The Coke Boys Wave
Fraud has been aligned with French Montana’s Coke Boys since the beginning, back when it was Cocaine City, built off of the success of French’s widely-circulated street DVDs. Chinx Drugz had started the Riot Squad with Stack Bundles, who was slain in 2007, while Chinx had been in prison. A couple of years after his 2008 release, Chinx was introduced to Montana by way of Max B, with whom Fraud has developed a rapport during the Harlem rapper’s incarceration, now going on seven years. “I guess I’m grateful would be the word to the groundwork that he’s laid,” says Fraud of Max B’s legacy, “So anything I can do to contribute positively -- I’m there.”
“N*ggas in there talkin’ about our lives, n*ggas is baldin’ and n*ggas was like blood,” says Max B through the jail phone on the intro to the Fraud-produced, Breezy-featuring opener on French Montana’s recent Wave Gods mixtape. He continues, in a nostalgic burst about the early Coke Boys wave: “that shit was fun. We was doin’ that shit because we believed in this shit.”
Wave Gods was released shortly after Kanye West had suggested titling his album Waves before settling on The Life of Pablo. Kanye’s use of the word prompted outsiders to speculate on its foundations, and indeed, an attempt to pinpoint a definition of “wavy” is against the idea of the word/genre originated by Max B and purveyed by the Coke Boys. But here goes: Be innovative and sound cool as shit doing it. Don’t be afraid to experiment with flows, or to bring the groovy sound back to street rap. Have fun with it.
Over a year after Max B was sent to prison, French, Fraud, and Chinx -- the new Coke Boys -- connected for the first time on “Tunnel Vision.” The track samples Eddie Money’s 1986 stadium anthem “Take Me Home Tonight,” and French’s product takes on an opposite ethos of the original. French and Fraud’s first big hit -- with the help from Jadakiss -- came on “New York Minute.” This one samples Don Henley’s 1989 hit of the same name, placing Henley’s hook, pitched up all the way, amid ominous bursts of Montana’s slick street talk -- combining flashes of bright lights with the grime of the outer boroughs, a fairly precise approximation of the Coke Boy sound.
Then came “Shot Caller,” released in late 2011, which sampled an immediately recognizable New York classic in Lords of the Underground’s “Funky Child,” taking the opening high-pitched horn solo from before the boom-bap drop, and looping it into a dizzying club beat. It was the first track released after French signed a joint deal with Bad Boy and MMG, and he soon got the bosses of both labels to guest on the remix.
French was the first to blow, and as two industry moguls would help him climb to superstardom, Chinx was emerging as a Wave God in the making. Early on in his steady rise, he displayed a remarkable talent for singing hooks and having them arise out of his verses in perfect transitions. His naturally melodic flow inspired Fraud to speed up his drums and use more new-age source material, such as sampling a record by The XX on “Now or Never,” taken off their 2011 joint tape Flight 2011, to form a rare sound that retains an urban grit whilst remaining smooth as butter. Chinx apparently brought that sample to the table -- “he was always in tune with it,” Fraud reflects -- and it was also Chinx’s idea to use the squeaky violin sample on “I’m a Coke Boy.”
The track that came to be the definitive Coke Boy anthem appeared on Chinx’s Cocaine Riot 2, and the sample is taken from another New York classic, Royal Flush’s “Worldwide.” In many cases, the Coke Boys were taking once-familiar sounds and reinserting them into the new wave, with a renewed focus on charisma and making the records come alive -- records that, like “I’m a Coke Boy,” demand the listener’s full attention.