I said they had amnesia about everything: the City of cocaine DVDs, the Coke Boys era, from Chinx to Max B collaborations, âFrench Montana tells me. “I felt like they had amnesia about my accomplishments.” The rapper has spent the past two years out of the limelight, partly to focus on fatherhood, partly to focus on his health. He quit drinking after being hospitalized in 2019 for exhaustion – or, as he put it, “showed up too much”.
Montana’s new album, They have amnesia, plays on the idea that some rap fans sleep on his work. But anyone who remembers, say, 2009 Coca wave – his collaborative band with Max B, an east coast version of what Thug and Rich Homie Quan are to the south – recognizes French as a very important New York figure. If Max was the street legend of the 2000s, the Gotham singer and rap singer, the Frenchman – who grew up in Morocco before moving to New York City as a teenager – was his muscle, with a dizzying delivery in the South Bronx that would get him to sign Puff’s Daddy’s Bad Boy Records. the Cocaine city The DVDs functioned as a documentary for the streets of New York, and Montana and Max kept New York afloat when Roc-a-Fella disbanded and G-Unit began bickering like the Roy family (the 50 being Logan). Despite a few disappointing verses and a few trending trends in the years that followed, New Yorkers with Yankee hats who thrive in disgust have not forgotten French Montana.
They have amnesia follows a French model set up during Obama’s second term, when he showed he was one of hip-hop’s first collaborative artists. Features are rife with Lil Durk, Doja Cat, 42 Dugg, and Saweetie making appearances, among many others. Just like Pop Smoke, a friend with whom French recorded frequently. (The French was even supposed to hang out with Pop Smoke the night before he was killed.) The French also shows daring in his songwriting; he is motivated, and it is his best record since 2012 Mac and Cheese 3 ribbon. (All was not quiet during French’s mini-hibernation – last year he and his business partner were prosecuted for allegedly sexually assaulting a drunk woman. The case is still ongoing. When asked to comment, French declined to talk about the trial.) We caught up with the French to talk about They have amnesia, his friend Pop Smoke, and how the game has changed.
What have you been doing in recent years?
My son is getting old, so I was a father. I spent time outdoors just to focus on my health, especially my mental health. Sometimes you are trying to make money and you forget to rest your body.
You got to the 2000s, where mixtapes were real street tapes, and albums were albums. Those lines are sort of blurry now. Everything has to be retailed. What is that dynamic for you as a veteran of the game?
Man, this is actually something that I got used to. Either you know what’s going on or you end up with the dinosaurs. Do you know what I’m saying? When we first came out, YouTube was a platform, and then WorldStar took over. Then for me, even when I was a kid, I would buy tapes and watch them turn into CDs. It’s the same thing. Like CDs to streaming play now. So you just have to adapt, shape your own style around what’s current.
Does that make it easier?
There are definitely ups and downs with everything. I just want to adapt to City of cocaine to the music thing. It’s like, you walk in, you figure out who’s the best, you see what they do, you put your own style on. You make it yours. Everyone has the possibility to appropriate what they want by attaching their style to it.
Tell me about seeing New York rappers receive their flowers.
Oh, I love it, man. New York is like the Chicago Bulls when Michael Jordan was playing. It is the mecca of hip-hop. I feel like when you get out of here, it’s not about rapping, making songs. 80 percent you are who you are. And culture, right down to the roots. What was your story, who do you know, who vouched for you?
Because so many things that go with it. You could be from somewhere else, you don’t have to go through it. It’s like, “Oh, do you have a dope song? All right, let’s get on the radio. But there are ups and downs to it. The ups are, once you learn and get past all the obstacles you will last a very long time in the game. This is what artists like me, like Jadakiss, like Fab, a lot of artists are able to maintain their quality. star for years. It’s unheard of to come out of nowhere else.
What is your favorite memory while doing the Coca wave band with Max?
Being in love with the music and loving the process. I have the impression that a lot of people are not in love with the process. They always look at the game, like ‘let me go from point A to Z’. Everyone, as soon as you get into the game, you automatically want the Grammys, you automatically want those awards. You want the number one diamond single, you want a platinum album. But a lot of artists don’t appreciate the process and embrace the grind. I feel like I was really having fun kissing the grind. Even talking to him now, we still remember those moments.
Max has been in prison for over a decade. Have you spoken to him recently? How is he doing?
Max is doing very well. His mind is on a whole new level. He acts like I’m the locked one.
Were you aware of the City of cocaine impact when this happened?
City of cocaine was probably the first thing that showed me how fast the records go. It showed me how fast rappers go, so I was able to be a student of the game while gradually, slowly but steadily learning the process of being an artist. Learn the dos and don’ts of each artist. City of cocaine was my college.
Do young artists have this education?
I feel like artists have the chance to learn and study and the process, and through your growth and trials you can choose. “Alright, do I want to be here forever?” Alright, let me study some greats so that I can stay here forever. I don’t think people can choose that. You can’t cheat hustle and bustle, hustle knows exactly what you are doing. So if you want to be here forever, take the steps.
What is your state of mind on this record compared to the others?
It’s like the record I’ve always wanted to make. It felt like I was starting from scratch, but I wasn’t, I was starting from experience. I was talking this morning, there was this artist who drew a picture in 15 minutes, and billed a guy $ 2 million. And he said, “Why are you charging me $ 2 million for this painting?” It was like, “It took me 40 years of my life to be able to do this.” This is how I feel.
What are you trying to accomplish now?
Reach my peak. Reach my peak. I feel like I couldn’t reach my climax, I was distracted. I wasn’t standing on my right foot, I was digging too much into my hands. Worrying about other artists, worrying about this, worrying about that. Not in the right place in my head.
You have a single with Fivio Foreign on the album “Panicking”. How did it happen?
One thing about French Montana is that I test myself against all the artists who come from New York. Before that, Shmurda, where there was Lil Tjay who was dating for the first time, there was Pop Smoke when they were dating for the first time. No matter who came from New York, I will always show my support and bring the city together. Just to have those special moments. I’ve been doing this for a very long time.
Do you have any specific memories of Pop Smoke?
I had to go see him [the night he was killed] in LA, and I was at a strip club. He said to me, âYo, come to the cradle. We were going to go to the nursery, but it was already four in the morning. So I was like, âYo, let’s go to my place, I need to get some sleep. So instead of going to Pop Smoke’s birthplace, I went home. It just shows you, man. You have to be careful how you do it. If you are not in control of your life anything can happen. Treat each day on this path the way you want everyone to remember you. Don’t waste time wasting time.
Do you give advice?
I always give advice. I preach until they no longer want to listen. I remember meeting Pop and talking to him and my man was like ‘cool dude they don’t listen anymore. So I always try to play.
What does Allah mean to you?
There is a higher power. So you have to really understand where you are going and embrace it, and make sure that you and the Higher Power are on the same path. Some people get out of their way with God, and you won’t get as far as you can.
A few years ago you said you could outdo Kendrick if the two of you were headliners at a festival. Do you really think you can beat Kendrick?
That was awhile ago, man. The internet took it and worked with it but I wasn’t talking about Kendrick himself. I was just saying that I can go against anyone you suggest to me.
How often do you talk to Puff?
All the time. Whenever it’s time for work or fun, Puff and his energy are always there.