There are artists who come along from time to time that seem to embody a moment, and in 2012, French Montana is one of them. He is a New York rapper with a vaguely Southern cadence, a man of a few simple words from a city that continues to idolize complexity, even as the genre as a whole has long since turned towards unhinged ad-libs and non-sequitur boasts. There is a kind of blunt efficiency to what he does: rap reduced to exclamation points and full-stop periods. He makes up for what he lacks in finesse with a keen sense of timing and purpose. His slurry, amiable voice is a rap radio constant—that’s his sleepy drawl on the hook of Rick Ross’s “Stay Schemin’,” on last year’s Lords of the Underground-checking “Shot Caller,” on the lilting, menacing Waka Flocka Flame collaboration “Choppa Choppa Down.” “Pop That,” Excuse My French’s antic strip club anthem featuring Drake, Lil Wayne and Rick Ross, recently landed in the Top 40. French’s 2012 has been charmed: his recent habit of wearing colorful Versace scarves as headgear led to an invitation from GQ to come style the magazine’s editors; “fanute”—an inadvertent slang term he slurred into existence on his “Stay Schemin’” verse—was subject to an exegesis in The New York Times Magazine. He’s in that fleeting zone where just by doing things they become news.

 

Coming into Casablanca, the road is fast and empty and lined on both sides by a pale, straw-colored landscape. We speed through gendarme checkpoints, uniformed guards waving us on. Ahead of us the city comes into focus, thousands of low, white buildings stretching flatly in the haze. French Montana looks out the window, taking it all in. He’s grinning.

 

What he mostly remembers about Morocco is leaving it. What-ever his father had in mind when he moved his family to New York didn’t work out. “He had a lick over there,” French says, meaning a plan, a hustle. “But that lick went wrong. He was trying bring us back [to Morocco] with him, but my mother wouldn’t let him. She was like, I’m not letting them go back over there, ain’t no opportunity over there. So he went back, and she stayed with us.” When he returned to Casablanca, Abdela left behind a newborn son, his third, and little else.

 

 

French has not told his father he’s coming to Morocco, though he plans to see him. He has, however, told most of his mother’s side of the family, and they are eager to reunite. Muhammad, French’s mother’s brother, arrives in the lobby of our hotel, the Royal Mansour Meridien—a quiet oasis of marble floors, gold trim and colonial splendor near the water—moments after we do. Muhammad is a tanned, fit 62-year-old, a cheerful, boisterous man with a pinky ring like a paperweight, olive-green dress pants and sandals. In the hotel lobby, he wraps his arm around his nephew, and for a moment French Montana—who generally maintains the friendly but distant vibe of a rapper whose daily life consists of one long performance—looks like a child. “We’re going to do a great tour of all the things he’s lost in the 16 years since he left Morocco,” his uncle says, winking. And with that we are off, piling into the backseat of his black Mercedes sedan and flying down La Corniche, the beachfront section of the city, Muhammad pointing out landmarks as we go.

 

French has brought his youngest brother, Ayoub, here to meet his father for the first time, and his manager, Gaby Acevedo, a charismatic giant of a man. They’re trailing in a second car behind us, so they can’t hear the increasingly fantastic and profane monologue Muhammad launches into as we drive, a torrent of words about Jimi Hendrix, money, family, alcohol and his fading but apparently still formidable sexual prowess. We pass the startlingly graceful 700-foot minaret of the Hassan II Mosque and the sprawling, leafy palace of the king of Saudi Arabia. “I remember coming down this hill!” French says excitedly, with a kind of relief on his face. “If it would have went any longer,” he says of his absence, “I wouldn’t have known how to act coming back.”

 

 

We detour away from the coast when we reach the city’s newly built Morocco Mall, the largest in Africa, which houses several football fields-worth of Bellagio-style fountains, high-end retail and a million-liter aquarium that people pay to climb into and, in full view of their fellow shoppers, swim with sharks. “We have too many rich people in Morocco,” says Muhammad, apologetically.

 

French is hoping to become one of them, he explains, as we continue south along the coast. He’s looking to buy property here, a move toward remedying his long absence. “Most of my family is here,” he says. “I feel like this is a place I will definitely be back and forth from.” Muhammad has brought us to the city’s border, where the buildings run out and the ground turns to weeds and rocky fields. He wants to show his nephew a development out here—private, and by the water. “All this land has been sold,” Muhammad says, gesturing at the empty landscape. I ask where all the money comes from. “God opened the sky,” Muhammad replies.

 

 

Soon we emerge onto a surreal expanse of newly built homes, pale mansions in the middle of

nowhere. French looks out the window, apparently trying to picture himself in one of these

desolate houses, in this place that was just rocks and rubble when he was here last.

 

To read the rest of this cover story head over to Fader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

via: ti50