The only thing They Got Amnesia proves is why we all forgot about French Montana in the first place.
“For the next game, you need to name FIVE French Montana songs without features.” It was this challenge — issued to the world in the form of a Squid Game Twitter meme — that more or less kicked off the publicity campaign for They Got Amnesia, where an ever-cross French swiftly responded by naming 14 of his solo tracks (including the first single for this album, what a lucky coincidence) and claiming that the listening public at large has collective memory loss when it comes to the Moroccan rapper’s many decorated achievements. Ignoring the glaringly obvious marketing tactics employed here to stir up non-existent hype — mighty convenient that this interaction occurred right as French was finishing his fourth studio album — it does raise an important question: just what exactly are the many triumphs of French Montana? Since we’ve seemingly forgotten about all of his accomplishments, he goes ahead and lists them rather humorlessly on a shameless rip-off of Big Sean’s “I Don’t Fuck With You”: he has a lot of money, he’s dated a lot of celebrities, he’s friends with a lot of celebrities, he’s apparently influenced Travis Scott’s creative decisions; all of these trivial auto-biographical details are sprinkled throughout, but they lack any sense of real lived-in specificity to make them stick. He keeps insisting that “I don’t really care,” patently untrue given the song’s conception, but what should be a carefree sentiment ends up bitter and conceited — he comes off as a bothersome curmudgeon, sitting on his throne and angrily stewing over his perceived lack of respect from afar.
Simply put, there’s no possible way that French Montana could ever make any part of his lavish lifestyle sound authentically exciting; he’s far too monotone, too awkward, too bland a performer to ever stimulate. He suffocates his verses with dead air, often rapping only one syllable at a time and filling empty space with overplayed adlibs — which will eventually build toward some lame punchline about oral sex, followed by a shout-out to Max B. He’s a charisma vacuum, one who has little to no talent when it comes to providing any semblance of allure to his music other than, you guessed it, the impressive list of guests he can still reliably assemble. So there’s a deep irony at the core of his latest project, at least when considered in this light: in an effort to prove these aforementioned detractors wrong, Montana has released an album whose most notable characteristics are its features — which isn’t even to suggest they’re all consistent in quality, but bring more of a presence than anything else he could string along. Doja Cat and Saweetie, two financially well-off women from upper-middle-class upbringings, allege they’re both “hood-rat bitch[es]” on the zestless “Handstand,” where each embarrasses themselves in different ways (Doja’s on vocal auto-pilot, Saweetie compares changing a baby’s diaper to missionary position) but are at least somewhat likable with how far they’re willing to take their shtick. Kodak Black, who’s collaborated well with French before on “Lockjaw,” grumbles his way through the inferior “Mopstick,” where the duo’s once singular sinister chemistry now feels watered down and tame. The only real positive stand-out is Coi Leray, whose infectious, short-burst chorus saves the non-starter “Push Start” — but then French shades her in the lamest way possible on “Bag Season” (“Your money thin like Coi Leray”), reminding everyone exactly why they forgot about his irrelevant ass in the first place.
Published as part of Album Roundup — November 2021 | Part 1.