In our present ‘reality show’ obsessed culture a rapper’s pathos is as important as his product.  Due in part to his sordid past, and relentless hustle, French Montana was christened on XXL’s Freshman Class 2012, and appears poised to overtake New York and the national hip hop scene.  His latest, French Montana - New York on Top: Year of the Underdog bares only French’s name, but is a collaborative effort with his Coke Boys quartet: Chinx Drugz, Cheeze, Charlie Rock and Coke Boy Flip.  Mixtapes often contain rhymes and beats axed from a forthcoming album, but this effort is riddled with tracks deemed too weak to make the pending Coke Boys 3: N.W.C. release in April.

Concrete crushing bangers are not completely absent, however those expecting hook-heavy anthems reminiscent of Coke Boys 2 will need to satiate their fix elsewhere.  The opening track is a spoken interlude featuring French who gets things started with ‘Dream Chaser’, a smooth synth track featuring muted bongo-thudding beats parading in the background, seemingly tailor-made for Montana’s silky flow, “ice rocked up, see ya from the rooftop/ couldn’t walk in them shoes with ten tubesocks…Jewish marble in my new spot”.  On ‘Cokeboy Killaz Theme’, Chinx Drugz joins French to rhyme over an ominous beat which calls back the late 90’s hip hop sound of New York, with a Montana hook “whispered in the air, says she got a thang for a nigga on the low/ I do my thang, but French I’m not a hoe”.

Midway through, the tape becomes a bit muddled with lackluster freestyles over instrumentals of some West Coast classics, ‘Keep Their Heads Ringing’, ‘Drop a Gem on Em’, and the ill-fitted choice of spitting over songstress Zhane’s ‘Sending My Love’. 

One of the bright spots is Coke Boy Flip and Chinx Drugz ‘Lock In’, with cascading synth and popping drum machine beats Chinx spits monosyllabic “close the shades, lock the door so we can count this money/ we lose count fuck it my accountant count it for me”.  At the close, Coke Boys affiliate Boo Citi gets some shine, but falls flat on a hardbody stripclub anthem ‘On The Pole’: “Let me see you strip/ get up on that pole/ we throwing money, Oh!”

French Montana minions fret not, as the legit certified club banger on the tape is the just released, ‘Hurt Somebody’ with former label-mate Akon.  This bodes well for the Moroccan’s debut solo LP Excuse My French, due out in July under Diddy’s rejuvenated Bad Boy Records.  Since churning out street documentaries Montana has been the consummate hustler, and while this mixtape lacks in delivery, fans can expect raw product to hit the streets soon.  If anybody embodies the mantra of his label’s forefather “can’t stop, won’t stop” it’s French Montana.  Look forward to him releasing infectious street anthems this summer, so his legend in the booth can surpass his legend on the streets.

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