French Montana thinks he Rules the Jungle

I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not a fan of French Montana per se, but I was hype about this album. The single “Unforgettable” featuring Swae Lee took the world by storm. “No Pressure” featuring Future has been in heavy rotation for me since it released earlier this year. “Bring Dem Things” featuring Pharrell has a heavy New York City bop feel to it. The tracklist has names like Travis Scott, Quavo, Young Thug, Marc E. Bassy among many others, so expectations were high. These guys have contributed to some of the best work of the last few years.

Upon first listening to the 18-track project, I was a bit bored and I soon recognized something. I enjoyed the songs “Whiskey Eyes,” “A Lie,” “Bag,” and “She Workin” along with the aforementioned singles. The one thing these songs had in common was that French Montana had features on them. It made me wonder; so I looked back at French’s discography. He’s made great songs, but time and time again his best music has been when he’s had features.

The only song without features that I enjoyed was “Famous,” which incorporates the dancehall sounds that every artist is seemingly transitioning to. I can’t help but enjoy songs like that, which come on at parties and have me hitting my two-step. French’s purpose with this album was clear. Make popular pop-rap songs, using heavy autotune, and let us in on his inner feelings a bit more. The Moroccan-American rapper, who resides in NYC, often comes off as hardened with previous content focusing on drug use and his riches. Producers Harry Fraud and Ben Billions really help French push forward a new narrative, but for me there was much left to desire from him on the album.

The Weeknd and Max B outshined him on “A Lie.” The Weeknd brought his half rap, half singing melodies that serve as a strong opener to any song he’s featured on. Max B had a catchy verse, and the two features functioned as fancy bread with French Montana’s spam verse in the middle. Ziico Niico made “Bag” with his catchy hook and ad libs. Marc E. Bassy floated on “She Workin’” over a dope beat. Posthumously, Chinx’s wordplay and flow made “Whiskey Eyes” a solid cut and set the bar as the opening track.

Otherwise, I didn’t really enjoy any of the other features. The album was a solid 4/10 for me. Other than a few potential hits, I was not impressed by what French Montana did on his own. Lyrically there were no bars I listened to and made that “mean face.” Nothing had me going “ooooooh, what's this!?!” I never had to rewind a verse of French’s to fully understand what he was getting at. There’s really no complexity or finesse in his lyrics.

Again, I’m not a fan which makes me more critical, and I’ve definitely heard better efforts this year. “A Lie” will find its way on my party playlists and daily rotation. Perhaps listening a few months down the line will make me feel differently. I’ve learned with music, some of it doesn’t resonate with you if the content isn’t relevant to your current situation in life. French is clearly at a much different place in life than I am, and my disconnection to Jungle Rules is reflective of such. I know it’ll find its way onto New York radio stations and summer parties, but I also know other artists’ projects will get me and the public much more hyped up. Jungle Rules is far from the king of this jungle that has been music in Summer 2017.