There’s a famous saying that goes, “Style is knowing who you are, and not giving a damn.” But for XXL’s March/April cover boy French Montana, style is, as he puts it, everything. In his cover story, which hit newsstands earlier this week on February 19, the 2012 XXL Freshman kept it one hundred as he touched on everything from getting shot in the head to his incarcerated pal Max B and wanting to work with Adele. But with all those interesting facts, there were a few other items that didn’t get to make the Coke Boy general’s spread. On a cool January afternoon inside Brooklyn’s Fast Ashleys Studios, French spoke with XXL about being one of rap’s most freshly dipped, his definition of style and why Versace is being “whored out” these days. Don’t stop…—Ralph Bristout (@RalphieBlackmon)


XXL: How does it feel to be recognized as one of the most fashion-forward MCs in the game?

French Montana: I think this just come from us being fly, young, coming up. We used to watch everybody, all the pimps and hustlers, make all the money hustling and spend it all on clothes, jewelry and shit like that— that’s where it [came from]. It’s just from watching drug dealers and dope dealers buying clothes and jewelry. The flyest people is the ones that spend all their money on clothes and jewelry. I grew up from that era so it just kind of stuck with me.

You made a transition from rocking streetwear favorites like the Pelle Pelle leathers, etc. to now wearing Versace and and brands like that.

Yeah, I’m wearing the same shit Jesus used to wear [Laughs]. They kind of whored Versace out, I’m almost done with it, man. But you can never be done with Versace because Versace is Versace. But I kind of [brought] it back to where now it makes people comfortable with wearing it. I just did it different. Instead of me getting the shirt, I get the shirt, the belt, the scarf, etc. Sometimes it’s not even about what you wearing or how much it cost you, it’s about who’s wearing it.

What does style mean to you?

Style is everything. People now buy into you because of you. A lot of people in the game change and it kind of made a transition to where music is only a part of what makes the artist. Yeah you have the best line, yeah you’re the best rapper but, if you don’t live what you rap about and the people don’t want to look like you than it’s like, you’re not really doing it. It’s like you’re lying to us. Why is you rapping about $1,000 jeans and all you wearing is basketball shorts? That’s why most artists that aren’t fly; they clothing lines and shit like that hasn’t been successful. Because if you’re not fly, then how you gonna tell us what to wear? Then put it in stores and charge $200 a T-shirt? So fashion plays a real big role.

What goes into making your style choice?

First it comes with, is it out or not? Second, is it something that looks good on me? Third, is it something that’s [so] funny-looking that next year I’ll look back at pictures and be like, Why the fuck did I wear that? You really gotta know what you doing and you got to have people around you that are grounded and wont let you wear no crazy-looking shit.

Tell me about the Coke Boys apparel line.

We got the new line that’s about to drop this spring. Me and my homeboy, we grew up together and he always been a fly dude, so he kind of took over the clothing line. I’m letting him rock with it.

You had a big year in 2012. Congrats on “Pop That” selling so well.

Thank you. “Pop That” is platinum. Hopefully we’ll go platinum on the album too.  We got bigger things coming up this year. We got “Marble Floors,” and I think we gonna go with “Ocho Cinco” next.  We working on shooting a video for “Marble Floors,” a video for “Ocho Cinco,” and we’re working on shooting a video with The Weeknd next week.

So that’ll be the next single?

Yeah. Me and Ne-Yo also working on something. We got a lot of people.