French Montana – Excuse My French (Album Review)
French Montana is set to release his highly anticipated debut album Excuse My French on May 21st via Bad Boy and Interscope Records. Fans of the controversial Coke Boys emcee have been patiently awaiting the project since the day it was announced. Originally set to come out July 17th of last year, the disc has seen several unfortunate delays. After being pushed back to the final quarter of 2012, Montana revealed on December 20th that the release date would instead be March 12th, 2013. That date didn’t stick either and the album was pushed back again to April 16th. Finally, it ended up being guaranteed on May 21st and this time Frenchie delivered on his promise.
The album’s lead single “Pop That” has already reached gold status but its follow up “Freaks” featuring Nicki Minaj was met with mixed reviews. Montana came back after that modest performance with a unanimously approved banger “Aint Worried About Nothin” to restore faith in his upcoming project. Once the tracklist was revealed, the buzz surrounding Excuse My French started to grow rapidly with guest appearances from the likes of Max B, Birdman, Diddy, Scarface, Snoop Dogg, Ne-Yo, Raekwon, Lil Wayne, Drake, The Weeknd and more being announced.
Does Excuse My French live up to the hype, or were the naysayers right? He has a loyal fan base, but will French Montana‘s debut album take him to the next level of Hip Hop and attract a bevy of new listeners? Or will the feature-abundant project flop and go down as a colossal waste of invested capital fit for the recycling bin?
Continue reading my song by song review for answers to those questions and more.
For those of you who don’t know the scoop on French Montana, he’s 28 years old hailing out of South Bronx, New York. Born Karim Kharbouch, Montana was raised in Barat, Morocco until moving to the USA at the age of 13. He speaks three languages, English, Arabic, and French, a fact that makes his rapping capabilities even more impressive.
The album’s hook-heavy opening track “Once In A While” features French’s longtime friend Max B who is currently serving 75 years for murder charges he is trying to appeal. The Reefa-produced record is the perfect intro, effortlessly building suspense for what’s to come. In his recent sit-down with Snoop Dogg, French said he was inspired to become a rapper by two albums. 2Pac‘s debut All Eyez On Me and Snoop’s first effort Doggystyle. “Once In A While” is inspired by the Doggystyle cut “Murder Was The Case,” which is my favorite track ever written by the legendary rapper.
Second on the tracklist is the Birdman and Rick Ross-assisted cut “Trap House,” which was seen as a stand out before anyone even heard it based on the features alone. French serves up a nice chorus over Jahlil Beats production for the YMCMB and MMG generals to spit some fire on. It’s not everything it could have been but “Trap House” is still a very strong effort from all parties.
Next up is the first solo effort on the project, “Aint Worried About Nothin,” which has already been given the video treatment. This time French lays to rest any criticism that he can’t perform on a track with no features by absolutely annihilating the instrumental provided by Earl & E.
The fourth song, “Paranoid” featuring Young Cash introduces auto-tune to the project for the first time. The Young Chop-produced joint does not feature Montana on the hook, and it definitely suffers as a result. This is an easily forgettable record that should have been saved for a mixtape.
“Paranoid” is followed up by a nice sounding track titled “When I Want,” the second offering with no guest appearances. Yet again French holds it down on his own and provides quality for the listeners. This is the artist people were saying was only good on songs with other people right?
“F*ck What Happens Tonight” boasts the largest lineup out of any song on Excuse My French, featuring Snoop Dogg, Ace Hood, Scarface, Mavado and DJ Khaled. This incredible single from some of rap’s finest exceeds all expectations and although it won’t see success in clubs like many of the other tracks, “F*ck What Happens Tonight” will get tons of spins from loyal fans.
What better way to try and appeal to a broader audience than a collaboration with Toronto’s The Weeknd? Ladies all over the globe have been going crazy for the mysterious artist. On “Gifted” he brings his A-game before handing the beat over to French Montana who lays down a couple of verses that are cold even by cocaine rap standards. Although The Weeknd‘s hook doesn’t do it for me, I can definitely see this record appealing to a wide array of listeners. A video has already been shot for “Gifted,” take a behind the scenes look here.
Cardiak drops off an exceptional instrumental for Frenchie, Jeremih and boss man Diddy on “Ballin’ Out.” All three artists absolutely crush the beat, and I sincerely hope they decide to shoot a video for this one too. I wouldn’t be upset if I heard this five times in a row.
Check out this clip of Diddy meeting French at a helicopter pad to take a flight up to his mansion in the Hamptons taken from the Excuse My French documentary.
“I Told Em” comes off as another generic club banger and after the first listen I really wasn’t all that impressed. After running through the song a couple more times I managed to find some elements I liked but still felt it was lacking the oomph to stand out. They should have cut “I Told Em” a few minutes shorter.
“Pop That” has one of the most glorious videos I have ever seen. The hit single featuring Rick Ross, Drake, and Lil Wayne as I previously mentioned is already certified gold and after the release of Excuse My French is likely to go platinum. If you are ever bored at home you can use the visuals to play a drinking game with your friends. Drink every time you see a Ciroc bottle.
Nicki Minaj definitely struck me as a strange artist for French Montana to collaborate with and “Freaks” does neither of them justice. Surprisingly the single has seen moderate success and a video has already been released. Personally, I can’t believe anyone likes this track but at least Nicki looked nice on camera.
“We Go Wherever We Want” featuring Raekwon and Ne-Yo leaked early thanks to Funkmaster Flex and it’s no wonder why he wanted people to hear it as soon as possible. The three artists have a surprising synergy and created an unforgettable piece that could easily be considered the best effort on Excuse My French.
Finalizing the standard edition of the album is the adequately named strip club anthem “Bust It Open.” Talk about going out with a bang, this record has hit with replay value written all over it. Makes me want to go get a stack of ones at the bank.
The first mp3 on the deluxe edition of Excuse My French is “Drink Freely” featuring Rico Love, who also produced “Freaks.” Much like the attempt with Nicki Minaj, “Drink Freely” falls short of being anything most people will notice or care about. Don’t play this track if you are driving home late at night and wish to stay awake behind the wheel.
“Throw It In The Bag” featuring fellow Coke Boy Chinx Drugz is exactly what the doctor ordered. Unlike the previous jam, this cut starts to make purchasing the bonus tracks look like a wise investment. It may not be as strong as Fabolous‘ song of the same title but it is definitely a quality recording you shouldn’t sleep on.
“Marble Floors” featuring Rick Ross, Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz was released a few months ago but flopped unexpectedly. There is no doubt it was originally crafted for the standard edition of the album, but due to mixed feedback it was pushed down to a bonus selection. Thankfully it made the final cut, it’s quite a bit better than many people seem to be willing to admit.
Last but not least is the posse cut “Ocho Cinco” featuring Bad Boy artists Machine Gun Kelly, Los, Red Cafe and Diddy. Originally finding a home on French’s Mac & Cheese 3 mixtape, it’s certainly good enough to be included on his debut as a bonus.
All in all, Excuse My French is a very strong debut offering from an artist who should have a promising career in the rap industry. Like it or not, French Montana is here to stay. Is the album worth a purchase? Absolutely. As an artist with a large catalog of mixtapes, French manages to deliver material that exceeds his free releases, a task that many rappers have failed to complete in recent months. There are a couple of misses but they are few and far between on a tracklist that has a little something for everybody. Grab your copy on iTunes today it includes another bonus song titled “If I Die.”
Timeless Tracks: F*ck What Happens Tonight, Pop That, We Go Wherever We Want
Pros: Great beat selection, industry leading hooks, tons of big name guest appearances.
Cons: Not enough love for the Coke Boys or Harry Fraud.