French Montana recently appeared on The Message with Ebro Darden for Apple Music 1. Within their discussion, the Moroccan rapper opened up about his Arab-American heritage and how he honors the religious month of fasting.
French, née Karim Kharbouch, migrated to the States from the African country when he was 13 and grew up identifying as a Muslim.
Speaking to the culture shock of coming to America and still having the discipline to make himself successful, he expressed to Ebro, “Everybody’s dream is to come to the United States. I remember when my aunt was getting me dressed to go to the airport, she was like, ‘You’re getting dressed like you going to America.’ I was like, ‘I am.’ She was like, ‘You are,’ and it was a moment. It’s like hitting the lottery.”
He added, “But when you watch it as a kid, they only show you the skyline and they show you the big buildings and the penthouses and this and that. You thinking you going to heaven, you know what I’m saying? You get here — they sent me to Mott Haven projects into East Tremont Lafontaine by Crotona Park with all the Africans — and it was like, ‘Yo, where am I at? I should’ve stayed in Morocco for this.'”
French moved across the world with Islamic values of discipline instilled in him, although he admitted that it took him years to adjust.
“It took me a couple years to understand how to move,” he revealed about his migration to another country. “And basically it just made me realize that anything is possible… that impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. It made me just learn discipline. Discipline is going to make today hard, but tomorrow easy. And I learned that having excuses is going to make today easy and tomorrow hard and things like that.”
March 22-April 22 is especially important to him, as it is a sacred month of “intense spiritual rejuvenation with a heightened focus on devotion.” The “No Stylist” rapper said he takes Ramadan seriously by fasting from food, social media, “negative things” and more.
“I fast. I don’t go on Instagram. I don’t go on social media. I stay away from all the negative things,” he said. “I do everything I’m supposed to do for Ramadan. I get better with Ramadan every year since I was young. I get more focused. Every Ramadan it gets harder because you’re trying to do things you didn’t do last Ramadan just to get better. It’s all about energy. For me to not work during Ramadan, I lose a lot of money, but then it keeps me away from just seeing naked females and this and this and that.”
He continued, “My getting better is to try to cancel shows, try to do this, try to give it all my power, and that’s what I go through every Ramadan. This Ramadan, I read the whole Quran, again, just to gain more knowledge, get closer to the man upstairs and things like that. And even as far as fasting, I make sure I don’t sleep most of the day, that I wake up and really experience the fast and just pray Fajr and just do all things I’m supposed to do on Ramadan.”
At only 38, the Coke Boyz Records founder is putting his life-story on film for his forthcoming documentary, produced by Drake. Reportedly, The Bronx rapper will chronicle his migration to America, love life, road to success and more.
“This documentary just tells my immigrant story basically, and all the people that followed me from the day that I started till now,” he revealed. “I feel like a lot of people know me, but a lot of people just know me by the music. A lot of people know me from me dating people. It could be this, it could be that, but I want people to know me for the right reasons and I feel like this documentary just is more based on the struggle.”
“I watch a lot of documentaries and I see a lot of people—this is not no shots at nobody—I see a lot of people just highlight the trophies and highlight the accomplishments and highlight why they got jerked by the Grammys and highlight this and highlight that and I really want to know the actual artists,” he added.
He also revealed that the doc will highlight his relationship with his parents, getting shot, meeting his close friend and music collaborator, the late rapper Chinx, and meeting Max B, who was sentenced to 75 years in prison on conspiracy charges related to armed robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault and felony murder.
“It’s the whole enchilada,” he spoke of his life-story. “Me being almost black balled after he [Max B] went to jail … me just going through all the obstacles. Shout out to Drake for helping me do it. Shout out to Puff. Shout out to Max B for letting them cameras come inside that maximum security prison and helping me document it. It just shows that me, her and my father came here not even speaking English and it shows that your temporary moment doesn’t have nothing to do with your long-term.”
Take a listen to French Montana’s full interview with Ebro on Apple Music 1 here.