The rapper often releases album artwork that blends elements of Arab, Moroccan, and Islamic culture.
Rabat – French Montana’s new album “Montana” dropped on December 5, and the rapper used artwork and lyrics to pay yet another tribute to his heritage. The 35-year-old, whose real name is Karim Kkarbouch, grew up in Casablanca before emigrating to New York at the age of 13.
After a brief stint in a Los Angeles hospital last week, French Montana released his greatly anticipated new music. “Montana” contains previously-released tracks such as “Wiggle It” and “No Stylist” along with an array of new songs.
The Moroccan-American rapper caused a stir in late September when he first teased the “Montana” album artwork, showing the artist surrounded by women in black burqas and red thigh-high boots.
Some social media users dubbed the cover “haram” or disrespectful to Islam for the choice to “sexualize niqabis,” describing women who wear niqabs. One Instagram user called it “deeply offensive.”
French Montana has now released more artwork for the official release of the album. New photos show the Moroccan-American rapper in a blue and red patterned robe, a pair of light blue trousers with gold trim, red velvet loafers, and a red scarf tied around his head.
In a headshot, the rapper’s “pray” neck tattoo is in full view, along with glittering chains and a mouth of gold-plated teeth.
Another image places a woman with a red, sequined hijab alongside the rapper’s headshot.
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The album contains a new song titled “Salam Alaykum,” and the track features the Arabic phrases “wallahi” (I swear to God) and “assalamu ʿalaykum” (peace be upon you).
Like several of his previously-released songs, “Salam Alaykum” directly references Morocco with the lyrics “Yeah, sit Moroccan couches/Fountain of youth crib like Mott Haven housin’.”
Another song on the album, “Say Goodbye,” references when the rapper moved from Morocco to the US with his family: “Ayy, Al Pacino his first screen/Young Morocco he was 13.”
Throughout his career, French Montana has always expressed pride in his North African and Arab roots.
He performed at Morocco’s 2018 Mawazine music festival before a crowd of 100,000 Moroccan concert-goers. Before finishing the show, the singer, songwriter, and producer expressed his love and devotion to God, his country, and the king. He then thanked the Moroccan public, whom he esteemed to be the “best crowd” he had seen in a long time.
After performing at Mawazine, the artist conducted a press conference in Arabic. Montana specifically cited “feel[ing] like being part of the Arabic success,” adding that Arab rappers account for “only a small community” in the global hip-hop forum.
“I just loved being a Moroccan guy who left his home at 13 to make the best music possible,” said Montana.