French Montana Talks Fetty Wap Joint Mixtape 'Coke Zoo' & Why Chinx's Album Was 2015's Best: Exclusive

Courtesy Photo
"Coke Zoo" by French Montana and Fetty Wap.

French Montana and Fetty Wap, who first joined forces at the very beginning of this year for a "Trap Queen" remix (before "Trap Queen" -- and really, Fetty Wap -- were even a thing), are coming together again on a just-announced joint mixtape called Coke Zoo.

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The project, whose artwork by Emmanuel Santiago is debuting exclusively on Billboard above, was conceived during the pair's recent stint on Chris Brown's One Hell of a Nite Tour. As the name implies (it's a combination of Coke Boys, Montana's label, and Zoo Gang, the name of Fetty's crew), it will showcase the tri-state-based duo's love of keeping things local.

"When me and Max [B] did it, when me and Three 6 Mafia did it -- when I love a sound...it's just something new," Montana tells Billboard. "We're both from the East -- I feel like it's big for our culture." French Montana is a vocal representative of the Bronx (one of the few current, mainstream MCs from the original home of hip-hop), while Fetty Wap's Zoo Gang is almost entirely from the Paterson, NJ area. "We kind of kept it in the team -- you know, all the Coke Boys and all the Zoo Gang members," Montana adds. Appropriately, Coke Boys affiliate Zack and Fetty Wap's go-to producer Peoples are both featured on the album.

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"I'm excited to work with Fetty -- I just feel like he has this new energy, I'd never heard nobody like that," the rapper says of his latest collaborator. "He brings a different style to the game. I always feel like when two artists come together, put their sounds together, magic comes out of it."

Fans may even get to hear the Fetty/French/Chris Brown track that was teased a few months back on Coke Zoo. "If we do have it, we'll use the [track with] Chris Brown," says French, "though I think that one he's going to keep for his album [Royalty, out Nov. 27]."

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Coke Zoo isn't all that Montana has in the works, though. His long-awaited sophomore album (Excuse My French dropped in 2013) Mac & Cheese: The Album is due out before the end of the year. "The date might have moved like a week or two weeks later, but we're still dropping [it]. It's done, it's ready to go," Montana tells Billboard, also confirming that no music from the album has been released. "The first record [off the album] is coming really soon -- obviously after this mixtape," he says.

"We [Diddy and I] have something that's on my album, and I recorded something on his album, too," Montana adds of his Bad Boy Records mentor. "He's hands-on with everything that I do. I love working with him -- a living legend."

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As far as 2015 hip-hop goes, though, it's not Drake and Future's joint mixtape What A Time To Be Alive that's serving as the rapper's primary inspiration. Instead, it's his late Coke Boys colleague, Chinx, whose Welcome To JFK was released posthumously after the rapper was shot and killed earlier this year. "I feel like the [album with] biggest impact was Chinx's album," Montana says. "I watched him come up, and get to this point (rest in peace) before he passed away. He dropped his album and it was just like, I loved the work. I was with him the whole time."

When asked about any stand-out tracks on the mixtape, French keeps it simple: "All of them." What he really wants people to know, though, is that "it's not what you expect." Look for the Coke Zoo release date to be announced via French's Instagram next week.