[Album Review] French Montana – Mac and Cheese 3

12/07/2012

If 2012 has proven anything it is that the people of the United States still believe in a black president and French Montana can stand alone as an artist. With his breakout single featuring the big three of hip-hop, Pop That has amassed over 25 million views on youtube and has shown that he has come some way since his Coke Wave days. He has transcended his previous identity as Max B‘s side kick and established himself as an extremely popular solo artist since his more recognized counterpart found himself in a 75-year prison bid related to murder conspiracy and robbery charges back in 2006. French Montana has found himself on some of the biggest songs in the past year such as Pop That, Stay Schemin’, and Mula. His latest release Mac and Cheese 3 is a long-awaited sequel to a mixtape series stemming from his lesser known days that alone has shown his progress in the industry and has proven to prolong the wave.

Mac and Cheese 3 features 21 songs that cover all edges of the spectrum in a lazily delivered cadence that has become his persona. The expected trap music sound is found in songs such as Ocho Cinco, Yayo, and Devil Want My Soul featuring production from the 2012 Lex Luger, Young Chop. Through his other production, Montana has found the ability to deliver the typical content that hip-hop has to offer today but in a more sample driven manner that sets him apart from a lot of other artists that are in his lane. His producer Harry Fraud has recently became highly sought after due to past collaborations and shows up impressively once again on Triple Double and State of Mind, the latter featuring a sample from a famous Jay-Z song and a title of one of Nas’ most influential songs. Ironically, Sanctuary, a song that summarizes French Montana’s sound and persona to a tee – which features an amazingly flipped sample that any Kingdom Heart 2 playing drug dealer will recognize – is not done by his newly famous associate but rather a somewhat unknown producer by the name of Black Metaphor. Montana uses his lyrical ability to paint on the already impressive canvas to create an ignorantly rich picture both in sound and image. Amongst the infectious ad-libs: “Bling!”and “Haaaaaan,” the actual content itself finds a way to stick to the listener. Although much of what can be found in the couplets is the typical drug-dealing braggodacio, a more introspective driven message can be found in songs such as the intro uttering bars such as “When you’re ballin, everybody want a part / even your shadow is going to leave you when its dark.” None of the messages that French Montana presents are new but the way it is shown is what makes it for a worthy listen.

Features are found heavily from within the 21 track project. Label mates from each half of his deal can be found amongst peers like Action Bronson, Curren$y, Future, Prodigy, Trina, anmongst others. Many of the Coke Boyz were lost in translation seeing as Chinx Drugz is the only crew member to get a feature. Many collaborations fall very short such as the Ma$e and Rico Love assisted song Grownups and any artist featuring a predominately teenage girl fan base (ie. Mac Miller and MGK). Although they are plenty, the features do well for French in the long run.

The biggest issue that Mac and Cheese 3 presents is also found in much of French Montana’s music. While he has his own identity on songs, he tends to encompass the persona of whoever he may be featured with. For instance, Devil Want My Soul is to French Montana as Love Sosa is to Chief Keef, which feature a least common denominator of Young Chop; Love Sosa proved to be one of the most popular songs in recent months so theoretically why not replicate that song. It also can be said that much of what makes French Montana popular is attributed to his time with Max B. It doesn’t necessarily kill the listening of a French Montana but it can become noticeable.

Mac and Cheese 3 does some things well while it trips up on other aspects. The content and features work well for the most part and doesn’t become too stale at any point. This is a good appetizer for his debut whenever that may come out. Hearing this leaves the listener to wonder what a Max B project in this era would sound like. The promising reunion of the Coke Wave will be presented on Excuse My French, hopefully coming in 2013.