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French Montana, NY On Top: Year Of The Underdog

During his ascent over the last few years, French Montana has released a bevy of mixtapes and steadfastly put on for his Coke Boys crew. His biggest hit to date, “Shot Caller,” spawned from a mixtape cut into a radio smash, and features Coke Boy member Charlie Rock. With his latest offering, NY On Top: Year Of The Underdog, the 2012 XXL Freshman continues the trend, as he brings his crew along to help slang that raw music from the New York streets.

Though the tape is presented with only French’s name on the cover, the only cut he appears on solo is the penultimate “Wild Boy (Remix),” a half a minute snippet of his labelmate Machine Gun Kelly’s recent remade release of his single. The rest of the songs offer some combination of French, Chinx Drugz, Cokeboy Flip, Charlie Rock and Cheeze, with Maino, Tyga, YG and Akon also popping up.

Early on, the Bad Boy signee serves up the catchy, though not vocally varying, sung hooks that helped heat up songs like “Stay Schemin’,” “Everything That Glitters,” and “Ghetto Boy.” The tape’s opener, “Dreamchaser” (with Cokeboy Flip, Cheeze and Charlie Rock) is somber and effective, and the vibe and formula persists with “I Want You” (with Chinx Drugz and Cokeboy Flip) and “Cokeboy Killaz Theme” (with Chinx Drugz). The Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg remake “Keep Their Heads Ringin'” is a go getta anthem, while French and Maino team up to do what the title says for “Drop A Gem On Em.”

Neither French nor his Coke Boys will dazzle lyrically, but they have found a format of cooking up addictive street music and are aiming to be the first crew from the New York City pavement positioned for hip-hop relevance in nearly a decade. In the meantime, as he reminds with NY On Top: Year Of The Underdog, French Montana is eager to maneuver his way to the top of the game. —Adam Fleischer

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