(Photo Via: Thiiswalder)
At Daddy’s House recording studio in Midtown, in the exact studio where Notorious B.I.G recorded Life After Death, French Montana is putting the finishing touches on his first studio album, Excuse My French (out December 13th). After a decade long reign as NYC’s Underground King, the Moroccan-born but Bronx-bred rapper isn’t feeling the pressure to hit the market like some of rap’s other “newcomers.” Instead, Montana is focusing on adding more flash to his signature rhymes, taking on advice from P.Diddy over at camp Bad Boy. During our sit-down, we got a chance to preview some of French Montana’s new album – it features M.I.A, Drake, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Lana Del Rey, The Weeknd, and more – but we also got the inside scoop on his style choices (Versace shirts, and micro-fiber boxers). You sure you’re ready for the King?
Favorite Rappers Growing Up In Morocco?
I listened to real hip-hop; Wutang, Big, Pac. [I listened to] A lot of Tupac, a lot of Big, Jay-Z and Nas–Nas was one of my favorite rappers.
You’re A Rap Vet, But Only Just Got Chosen For That Infamous XXL “Freshman” Cover
I’ve been in the game for a while but I only got signed a year ago. I feel like everything before [doesn't] count–it was just me. All of [the rappers] made the Freshman List in [our] own kind of way. When Vanessa (XXL‘s Editor-in-Chief) asked me to be on [the list], I kind of didn’t want to be on it.
Because It Could Break Your Career?
I feel like it depends if you’re a ‘certain’ kind of artist, it’ll set you up for failure because they boost you up like you’re the hottest and if you don’t drop [anything] you just fall on your face. With me, I was kind of like, “I’m going to do what I do, regardless” [of if I make the list].
(Photo Via: Bad Boy Records, Shot Caller Video)
Of All The Labels, You Went With Bad Boy/MMG…Why?
When I made my decision, I felt like going somewhere where they needed me. I didn’t want to go somewhere where they just wanted me as an extra artist. Just my relationship with the [Bad Boy] people when I sat down and spoke to them…you know what you want to do before you do it. If someone needs you, they’re going to go all the way out for you.
So Diddy’s Helped You With Your Career And Your Sound?
Definitely, my verses get better and better every day. You learn the game, you learn techniques about the game, especially being around people like Puff, [and] like Kanye. The way they [both] just take a beat, and when it comes back to you the beat doesn’t even sound the same anymore. They tailor the music.
You Really Enjoy Fashion, Think Hip-Hop’s Had An Effect On Style?
Fashion’s always been hip-hop. I mean look at when Coogi sweaters first came out with B.I.G. and they [exploded]. Look at when Jay-Z made everyone wear button-ups at one time. As corny as button ups [were], he made everyone wear ‘em.
(Photo Via: Ignacio Torres/NBC News)
What’s Up With Those Versace Silk Shirts?
I keep Versace for my special moments. You can’t overdo nothing! You gotta come [correct] at special moments. If I wake up and I feel like I need some silk on my body, I put it on. If I wake up and I feel like Jesus, I just put some Versace on. Ha. We gotta start up the trending topic #VersaceMontana!
Yes, We Do.
(Photo Via: Vibe Magazine)
So, Who’s Got More Swagger: Diddy or Rick Ross?
You can’t really compare them because Diddy fits everything, Ross doesn’t fit everything. Rozay is swagged out for someone who’s from Miami. Rozay kind of reminds me of B.I.G. Everyone loves a fat guy wearing everything, you stand out. But Puff did the shiny suits and made them hot.
Exactly. Ok, So 5 Wardrobe Essentials For Every Guy?
1. Polo Tees 2. Levis (no pants fit or last as long as Levis) 3. A good watch, even if all your jewelry’s fake, your watch has gotta be real. 4. Air Force Ones…classics 5. Microfiber draws…and don’t get caught out there with white draws!
What’s The Track Off The New Album That Will Surprise Long-Time Fans?
‘Gifted’ featuring The Weeknd.
Got Any Pressure On Your Shoulders With Your First Studio Album?
There was, not anymore. Now I feel like I’m done with it, I have little bits and pieces to do. I feel like I’m going to have a classic album, I’m happy about it. I feel like I worked extra hard on it. Excuse My French is going to be the best piece to come out from the East Coast in a while.
That’s A B.I.G. Statement.