You can call rapper French Montana the ‘Shot Caller’
For French Montana, having one of the most anticipated hip-hop albums of the year was all part of the plan. Starting out with his own series of DVDs, the Moroccan-born, Bronx-bred rapper mixed artist interviews from the heavyweights in the game to garner attention for his own music. And it worked.
That street buzz, along with a heavy Internet presence (and a couple of hits like “Shot Caller” and “Pop That”) made him one of the most sought after MCs. It was also enough for both Diddy and Rick Ross to sign on to executive produce his debut album, “Excuse My French,” which comes out Tuesday. Montana counts himself lucky to have such mentors, especially since he believes it’s good business built on great relationships.
“If you could have Michael Jordan and Pat Riley coach you, why wouldn’t you?” he explains. “Guys like [Diddy] and Ross don’t move for money. They have to have love for you. That’s all I wanted: Someone that had love and cares about my music as much as I care about it.”
The love for French doesn’t end with Ross and Diddy.
The featured lineup for “Excuse My French” is filled with the genre’s A-list. Snoop, Lil Wayne, Ne-Yo, Drake, Nicki Minaj, The Weeknd and Scarface all make appearances. But why are hip-hop’s hitmakers coming out for somebody who had a rep as a troublemaker when he first entered the industry? Montana says the answer is simple.
“I just want to do things to get my mind off the negativity,” he says. “I just want to make music and have fun and be around positive people. I feel like they see them [in me] when they were on the come-up.”
The road to French’s first album has been a long one. But as the rapper readies himself for its release and his appearance at Hot 97’s 20th anniversary Summer Jam, he believes that a serious amount of self-confidence was the key to success.
“Nobody is going to help you if you don’t help yourself. It got to a point in my life where the person I was looking for to help me was myself. When I needed help, nobody helped me. But when I went out there and got it myself and got in position then everyone started helping me. Once you make up your mind and your back is against the wall and this has to work, then it’s going to work.”
French Montana album release party
Hosted by Funkmaster Flex, featuring Cipha Sounds with Bobby Trends, DJ Spynfo, Young Chow and DJ Kulcha
Tuesday, 10 p.m.
125 E. 11th St.