French Montana's E-Cigarette Gives You A Peek Into the Soul of French Montana


I like French Montana a lot. I love that his voice sounds kinda like Bob Dylan. I love that one time his publicist told me the dude actually speaks fluent French. I love that someone decided it was a good idea to make at least one portable electronic hookah featuring French Montana's name and album cover on it with a light-up diamond on the tip. And I love that I came to work one day to find that a coworker had placed it upon my desk.

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What is an "art object?" Loosely, we can define the term as any single, tangible object that can be interpreted as a metaphorical recreation of or reaction to something else. Therefore, a French Montana e-cigarette is an art object in the sense that it's an interpretation of an actual cigarette, and in the sense that by having French Montana's name on it, it's implied to be a metaphor for French Montana.

Now, do not ask me why a French Montana e-cigarette--er, portable electronic hookah--exists, because I couldn't begin to tell you. Do not ask why Rick Ross rhymes the word "motherfucker" with "motherfucker" twelve times on Excuse My French's "Trap House," because I don't know that either. And whatever you do, Jadakiss, do not ask why you are even alive, because I definitely don't know the answer to that one.

Instead, ponder this: Until the sun engulfs the earth, there will always be something inherently goofy about electronic cigarettes. They illustrate one of the great tricks of late-period capitalism, the crushing illusion that is freedom--by going electric and being able to enjoy the myriad perks of nicotine wherever they please, does a smoker assert their agency over a world telling them not to smoke inside, or are they making a tacit admission of personal weakness, acknowledging that nicotine controls them to the point where they need its sweet, fleeting respite even indoors? Everything is in conversation with everything, and we understand nothing. Agency is fluid. Agency is subjective. Agency is fucking bullshit.

Now, apply this same principle to French Montana. He accidentally invented the word "fanute" by slurring the phrase "from the hoopty coupe" beyond recognition, and had a New York Times article written about it for his trouble, and the increased attention helped latecomers realize he was a genius. His environment (aka the "Stay Schemin'" beat) dictated that he say what he wanted to say in a certain way, so he did, and then managed to change the sphere in which he operated.

French's career has always been indicative of action and reaction, however. After emigrating to the Bronx from Morocco at the age of 13, French learned English in the streets and started hustling in all sorts of legal and extralegal ways, going from celebrated street DVD slinger to Max B creative partner (he was the Art Garfunkel to Max's Paul Simon, at least) to centerpiece of many a Harry Fraud-produced opulent, frozen-faced coke boy anthem to this weird hybrid New York/Atlanta D-Boy to his current iteration as the world's most coldly efficient hitmaker. His latest wave started after he and Fraud released "Shot Caller," probably the fourth-greatest rap song of 2011 after "I'm On One," "Dance (A$$)," and Toby Keith's "Red Solo Cup."

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