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French Montana

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French Montana
French Montana at MTV Africa Music Awards 2014-Durban-20140607.jpg
French Montana performing at the 2014 MAMAs
Background information
Birth name Karim Kharbouch[1]
Born (1984-11-09) November 9, 1984 (age 30)
Rabat, Morocco[2]
Origin South Bronx, New York, U.S.
Genres Hip hop
Occupation(s)
Years active 2002–present
Labels
Associated acts
Website frenchmontanamusic.com

Karim Kharbouch (born November 9, 1984), better known by his stage name French Montana, is an American rapper, entrepreneur, former videographer, and hip hop socialite. Born in Morocco, his family emigrated to the US when he was 13 years old.[3][4] He is the founder and CEO of Cocaine City Records. In 2012, he signed a joint venture recording deal with Bad Boy Records and Maybach Music Group. Montana has been known for his frequent collaborations with producer Harry Fraud, and with rapper Max B before his conviction. More recently he is known for his collaborations with Rick Ross, Diddy and his MMG and Bad Boy label-mates along with his Coke Boys which include the late Chinx, Lil Durk and his brother Zack. He made his mixtape debut in September 7, 2007, and released his debut studio album Excuse My French on May 21, 2013.[5]

Early life

French Montana was born Karim Kharbouch on November 9, 1984 in Rabat, Morocco,[2] He grew up at the family estate outside Casablanca where he lived for the first 13 years of his life.[6] Growing up, he was consumed with soccer and rap, describing them as his two favorite childhood hobbies.[7]

In 1996,[8] at the age of 13, Kharbouch left Morocco with his mother, his father Abdela and younger brother Zack for New York City, where they settled in the South Bronx.[6] Speaking only his native languages Arabic and French when he first arrived, he learned English in the streets and in the Bronx high schools of Lehman and Roosevelt.[6] After struggling for 2 years, his father decided they would move back to Casablanca, when his mother opted to stay back with the kids citing lack of opportunities back home.[6] His mother was pregnant with his youngest brother Ayoub at the time, who was born in the US shortly after his father departed for Morocco.[6] With 3 kids, including an infant, his mother was dependent on welfare for financial support.[6] Karim soon found himself the primary breadwinner for the family.[6]

Music career

2002–11: Cocaine City Records

In 2002, along with his friend, Cokeboy Los, French created a series of street-flavored mix tapes called 'Cocaine City' after drawing inspiration from the 'Smack' DVD series. Under the name Young French he used the DVDs as a means of showcasing his talent as an underground artist. To gain a broader fan base, French incorporated interviews with major artists, as well as some up and comers. The first edition in the series included Pee Wee Kirkland and Remy Ma alongside French himself among others. What started out as simply a medium for developing an audience quickly grew into one of the top-selling "street DVDs".[9][8][10] The series ran for 8 years between 2002 and 2010, with a total of 14 editions being released.[11]

In 2009, French signed a deal with Akon's Konvict Muzik record label. He later left the company two years later in 2011 due to album delays.[12] Montana was subsequently reportedly close to signing a deal with Rick Ross's Maybach Music Group (MMG).[13] There were also reports that he would join Kanye West's GOOD Music label.[14]

2011–present: Signing to Bad Boy and Excuse My French

In December 2011, French signed a record deal with P. Diddy's Bad Boy Records,[15] as well as Interscope Records.[16] According to French, of the many major labels that were courting him, Maybach Music Group would have been his second choice had he not signed with Bad Boy.[17] However, on January 2, 2012 while in the studio with Rick Ross, French announced that he had signed a joint venture deal with Bad Boy Records and Maybach Music Group. Ross and Diddy are set to executive produce his debut album.[18]

French was featured on XXL's Freshman Class of 2012 alongside Future, Kid Ink, Danny Brown, Macklemore, Don Trip, Hopsin, Iggy Azalea, Roscoe Dash and Bad Boy label mate MGK.[19][20] However, he later revealed to Sway Calloway on RapFix Live that he almost turned down the cover opportunity, feeling he "deserved it two years ago" and that he had surpassed the current crop of rap rookies.[10][21]

In October 2012, it was announced that French's debut album Excuse My French would be released on May 21, 2013. His mixtape Mac & Cheese 3 was released shortly afterwards, on November 19, 2012.[22] French also announced plans to release a mixtape titled Medusa with fellow rapper Future in November 2012.[23] The second single from Excuse My French was, "Freaks" featuring Nicki Minaj.[24] He was featured in Issue #82 of The FADER and appeared on the cover.[25] The third single would be "Ain't Worried About Nothin'". Upon its release, Excuse My French was met with mixed reviews from music critics.[26] It fared better commercially, debuting at number 4 on the Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 56,000 copies in the United States.[27]

On August 12, 2013, French announced that his group/record label Coke Boys, that includes rappers Chinx Drugz, Flip, Cheeze and Lil Durk are currently working on collaboration studio album.[28] The group released a mixtape, Coke Boys 4, in January 2014.[29][30] Following its release, in an interview with Rolling Stone, Montana revealed that Mac & Cheese: The Album would be his second studio album rather than a mixtape.[31]

Personal life

French Montana speaks several languages, including English, in addition to his native Arabic and French.[32] He describes himself as being passionate about fashion, and states his style has evolved as he's progressed in his career, now being able to afford high-end brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, YSL and Versace which he has a particular fondness for.[32] He cites being a father as one of his driving inspirations.[32]

Shooting attempts

In 2003, French was shot in the head as he was leaving a recording studio in New York. He was taken to the hospital after the incident, where he survived after having spent several weeks in treatment.[33][34] In early-2013, French Montana visited the site of the shooting with camera-crew from Life+Times as he recalled the near-death experience and his life growing up in the Bronx. This was the first time he had visited the location since the attempt on his life 10 years ago.[35] According to French, he was set up by someone that was close to him and his circle.[35]

On March 1, 2013, French Montana's convoy was the suspected target of a drive-by shooting in Philadelphia which left one bystander dead and another injured.[36][37] The incident took place early morning, around midnight, outside the Holiday Express Inn on Columbus Boulevard as French Montana's tour-bus, his entourage and a crowd of fans had gathered at the location following a concert earlier that night at the Theater of Living Art.[37] At a press conference following the incident, police described a black four-door sedan with tinted windows firing shots into the crowd that surrounded French's tour bus. Two members of the crowd then promptly returned fire leading to a shootout. French Montana was inside the bus alongside fellow rappers Meek Mill and Chinx Drugz at the time.[37][36]

Around two dozen people, including French Montana and Chinx Drugz, were brought in for questioning by police. Following the event, French and his team maintained that the shooting was unrelated and he was not the intended target.[38][36] He also expressed condolences towards of the families of the victims.[39] On March 6, 2013, police arrested a Frank Briggs, who was charged with murder, reckless endangerment and a slew of other charges, for his role in the shooting.[36][40] In December 2014, Frank C. Briggs pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, aggravated assault and a weapons charge, and was sentenced to 20 to 45 years in prison for the incident which had resulted in one dead and another wounded. [41]

Relationships

In recent years, since his separation from his wife, French has been increasingly under the spotlight from tabloids and celebrity news sites involving his romantic relationships with women. French Montana married Deen Kharbouch in 2007. The former couple have one son, Kruz, who was born in 2009. The couple had separated by 2012, and their divorce was finalized in 2014.[2][42]

After separating from his wife, French was involved in a non-publicized relationship with French-Canadian video model Sophia Body. During an interview with VladTV in 2015, Sophia claimed French as being "one of the loves of my life".[43][44] She described the two of them as still being friends after they split, and expressed her preference for Khloe over Trina, recalling an incident where Trina grimaced at Sophia when the couple attended an industry event with her.[43][44] In an interview with AlyiV, Sophia stated she was introduced to French Montana in Toronto in November 2011, where the two were attending a release party for Canadian rapper Belly.[45][46]

During 2013 it was reported that Montana was in an on-again, off-again relationship with American rapper Trina, who signed to his Coke Boys record label.[47][48] At one point Montana and Trina lived together at his New Jersey residence.[49] However, Montana moved to Los Angeles in 2014 to work on his second studio album, after which his relationship with Trina ended.[50] In 2014, French Montana dated Khloe Kardashian.[51][49][52]

On June 27, French spoke with Hot 97's Nessa at the 2015 BET Awards, stating he was single and needed some "time off" from relationships.[53] On July 10, Dish Nation reported on French being seen with Rich Kids of Beverly Hills star Dorothy Wang, daughter of billionaire Chinese-American tycoon Roger Wang.[54] The two were filmed attending the Red, White & Bootsy party on Independence Day at Nobu in Malibu, with reports claiming they were "pretty much inseparable throughout the night."[54] An Instagram video from Nichelle Hines of Hollywood Cycle captured herself with Dorothy and French together at the same event.[55][56] These prompted speculation whether French Montana is dating Dorothy Wang.[55][56] On July 16, People magazine reported that representatives from French denied rumors the two were dating.[57] On July 19, when asked about French, Dorothy stated the two were "just friends."[58]

Exotic pets

French has been the owner of a number of pet animals, ranging from dogs to exotic animals such as tigers and a monkey. On April 22, 2013, French Montana posted an Instagram picture with the caption "Got so high last night bought 2 baby tigers". The picture was of French outdoors holding two tiger cubs, one on each arm.[59][60][61] The tigers, named Ike and Tina, were prominently featured in French's music video for "The Gifted" featuring The Weeknd, released later that year.[62][63]

Since late-2014, French Montana became the owner of a pet monkey affectionately named Julius Caesar. A video of the animal was uploaded on December 18, 2014, showing French and Mally Mall entering a private-jet with French then cradling the infant monkey in his arms.[64][65] According to an interview with Complex magazine, French revealed he received the monkey as a birthday gift from Mally Mall.[66] The pet monkey is often seen in French's vlogs, and is frequently brought up and asked about in interviews and media appearances by the rapper.

During an appearance on MTV's Ridiculousness which aired on September 25, 2014, the rapper noted he had given up the two tigers shortly after he had them, citing the difficulty in feeding and caring for the animals.[67] In 2015, French appeared on GQ's Most Expensivest Shit with 2 Chainz, where the two rappers watched and handled expensive exotic animals which included a pair of parrots, a monkey, and a 9-month old giraffe.[68][69]

Musical influences

French Montana descrbes Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G, Nas, Snoop Dogg and Wu-Tang Clan among the hip hop artists he listened to growing up.[70][32][71] He considers himself a music lover in general, and admires the work of English soul/R&B singers Adele and Amy Winehouse,[32] the English rock band Florence + the Machine,[70] and American singer Lana Del Rey. Several of whom he has sampled in his music.

Discography

Selective discography:

Filmography

Film
Year Title Role Notes
2015 Respect the Shooter[72] Post-production
Television
Year Title Role Notes
2014 Keeping Up with the Kardashians Himself Episode: "Secrets of a Double Life"
2014-2015 Kourtney and Khloé Take The Hamptons 3 episodes
2014 Ridiculousness Season 5, episode 12

Awards and nominations

African Muzik Magazine Awards

Year Recipient / Nominated work Award Result
2014 French Montana Best Male Diaspora[73] Nominated

BET Awards

Year Recipient / Nominated work Award Result
2013 "Pop That" Best Collaboration[74] Nominated

BET Hip Hop Awards

Year Recipient / Nominated work Award Result
2013 "Pop That" Best Club Banger[75] Won
Perfect Combo[75] Nominated

Billboard Music Awards

Year Recipient / Nominated work Award Result
2015 "Loyal" Top R&B Song[76] Nominated

References

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  2. ^ a b c "Hollywood Life - French Montana". Hollywood Life. Retrieved March 10, 2013. 
  3. ^ Letter, The (May 31, 2011). "French Montana recruits Jadakiss for a "New York Minute"". Mideastdynasty.com. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  4. ^ "French Montana Reveals Nationality & Speaks On Bad Boy". Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  5. ^ "French Montana's "Excuse My French" Pushed Back Again". Hotnewhiphop.com. Retrieved March 8, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "French Montana: Homecoming". The Fader. September 25, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Stupid Dope interview with French Montana". Stupiddope.com. January 27, 2012. Retrieved January 7, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Mendez, Marisa (August 11, 2009). "French Montana: Akon's Bullet". Retrieved April 23, 2010. 
  9. ^ Mendez, Marisa (April 7, 2009). "Reviews: Top 5 Dead or Alive: French Montana". Retrieved April 23, 2010. 
  10. ^ a b "French Montana Wasn't Gonna Do' XXL Freshman Cover". Mtv.com. March 8, 2012. Retrieved January 7, 2013. 
  11. ^ Higgins, Keenan (January 2, 2012). "Who Is French Montana?". Retrieved March 26, 2012. 
  12. ^ "20 Rappers Who Almost Signed To Other Labels". Complex. 
  13. ^ French Montana to Maybach Music?[dead link]
  14. ^ Harling, Danielle (October 21, 2011). "Pusha T Talks G.O.O.D. Music Compilation, French Montana Possibly Signing To G.O.O.D. Music | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHop DX. Retrieved January 7, 2013. 
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  55. ^ a b "French Montana Dating #RichKids of Beverly Hills' Dorothy Wang!". E! Online. July 15, 2015. Retrieved July 23, 2015. 
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  57. ^ "French Montana Isn't Dating Rich Kids' Dorothy Wang, Says Rep". People Magazine. July 16, 2015. Retrieved July 24, 2015. 
  58. ^ "Dorothy Wang Speaks On French Montana Proposal Rumors". TheHollywoodFix.com. July 20, 2015. Retrieved July 24, 2015. 
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  62. ^ "BTS of French Montana and The Weekend's Music Video "The Gifted"". Noisey.com. May 10, 2013. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  63. ^ "French Montana and The Weekend Play With Tigers In "The Gifted" Video". rap-up.com. May 23, 2013. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  64. ^ "French Montana: I'm Sleeping With Julius Caesar". TMZ.com. December 20, 2014. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  65. ^ "Exclusive: Mally Mall Gifts French Montana With a Monkey!". Youtube.com. Mando Fresko. December 18, 2014. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  66. ^ "Meet Julius Ceasar: French Montana's Pet Monkey". Complex.com. January 10, 2014. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  67. ^ "Ridiculousness: Season 5 Episode 12". MTV.com. September 25, 2014. Retrieved July 23, 2015. 
  68. ^ "Most Expensivest Shit". May 5, 2015. Retrieved July 23, 2015. 
  69. ^ "There’s nothing not fun about watching 2 Chainz and French Montana feed a giraffe". May 5, 2015. Retrieved July 23, 2015. 
  70. ^ a b "Who Is French Montana?". Complex.com. January 2, 2012. Retrieved July 22, 2013. 
  71. ^ Shull, Zac (February 6, 2012). "French Montana: Talks Indie Grind, Diddy's Business Sense & Max B". Ballerstatus.com. Retrieved January 7, 2013. 
  72. ^ http://www.hiphopdx.com/index/news/id.31979/title.french-montana-lil-boosie-announce-new-movies
  73. ^ "See Nominees for the African Muzik Magazine Awards (AFRIMMA) 2014". Bellanaija. 9 June 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  74. ^ http://www.bet.com/news/music/2013/05/14/bet-awards-13-nominations-announced.html
  75. ^ a b http://www.mtv.com/news/1715658/bet-hip-hop-awards-2013-winners/
  76. ^ http://www.billboard.com/articles/events/bbma-2015/6524277/billboard-music-awards-2015-finalists

External links