French Montana Talks Working With Liam Payne, New Music & More at Hot 100 Fest: Watch
French Montana spoke with Billboard's Kevan Kenney on Sunday (Aug. 19) at the Hot 100 Festival, breaking down his verse on the upcoming title track from Liam Payne's debut EP, his pride in becoming a U.S. citizen and how "Unforgettable" turned into his biggest hit so far. You can watch the full video above.
Payne recently announced the upcoming release of his four-track First Time EP (Aug. 24), the title track of which will feature a Rihanna-referencing verse from French. A self-professed "big fan" of Payne's, Montana says that the singer sent him two songs to choose from and "First Time" came out on top. "I feel like the vibe of it, the beat, the guitar, 'First Time' relates to me and it just relates to our lifestyle. I feel like it was natural and that's how hits are made. When it's natural," he says.
Montana also offers up a preview of some of his bars, rapping, "She's a savage like Rihanna/She loves cars, she loves diamonds/She loves cars that be timeless."
Asked about the current state on New York hip-hop, the Bronx-native MC says he's proud to rep his city, the birthplace of rap, adding, "I'm proud to be one of the young legends, still striving, still climbing that ladder." A survivor who has thrived from the DVD days to blogs and now the SoundCloud era, Montana explains how he's been able to stay on top and recently reach a new plateau with his No. 3 Hot 100 hit "Unforgettable."
The song, which started out in the OVO camp with a track from the 1Mind production crew aimed at Drake's Views album, made its way into the current Billboard cover star's hands with a very different vibe. "That song was nothing like how you hear it," he says. "After those first eight bars it turned into an R&B track...one of my main things is picking out music. I think I'm a better A&R than anything. I'm just happy I got that great ear and I was able to grab it."
French, who was born in Morocco, also speaks about a picture featured in the current Billboard issue of his U.S. citizenship ceremony in June, describing his pride in that moment. "One of the first things that goes through my mind is just growth," he says. "That just shows me being a world citizen, not just a United States citizen...more doors open, more opportunities, more ladders to climb. It's just showing that anybody can do it. That right there shows the American dream. It just shows you that you can come from anywhere and you can make your dreams come true...you have to be an example."
The best news, though, is that French is "70 percent" done with his next album and has already picked out the first single. For now, though, it remains "top secret."