French Montana Official App
The streets are talking: French Montana is one of the hottest rappers in the game right now. And what the streets want, the streets shall get.
The Bronx representing rapper waded through a fierce bidding war when several labels began taking interest. Among these, were Def Jam, Warner-Bros. and Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music. Yet, when all was said and done, Montana came afloat announcing that he was ready to ride the wave with hip hop impresario Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Bad Boy Records (via Interscope Records).
The partnership, made possible due to Bad Boy president Harve Pierre, makes perfect sense. The label has earned a reputation of igniting the careers of bubbling street artists, transforming them into steaming hot hip hop game changers; a path which fit into French Montana’s vision.
Born Karim Kharbouch in Casablanca, Morocco, Montana immigrated to New York City with his family at age 13. His parents, seeking greater opportunity than what they could find in their native land, settled in The Bronx. While fluent in French and Arabic, Montana spoke only a small bit of English. However, he quickly became acclimated to Bronx culture, partly through his infatuation for hip-hop; an obsession which would later become his profession.
“I just love hip-hop. [At first] the rapping was just a hobby,” explains Montana. “I figured out it was a career when I got my first check, [after] I came out with the Cocaine City DVD. It was a winner from the jump.”
“Winning,” it was; but Montana is no new jack that got lucky. This shot caller's come up dates back almost a decade. When street DVD's were king, Montana's Cocaine City series, which he began dropping in 2002, were grassroots video royalty. Featuring raw and uncut interviews with both up-and-coming and established artists like Jadakiss, 50 Cent and Young Jeezy, each volume was also interspersed with music from Montana himself. “The DVDs were always the plan for me to get on as far as rapping,” says Montana. “It was a platform. It was a stepping stone.”
The next step in his journey to rap riches was solidifying his growing fanbase by dropping great music. Acclaimed projects including his Mac & Cheese and Coke Wave series of mixtapes established his rep as a hustler with legit rhyme skills that listeners could steadily gravitate to. Mixtapes, viral videos and songs like “Choppa Choppa Down,” featuring Waka Flocka Flame, only heightened Montana’s buzz.
That buzz was amplified with the release of his single, “Shot Caller,” in 2011. The song became a runaway smash, earning major airplay across the nation and certifying Montana as the next big rapper out of NYC. “I just caught on fire. They say every couple of years someone comes and sweeps the streets,” says Montana. “First it was DMX, then it was 50. I guess it’s my turn now.”