One of the biggest problems an artist will face is artistic growth. Many get complacent when they make it and continue to make the same music that launched them to the platform of fame, fearing their fans will revolt when they begin heading in a different direction. For an artist to evolve means they’ll be taking one of the biggest risks in their career. French Montana has been known as the guy who can bring a lot of artists together for a stellar club song; you could say he’s the artist version of DJ Khaled. He has a way of making catchy songs that get stuck in your head but nothing more.
After the botched release to his Mac & Cheese 4, and his Twitter altercation that resulted in him using the term “nappy” to describe a group of women, it looked like French might be done for a while. Through this he drops arguably the song of the summer with his first single, the Swae Lee-featured ‘Unforgettable’, and proceeds to ride that to the release of Jungle Rules. French is able to maintain his knack for creating hit songs with guest features as this album is loaded with star talent. Aside from Swae Lee this sophomore effort features Future, T.I., Travis Scott, Quavo, Pharrell, The Weeknd, Young Thug, and a verse from the incarcerated Max B.
Jungle Rules does a great job of staying in French’s lane. It doesn’t try to sound like a street album or anything lyrical. French knows his lane and his fans; being self aware is something most artists lack. He does address the death of Coke Boyz member Chinx sparingly, most notably on the intro ‘Whiskey Eyes’ that has a posthumous feature. There are more references but they remain brief, once on ‘Bag’ featuring Ziico Niico and awkwardly at the beginning of the dancehall sounding ‘Formula’ that features Alkaline. French doesn’t stray far from trying to make hits. Whether they stick with you is to be heard and some of the all-star features fall flat on their face. ‘Migo Montana’ featuring Quavo sounds excellent on paper but the duo don’t show much chemistry. The song is lackluster sans Quavo’s verse and is forgettable. This happens again with the Future featured ‘No Pressure’ as well.
Not every song is going to be a hit but French Montana’s shooting percentage for making a song sound like a hit is high on Jungle Rules. The Weeknd and Max B featured ‘A Lie’ has potential to be as big as ‘Unforgettable’, if not bigger. He also runs into the dilemma that Lil Uzi Vert has with ‘XO Tour Liif3’ on ‘Famous’. The song is catchy in production and with French’s flow, however the subject matter is problematic. On one hand, French tries playing a sweet side as he doesn’t want his lady to get famous because he knows what fame is like. On the other, it sounds almost like he doesn’t want her to have her own life or experiences. You’ll struggle to figure out if you should be appalled by the content or that you should be nodding your head.
French plays the background on quite a few of his own songs which makes for a fun experience. He does this with ‘Unforgettable’ and the Young Thug featured ‘Black Out’. He may not be the most lyrical or talented rapper in the game at the moment but French Montana knows what people want to hear in terms of a hit and he has several of those lined up for your listening pleasure on Jungle Rules.
Repeatable: ‘Unforgettable’ feat. Swae Lee, ‘A Lie’ feat. The Weeknd & Max B, ‘She Workin’ feat. Marc E. Bassy, ‘Famous’
Skippable: ‘Hotel Bathroom’, ‘Migo Montana’ feat. Quavo, ‘Formula’ feat. Alkaline
By Joe Coad