French Montana Plays to His Strengths on ‘MC4′
This probably wasn’t the rollout French Montana was hoping for with MC4, a sophomore album that would confirm his hit-making abilities to the rap game and beyond. Short for Mac & Cheese 4, the rapper was hoping to follow up his acclaimed Mac & Cheese mixtape series by making the fourth installment an actual album. However, since the project was announced back in 2013, its release has essentially been cursed. French first announced that the project would be dropping in 2014, which obviously didn’t happen. Instead, he dropped three different projects since then with MC4 nowhere to be seen.
But hope was not lost. During summer 2016, French, now firmly inked with both Bad Boy and Epic Records, shared that MC4 would drop on Aug. 19, but do to “sample clearance issues,” he pushed the album back indefinitely. To make matters worse, Target prematurely sold the album in CD format on its initial release date, which resulted in a widespread leak of the project all over the Internet. French then decided to cancel the project entirely but not before it was made available for iTunes pre-order. That option was canceled and the project was finally released as mixtape with the original name, tracklist and features -- certainly not quite the rollout one expects for their sophomore album.
Album, mixtape or whatever you want to call it, MC4 still has hits. Even though it didn't have the smoothest release or didn’t generate enough hype as L.A. Reid would say, the project still has a handful of songs that bang pretty hard. French holds his own here but the features are welcomed. “No Shopping” brings the heat, which is in large part to Drake's verse in which he takes aim at Joe Budden and Murda Beatz’s catchy production.
In fact, that’s what French’s albums are best for; a collection of hits with lots of slapping beats and big features. That’s no knock to French but he still seems a bit more concerned with how many “Haaaans” he can squeeze into one song than crafting a show-stopping verse. “Figure It Out” knocks because of Kanye and Nas, “Said N Done” gets the assist from A$AP Rocky and "Have Mercy" features collabos from Beanie Sigel, Jadakiss and Styles P.
However, French takes the lead on more than his usual share of tracks. “2 Times” and “Heated” are great examples of the Bronx rapper pulling off album cuts without the help of his rap game counterparts. As admirable as rapping alone for three minutes is for French, tracks like "Lockjaw," where he and Kodak Black harmonize “Still caught up in the streets and the feds still knockin'/It be hard to understand me, my jaw keep lockin'/It be hard to understand me 'cause my jaw keep lockin'/Bite down, bite down” have strong replay value.
What he does on MC4 is play to his strengths. French knows he isn’t a lyrical miracle but recognizes what it takes to make a strong rap song whether he plays point guard or not. In essence, French is a role player whose albums give life to a lot of great tracks with a hit factor. The fact that he knows, owns and delivers that formula makes him impenetrable.
Surely French would give anything to have a second chance at this project’s rollout but this is hip-hop, where nothing ever goes according to plan. All French can do is get back in the lab and continue doing what he does best: making hits and dropping "Haaans."
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