Sometimes, rappers emerge fully-formed, seemingly out of nowhere. This is what happened to Drake -- he released one mixtape, and then another, and then he got famous. It was actually kind of scary.
However, most of the time it takes rappers a while to marinate before they truly come into their own. It happened for Rick Ross, who spent years toiling in the underground before breaking out with his so-dumb-it’s-brilliant anthem “Hustlin’.” It happened for Lil Wayne, whose steady rise to the top was characterized by his releasing mixtapes at an insane clip.
All of these rappers appear on French Montana’s new single “Pop That,” which can be looked at as French’s true coming-out party. Montana’s had a long, strange trip to rap stardom, one that got kickstarted for the Bronx rapper by making mixtapes with the now-incarcerated Max B. Download "Pop That" here.
They’re minor classics of the mid-2000’s mixtape scene, though Max was always credited as the true creative genius of the duo, with Montana perpetually relegated to the role of a bit player in the public eye. Upon Max’s incarceration, Montana trucked it down south where he affiliated himself loosely with Waka Flocka and Gucci Mane’s Brick Squad crew, where he delivered a star turn on Flocka’s “TTG.”
His momentum started gathering in earnest with the start of his Coke Boyz mixtape series, packed with beats that alternated between the spacey, melodic productions fellow New Yorker Harry Fraud and frenetic timebombs of guys like Lex Luger. When the Fraud-produced, Lords of the Underground-sampling “Shot Caller” hit Hot 97, it was the summer jam to end all summer jams.
He was quickly signed to Diddy’s Bad Boy label, and found himself with a new, highly desirable role: that of the hard-nosed hookman. Aligning himself with Ross, his next moment came with “Stay Schemin’,” off of Ross’s Rich Forever tape. He slides into the beat, going angular where Ross and Drake take things more straight-ahead.
It’s a great song, and Montana makes it even greater. And now, “Pop That.” It’s a master class in triumphant self-aggrandizing, one that, given Montana’s new-found stature and stars on the track, will probably be around for quite a while. And with Montana helping New York hip-hop make a comeback on rap radio, this can only be a good thing.