If you’re a fan of solid lyrical content in most of your hip-hop music, then it’s doubtful that French Montana is one of your favorite rappers. While he has quite a few hits under his belt, he’s probably not the first emcee you’d pick to be in a cypher or hear freestyle. Tracks like “Ain’t Worried ‘Bout Nothin’” and “Don’t Panic” bang in the club, but they’re not exactly laced with thought-provoking content. However, today French dropped a dope music video for his newest single “Figure It Out” featuring Kanye West and Nas (!!!), and as you might expect with features like that, it’s on a different plane than most of his previous work.
The track, off French’s newest mixtape Wave Gods, glides along on a very soulful beat with thudding boom bap (yes, boom bap) drums, laced by DJ Khalil and Rick Steel. Like pretty much every other song on the mixtape, “Figure It Out” has heavy AutoTune on the hook, with French and ‘Ye trading melodies back and forth; however, unlike a good deal of French’s recent work, the AutoTune is used tastefully and really works for this particular record. There’s no doubt that Kanye’s expertise with employing AutoTune as a useful tool on certain songs had a lot to do with that.
French has a decent verse; while not complex lyrically, he conveys some genuine paranoia and frustration, asking relevant questions to close it out, a la Jadakiss in “Why?”. But it’s Nas’ verse that (somewhat surprisingly) pops out the most here. It’s not surprising because Nas is a poor lyricist, as he’s quite the opposite; it’s just one of the most unexpected collaborations in recent memory. But Nas was a perfect choice to close this one out, as he expounds on the paranoid, troubled tone that French and Yeezy set when it started, spitting:
I’m a G, I need privacy, media’s never kind to me
Niggas beefing on small time things, we on a dying spree
The music video, directed by Eif Rivera, isn’t the most innovative, but it’s mighty pretty to look at. The three rappers spend the entire visual inside a desert runway, with random dirt bike riders doing all types of unsafe but cool looking tricks in the air around them. The shot of Kanye and French rapping on a plane’s wing with riders floating overhead is especially dope. Aside from the cheesy, obvious product placement shots of Ciroc bottles, it’s a well done piece.
Overall, “Figure It Out” is a very solid, catchy-yet-thought-provoking track with a video to match, keeping things interesting without trying too hard. It would be interesting to see French go a bit further down this soulful road, and to hear him on more tracks with “polar opposite” emcees like Nas. It bridges the gap between the new and old school, and can provide for some very interesting sonics when it’s not forced. Good work, Frenchie; hope you keep experimenting more with your sound, ’cause Lord knows we don’t really need another boring strip club anthem.