Q&A With French Montana: Talks Indie Grind, Diddy’s Business

By Zac Shull   /   Published 02/06/12

French MontanaIn life, it can take years to acquire your dreams, whether its fame or fortune. Many times, we see a new star blow up in music and it seems like it happened over night. Most times, if the artist is truly talented, this is not the case. Your favorite rapper today was someone else's favorite rapper last year. This is the case for Bad Boy's newest signee, French Montana.

Frenchie has been bubbling under the radar for a few years now. With a slew of mixtapes, his own DVD brand ("Cocaine City"), and a previous partnership/record contract with Akon, the rapper has accomplished a lot in a few years.

In a recent interview with BallerStatus.com, French Montana talks Puff Daddy vs. Kanye West, his incarcerated partner-in-rhyme Max B, making the transition from street rap to mainstream appeal, and his new album, Pardon My French.

BallerStatus.com: We were reading about why you signed with Puff over anyone else. We have a theory about that as well. It seems like Puff is more into the business side, like endorsements and stuff, whereas Kanye is mostly in the studio and doing music. Is that part of why you signed with Puff too?

French Montana: Yea that is definitely part of the reason. Music is cool, but all rappers will tell you that most of their money doesn't come from music. Most of the money comes from shows and touring and stuff, so you got to find other avenues.

BallerStatus.com: You have been around the scene for a minute, did you know Puff at all prior to this?

French Montana: I met him. I mean, everybody knows Puff, but I didn't meet him till a few months ago.

BallerStatus.com: What about Kanye?

French Montana: I just met him a little while ago too.

BallerStatus.com: You announced the deal and seems like the machines wheels are moving already. Do you have an actual release date yet?

French Montana: They gave me a release date, but I didn't take it.

BallerStatus.com: You got some clout over there...

French Montana: Yea well, "Shot Caller" is the #1 most picked up record right now. You know, I got a big buzz.

BallerStatus.com: Did you make that record before you linked up with Puff and then you brought it to the table?

French Montana: Yea.

BallerStatus.com: You got a follow-up record to it? If so, does that mean you have a general direction for your album, as far as features and production?

French Montana: Yea, the album I got the whole Coke Boyz, Max B, Puff and Rick Ross. That's probably about it.

BallerStatus.com: Rick Ross is executive producing the album right?

French Montana: Puff is executive producing the album too.

BallerStatus.com: How does that work? You send them some records they go over them and then you also record together?

French Montana: Yea, we work on the whole thing together from scratch. They both got a good track record with albums and I am going to bring my whole wave to it.

BallerStatus.com: Speaking of wave, I was with producer J. Cardim the other night. I am from Philly, so we don't say wave and wavy, but he told me how you come through by your self with a bottle and he said you guys get wavy.

French Montana: Yea that's my brother. Shout out to J. Cardim, he's definitely going to be on the album.

BallerStatus.com: I interviewed Max Blast summer when he was in jail, and he said he would be out before the summer was out. Do you have any updates on his situation?

French Montana: Yea, he will be out soon... at some point. He's working on his appeal.

BallerStatus.com: If he was out right now, what do you think his situation would be? You think you guys would of done like an album together?

French Montana: Hell yea and if he was home right now, he'd be the hottest n**** out in the streets.

BallerStatus.com: How did you guys first link up? Do you remember like the first time meeting him?

French Montana: Yea, we had some mutual friends and it was a beautiful thing. That's my brother we hit it off right away.

BallerStatus.com: The two of you made some classic videos/interviews all over the Internet.

French Montana: Yea it's all-natural too. Some of them are hilarious. We just get drunk and get real wavy, start laughing and cracking jokes.

BallerStatus.com: Do you think you help each other's music?

French Montana: Definitely, that's what I loved about him. He motivated me. Now I got Puff and Ross motivating me, but Max is a huge motivator.

BallerStatus.com: You have accomplished a lot already before the Puff deal. What is your secret to your success so far?

French Montana: Just hard work man. Keep pushing and grinding and stay out of other people's business.

BallerStatus.com: You have your own crew called The Coke Boyz, and I got a lot of questions from people about the name. Do you feel like that name could limit your mainstream potential, as far as endorsements and stuff?

French Montana: It will on the corporate side, but we aren't there yet. When we did it, we did it for the streets. When we get to the corporate side, we got ways to get around that. It's just like N.W.A. -- N****s With Attitudes -- or Murder Inc. too. They all got around it.

BallerStatus.com: Or, you could just get Coke Cola to cut you a check too?

French Montana: (laughs) Yea no doubt.

BallerStatus.com: You moved here from Morocco when you were young. Did you listen to hip-hop over there?

French Montana: Yea, I listened to Tupac, Snoop, Biggie and Wu-Tang -- I came up on that era.

BallerStatus.com: I can hear that in your music definitely, when you say things like return of the funky child. ("Funky Child" is a song from the group, Lords of the Underground, from 1993).

French Montana: Yea man, I just love music and hip-hop.

BallerStatus.com: It seems like a lot of guys come into this just for the money, but a lot also genuinely love the music. You seem like the type that actually likes the music.

French Montana: I love being in the studio, that's why I put out so much music. I love working where some dudes just do it when the check is there.

BallerStatus.com: How did the "Cocaine City" DVD have come about?

French Montana: It was a way for me to showcase my talents. Every rapper had a DJ, so for me, this was like another way for me to come in. I would host the tape or whatever and put other people on.

BallerStatus.com: You just picked up the DVD game and learned it and then took it over?

French Montana: Yea, I figured it out and took it over and then I did the same to the rap game (laughs). It's all about being a perfectionist and doing hard work. I believe strongly in hard work.

BallerStatus.com: Who are you listening to right now?

French Montana: I listen to Coke Boyz: Part 3 we got coming out, the new Rick Ross mixtape (Rich Forever, and a bunch of instrumentals.

BallerStatus.com: I like the joint you did with Pusha T on DJ Drama's album. Have you done any songs with Kanye?

French Montana: We were supposed to, but it never happened. He went on tour right after I sent him a record and I am waiting to hear back from him. We were in the process of starting to work together, then he went on tour. So, I am waiting to hear from him.

BallerStatus.com: Any advice to new rappers trying to come up?

French Montana: Yea help yourself, don't wait for anyone else. That's the biggest thing. Don't wait for a hand out, go out and do it yourself.

BallerStatus.com: I can see why you signed with Puff. What was it like not only working with someone you looked up to, but signing with them too?

French Montana: It's a beautiful thing. It feels good to be recognized for your talent and hard work. After a lot of sleepless nights, I am starting to get my fair shot and that's all I wanted -- was my shot.

BallerStatus.com: Any last words to the fans?

French Montana: Thanks for the support. I gotta bunch of new stuff coming out including Coke Boyz 3, Mac Wit The Cheese 3 and the album, Pardon My French.