Becoming an overnight success in the music industry can take years, and French Montana hasn’t always been draped in Versace silk. After pulling the plug on his debut album release date in July of last year for an opportunity to join Drake’s Club Paradise Tour, the moment he’s been waiting for has finally arrived: Excuse My French is here.
Still following the traditional hand-to-hand mixtape blueprint at this time two years ago, French Montana had already been serving the streets without any major-label backing for more than a decade. The Bronx-raised rapper was forced to find comfort in his arduous underdog status as he tried proving himself over and over again, portioning out upwards of fifteen mixtapes and thirteen installments of his Cocaine City DVD series to make a name for himself in NYC’s hip hop game. Fast-forward to the present day and Montana’s voice is all over the radio, blasting out of car windows and night clubs. He’s palling around with Maxim’s Hot 100 chart-topper Miley Cyrus, guesting on numerous hip hop tracks, and his long-awaited debut album is quite literally brimming with big-name features.
Not heralded for crafting sophisticated bars, it’s Montana’s relentless execution and je ne sais quoi ability to tap into the appeal of the streets that are his biggest assets. After a 6-month deal with Akon in 2009, French, born Karim Kharbouch, triggered a record-label courting period that eventually led to business relationships with both MMG and Bad Boy in late 2011.
Now comfortably seated at tables with hip hop elitists Puffy and Rick Ross – both of whom are Excuse My French’s executive producers – Montana can catch his breath.
In an exclusive interview with VH1, the Moroccan-born rapper takes a break from his tough persona to have a light-hearted chat about ladies, his favorite NYC hang-outs, the ad-libs that inspire him, and the wild ride that’s been his hip hop ascent.