"I feel like new blood. I feel like something special," French Montana says as he sits in a conference room at Interscope Records in Santa Monica, Ca. He's responding to a question about how it feels to be a new artist on the legendary Bad Boy Records that over the years has boasted a roster that included Notorious B.I.G., Faith Evans, 112, Black Rob and Danity Kane.
"Honestly, I feel like people want to see new blood," he continues. "I feel like everybody got something to bring to the table and Puff is like Phil Jackson. He's gone show you what way to go to get to the championship."
Puff aka Sean "Diddy" Combs has indeed provided some guidance for the Bronx-bred, Moroccan rapper. Though French has been putting out mixtapes for years, he releases his official debut "Excuse My French" Tuesday via a partnership deal with Bad Boy, Rick Ross's Maybach Music Group and Interscope.
The anticipation for the "Excuse My French" has been rapidly building since last summer when French released the Uncle Luke-sampled single "Pop That" that reached No. 36 on the pop charts. But the All-Star collab that features Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and Drake sparked a bit of a rift with Luke who claimed that French had not paid him for using his voice on the song.
French said he does not understand why the Miami hip hop icon is upset with him. French said that he invited Luke to perform the song with him at the BET Hip Hop Awards last fall and thought everything was fine. "When I spoke to him it was all love," he said. "Then I was looking on the Internet, he was saying French ain't paid me no money. … It's just obvious if we didn't clear you, we couldn't drop the record, so I guess it was somebody that owned his stuff and we dealt with him about the business, but I don't know. People just be talking to talk sometimes."
Another French collaborator, Nicki Minaj, who guests on his single "Freaks" paid him the ultimate compliment when taping the video for the sexually-charged, reggae-tinged song.
"She told me she didn't want nobody there while she was shooting," French said. "I was like, What's [gonna] happen?" The "Super Bass" rapper and "American Idol" judge filmed the video exposing her pasties-covered breasts.
"I was kinda expecting something [but] I wasn't expecting that," French said with a grin. "Honestly, I was surprised."
French said he didn't try to distinguish "Excuse My French" from his mixtapes. "I didn't really take that approach like I'm doing something different," he said. "I feel like I watched a lot of artists when they try to make that transition between mixtape and album. They kinda forget what people want to hear their core audience. I just want to do it like I'm doing a mixtape, but just make it a lot sharper, make sure perfection is right. "
During the exclusive Yahoo! Music video interview, French also talks about being influenced by U.S. hip hop when he was still in Morocco, featuring Max B on the album, his Cocaine City DVDs and surviving a life-threatening gun shot to the head.
Video and editing: Robert Gardner