French Montana (feat. Charlie Rock) - Shot Caller (Bad Boy/Interscope, 2011)
Back when Max B was a free man, French Montana was a staple in my listening habits. His verses and knack for crafting hooks on Coke Wave made me curious, and with underground hits like Whysoserious? and Playin’ In The Wind to his name, he was one of the only interesting rappers really left in New York. Both Harry Fraud and Dame Grease provided French with jazzy, grimey backdrops that New York had once specialized in, but hadn’t added anything to the formula in years. Between Fraud’s Southern influence in his beats and French’s syrupy flow, they created some music that had been missing in their city since the heydays of G-Unit and Dipset.
Then Max went to jail, French signed with Mizay, and he decided he wanted to be a trap rapper. This really didn’t sit well with me, as French is way too mush-mouthed to sound intimidating on a Luger beat (this is the same problem Gucci faces on Luger beats), and he all but abandoned that wavey style he and Max made famous. Harry Fraud still had some beats here and there, but between the faux-Luger beats, terrible guest appearances (Coke Boyz?), and drop in quality from French, I started to avoid him like the plague.
Then I heard Shot Caller recently, and it has almost brought me right back to the love I once had for Montana’s music. Fraud’s beat, complete with stabbing horns and a soft chorus from Charlie Rock (I’m guessing he’s a Coke Boy, hence I’m thankful he’s not rapping) set the tone for French to just wax some smooth baller shit here. French does this sleazy 40s noire vibe like no one outside of Max B really can, and Shot Caller is the quintessential track of French’s abilities. The mixtape it comes from, Mister 16 (Casino Life), is also pretty damn good, despite the rehashed Luger beats. It has a bit of a Casino influence (obviously), which is appropriate considering French Montana is the Rap Game Joe Pesci.
French also signed to Bad Boy, which is a terrible idea, but hey.
I wrote about Biggie’s seminal classic Sky’s The Limit and it’s accompanying video (the video briefly, the song more-so) over at No Jumper. I’ve been listening to that song for about 12 years, so I had quite a few things to say about it.
Diddy-Dirty Money - Someone To Love Me (Bad Boy/Interscope, 2010)
Diddy’s probably the most consistent New York rapper of the last ten years, and like Press Play in 2006, Diddy’s dropping another fourth quarter rap-epic that’ll go overnoticed and underappreciated because of who he is. Someone to Love Me is probably the purest rap record on the album (you really shouldn’t be listening to Diddy for those, though), in the sense that it lacks most of the European club-scene influences that carry the rest of LTTP, and rests on its soul-laurels.
Diddy always drops a classic - this’ll be no different. Definitely feeling the artwork here. Seems like rappers are going for a more simplistic/yet artistic approach for their album covers these days, and I’m feeling it.
Diddy (feat. T.I. & Rick Ross) - Hello, Good Morning (Bad Boy, 2010)
I’ve loved everything I’ve heard from Last Train To Paris so far. This sounds like it’ll be another classic from Diddy. Yes, I said classic. You can’t deny that No Way Out isn’t one of the greatest albums of the 90s; and Diddy’s last, Press Play, was easily one of the best albums of the Aughts, which I’ll explore further more when I do my feature on that album. Angels, Love Come Down, and now this, all bang hard, and Diddy’s escape into electro hip-hop is a far better idea than it seemed like at first. I’ll be copping Last Train To Paris; fuck the R.E.D. Album though.
Why is Ross on everything Diddy, though? I know Diddy’s still trying to fill the void of Biggie, and Ross is about as close as we’re gonna get to a replacement for Biggie when it comes to success and physical frame. I admit he sounds good next to Diddy, and I’ve heard the rumors of Diddy managing Ross, which Diddy has since denied. But you’d swear he was signed to Bad Boy with all these features.