Living Life
With his name now regularly in the mainstream gossip blogs nowadays, French Montana’s stock is going though the roof.
Interview Vanessa Satten

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

French Montana became a household name in 2014. The year prior, the Moroccan-born, Bronx-raised artist was just a rap star celebrating the recent success of his solo debut Excuse My French, released on the famed Bad Boy Records in 2013. With hits like “Pop That” featuring Rick Ross, Drake and Lil Wayne and “Ain’t Worried About Nothin” off Excuse My French and a grip of guest appearances on big records including Chris Brown’s “Loyal,” A$AP Ferg’s “Work,” Ace Hood’s “Bugatti,” and Future’s “Karate Chop,” French had a good 2013. And 2012 and 2011 went pretty well for the Versace-Clad rapper as well, thanks to a slew of big guest appearances and mixtapes including the Mac & Cheese series and the Coke Boys series.

This past year, Montana dropped Coke Boys 4 and The Jack Move mixtapes with Chinx, plus was featured on a bunch of big songs including Ty Dolla $ign’s “Paranoid” remix, Lil Jon’s “Turn Down For What” remix and Rick Ross’ “Nobody.” French also started dating Khloe Kardashian and soon found himself written about regularly by gossip sites and mainstream news outlets. Random folks who never knew of French were now familiar with his name and face. After a five-month much-publicized relationship, he and Khloe allegedly broke up in September, only to possibly reunite the following month. Flames were fanned when French began to appear on episodes of Khloe’s reality show with her sister Kourtney, Kourtney And Khloe Take The Hamptons.

As the flashy rapper heads into 2015, his focus is on his sophomore album Mac & Cheese, his label Cocaine City Records, and taking advantage of new opportunities.

french montana chains epic music
Photo Credit: Kid Art

XXL: Talk about your new album Mac & Cheese. How does it compare to your first album Excuse My French?
French Montana: I mean, Mac & Cheese is like my baby. It’s the first [mixtape] I put out right after we did Coke Wave, me and Max B. Mac & Cheese really stands for soulful music. So if you see the title and you’re already a fan of my work, you know I’m coming with epic music.

You’ve recorded a lot of music for it so far, right?
I recorded about 90-100 songs.

How do you have that much to talk about on 90 songs?
I mean, I go through 90 different things in 90 days, so every day it’s some new shit. You learn something new every day. I just love recording.

What do you think of the current climate of hip-hop? How different is it from when you were first starting out?
I feel like now compared to back then, you had to have a decent body of work. Me and Max B had to have at least nine mixtapes and shit like that. I think the new artists are really dope, but it’s hard when you get in the game and you don’t know the business and then you start making your mistakes while you’re at your peak. See we made our mistakes on the come up. When we got to our peak, we already knew the hurdles and obstacles coming our way.

It’s kind of crazy that that means their peak is at their first or second record, right?
I mean all it really takes is one song. If you have a body of work and you been through a lot of shit and you didn’t have to go through 10 labels, and not getting signed, then you know how hard it is. It’s a lot of pressure for the new artists.

Despite some of the mainstream media reports lately, overall you’re a pretty nice guy, it seems.
I just feel like I’m one of those people where the more you know about me, the more you love me. There are certain people that you meet in your life that as soon as you meet them you’re like, Damn, I love this person, but as time goes by you’re like, I don’t really like them for this.

There are two different types of people. I learned that about life, just by reading people. I’m one of those people where once we meet, you’re like, I don’t know yet, but once you get to know me, the more you love me. I mean where we come from, we come from the gutta, so your attitude is always on defense because of the obstacles that are thrown at you. Once you meet somebody and you realize they’re not out to get you, you just show them your real side.

You’ve been in the press a lot lately because of your relationship with Khloe Kardashian. What has that been like?
What I learned about relationships on this side is that they last longer when nobody knows your business. When nobody knows what’s going on, it lasts longer... I’m very private when it comes to me and Khloe. Khloe is an amazing person, one of the best people I’ve ever met in my life.

So keeping something secret or keeping it within a small group allows you to get to know someone better?
Yeah, exactly. It’s like a boat. It’s like you gotta have your own boat. The boat’s gonna sink if water gets in it from the outside, but as long as you keep your boat afloat with the people that’s in it, you’ll get to your ultimate destination. Whether that’s getting married or whatever. As far as getting people in your business and all the he-said-she-said, soon people start to twist your words and before you even get a chance to explain yourself it’s already over.

Do you think the way the media runs with information, whether it’s accurate or false, affects you negatively or is all press good press?
It definitely affects me in every way. It could be positive or it could be negative. It honestly just depends on if the media likes me that week. If the media likes you that week, it’s a good week. If they don’t like you, then it’s a bad week. I try to stay away from it. Even when they express something negative and you want to say something so bad, you just protect yourself.

Do you ever play into it? Use it as a tool, when you have access to it?
Nah. To me, it doesn’t have anything to do with my music.

french montana standing room only
Photo Credit: Kid Art

You had a heavily celebrity-attended birthday this past November. Was there ever a moment in your career where you had to stop and say, “Wow I can’t believe I’m here?”
No. I mean honestly, I’ll use a moment like my birthday party, which was three days ago, as an example. Just to be in a $100 million mansion and throw a $100,000 party, and just looking around and seeing all my friends. People from Snoop to Puff to the Kardashian family and everybody that came. Kanye missed his flight but Kim was there, just everybody that you could think of was there. To have people come out just to show you support and want to see you do better means a lot.

Speaking of Kim Kardashian, what did you think of her naked Paper magazine cover?
Man, I love Kim. They’re married so I’m sure he knew about it. At the end of the day, it’s all about what makes you happy.

Who would you say are your closest friends in the industry?
Definitely Puff, Ross, The Weeknd... I mean, there’s a lot. The whole MMG family, there’s just a lot of them.

You’ve collaborated with a lot of people. Anyone you want to work with you haven’t gotten a chance to collaborate with yet?
I would love to work with Coldplay, Taylor Swift. I’m tryna see who else. You know, Max B again.

Have you guys kept in touch recently?
Yeah, he called me earlier today when I was sleep. I was gonna have him call me back now. That’s like my brother. We came from the same cracks, so definitely him.

As you get bigger, do you find the industry getting shadier?
Yeah, I mean it’s never gonna stop. Of course the bigger you get, the more talk there’s gonna be. I just think you have to be levelheaded. We came from a place where if you hear somebody talking, there were consequences to it. In this game, it’s a lot of fake muthafuckas. So the best thing to do is keep an immediate circle and don’t let people see you. You gotta be like Batman.

What could you see yourself doing in the future? Your hands are full with your new album, your label Cocaine City and you’ve been on some reality television. So what else would you like to try?
I wanna do everything as far as movies, you know, everything that I’m comfortable doing. If I’m not comfortable doing something, I’m not gonna do it. Even when I’m doing whatever shows for TV, I’m comfortable doing that sometimes because if you’re not catching me out of character, then I’m good.

How has your family reacted to all your success?
I think the biggest thing about it was me coming from a third world country and having rooms that were so big, you know? My mother came with my father and he ended up going back because he couldn’t handle the lifestyle here. And as soon as he went back, I became this big star. I just feel like that’s bigger than anything.