On the second floor of an office building in Midtown NYC, French Montana is sitting at a desk in his studio, playing beats off his Macbook through the studio's speakers. He’s wearing big black sunglasses with gold arms, a white shirt, a pair of very baggy jeans, a pair of white high-tops, and (according to him) about $100,000 worth of jewelry. There are many things going on with French these days, including his upcoming debut album Excuse My French and his hit single “Pop That,” but we’re here to interview him about one thing: "Fanute."
"Fanute" is term he accidentally created when he rapped, "From the hoopty coupe to that Ghost, dawg," on Rick Ross' "Stay Schemin'," but because of French's languid flow, "From the hoopty coupe" sounded like "fanute the coupe" to everyone who heard it. The word has since taken on a life of its own. So much so that it was the subject of a piece in The New York Times Magazine this past weekend. A few minutes before we walked into the studio, after being told he was going to be interviewed about the word, French tweeted "Fanute" in celebration.
When asked about the popularity of “Fanute,” French looked around for a second and nodded like he knew he should be nodding but wasn’t totally sure about what we were asking, giving the impression that he's not really aware of the "fanute" phenomenon. So we got French to search the word on Twitter.
When he saw how many results there were (as the Times piece points out, someone uses "fanute" on Twitter roughly every 30 seconds), he starts laughing and reading through people’s tweets out loud: "French Montana might have a successful career because of fanute," "I just put the fanute in the car and now it runs great," "French Montana is retarded #fanute." A man sitting next to French wearing a Coke Boys T-shirt shirt says, "Yo, we should trademark that. Like how Baby said he wished he trademarked 'bling bling.'" French Montana nods.
Interview by David Shapiro (@fusedavid)
Complex: If you had to decide what “fanute” meant, because people use it for just about anything, what would you say it means?"
French Montana: Let's see...It means, you know: to convert, to flip, to swap, to make better. But it could mean what you want it to mean.
How would you use it in a sentence?
[Laughs.] Like, “I'm about to go fanute on the block,” “I'm about to fanute with shorty.” Stuff like that." [Laughs.] It just sounds funny.
How would you never want “fanute” to be used?
Just no disrespectful ways.
When you first recorded the track and they played your rap back, did everyone in the room hear “fanute” or did people hear “from the” and only later realized what it sounded like?
Oh, definitely, everybody heard “fanute” the first time.
So why didn't you do another take?
Because that's kinda like how I talk. I knew what I had said and I didn't wanna have to keep correcting what other people heard. That's just how I talk.
So what was the hoopty coupe? What kind of car?
That was the [Dodge] Magnum. It was red. I think it was an '04. That was the hoopty coupe. Then I moved up.
What'd you move up to? What kind of cars do you have now?
Oh, I got the [Rolls-Royce] Ghost, the Masi (Maserati), the Jeep, the Durango. The Turtle Top.
What's a Turtle Top?
It's a conversion van. Got the TVs in it.
Which car do you prefer to drive?
To get back to “fanute,” have you ever coined a slang word before?
Oh yeah, me and Max [B] made up “Wavy.” Well, he came up with it but we both started saying it and then everyone started saying it.
You're from the South Bronx—is there any slang that's big there that isn't big in other parts of the city?
You got mad Puerto Ricans there, and they say “darrdy.” It means, like, homie. You say, “What's up, darrdy?'" [Laughs.]
Do you have a favorite slang term?
"'Juheard,'" which I think is "you heard?" with a Puerto Rican accent.
Would you use "fanute" in another song? Like, will you intentionally start saying it?
[Pauses and thinks.] Yeah, I probably would because that's what the people want. They want me to rep it, you know? They want me so say it. So I'ma give 'em what they want.