s Day, so I got with Nicki and did the single. She was the perfect person to get together with on that track. We had a good time.” Who better but Nicki Minaj? With her army of Barbz and Kenz ready to go to war for anything with her voice on it, French Montana knew was he was doing with this collaboration. The fans freak for Freaks, and it’s only right.
Speaking of collaborations, French Montana does have some dream features he would love to do. Paying homage to the greats, French recognizes those that came before him and paved the way for artists like himself. “I would say my dream collab would probably be something with Tupac [rest in peace]. He was my favorite artist and I grew up listening to him. I have a lot of respect for the work he did, and it would be an honor to be on a track with him.”
French also draws inspiration from the most unexpected of colleagues. Contributing to maintaining an eclectic diversity that will always keep French fresh, he explains, “I get inspiration from everybody: artists like Adele, Cold Play. I would love to work with them, and give the fans a little something different. I always wanna outdo myself and change it up. I think collaborations with artists like that would be a great look.” Giving the fans what they want, but something they don’t necessarily expect. It only makes sense.
In the Beginning…
In all the excitement of the start of 2013, French Montana still looks back at everything that brought him to where he is now. From the passion that brought him to the game to the feeling he had the first time he heard his song on the radio, French explains why he does what he does, and what keeps him grounded. “The love for [the music got me started]. I grew up loving it. It just affects how I feel every day: I love listening to it and playing it. I just love it. I listen to everything; all types of music all the time.” Even in all his love for music, however, he admits it’s not all for him. “Not heavy metal though >laughs<. I never understand what they’re saying! All you hear is ‘AAAAAHHHH!!!’ >laughs< I don’t know what that is!”
“And how did you feel the first time you heard your song on the radio?”
“It was a beautiful thing. You work so hard to get somewhere, then you see [something like] that and you just feel good. Seeing all your hard work become reality really makes you feel like you’re doing it.”
French’s passion for the music is so great that he doesn’t even know what he would be doing if it wasn’t for his music. “To be honest with you, I don’t even know. I don’t know what I’d be doing [if it wasn’t music]. Just rolling with the punches I guess. Music is always what I wanted to do, and I’m just blessed to be able to do what I always wanted to do.” I heard somewhere once that if you do what you love, you’ll never have to go to work a day in your life. French Montana definitely has that covered, although it isn’t always fun and games. When I asked him the best and worst part of being French Montana, he broke it down like this, “It’s a gift and a curse, you know? God never gives you something without taking something away. It’s just up to you to keep your head up and realize that you’re blessed. Just stand up and roll with the punches.”
A Word to the Wise…
Behind the all gangster lyrics, club bangers, and hip-hop lifestyle, French Montana has shown himself to be a vessel of knowledge for those who will listen. From his own humble beginnings in Morocco to his superstardom of today, he knows the path to take to pursue your dreams, and he has these words for all those who refuse to give up on theirs:
“Always believe in yourself, and stop looking for people to help you help yourself. When it comes right down to it, you need to know how to help yourself by yourself because sometimes there won’t be people there to lean on. You have to hold yourself up when nobody else can.”
You have to hold yourself up when nobody else can. I think Beyoncé’s stage manager said it best in her documentary with “Nobody needs to help muthaf*ckin Frank be Frank!” And that, in a nutshell, sums up Montana’s French. He got himself to where he is in the game now. You may not always like what he has to say, but please excuse his French, because he’s going to say it anyway. Now…POP THAT!
Are you ready for your French lesson? Follow French Montana on Twitter @FrencHMonTanA for the latest updates on his Excuse My French Tour. Don’t forget to follow me @HumblyVain and Bleu Magazine @BleuMagazine for the latest in Bleu News!
Words by Kent Olden
EXCUSE MY FRENCH is set for release on May 21, 2013. The EXCUSE MY FRENCH TOUR starts February 26, 2013 and runs until March 26, 2013. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit www.FrenchMontanaMusic.com.