French Montana's debut album Excuse My French arrived earlier this week. Like many rappers who blew up in the past 10 years, his hustle was built underground and off the books. Before a street rapper gets a "debut" record in 2013, he's likely got a career's worth of recordings and releases already out. In order to become a grassroots success story, years of free music is a part of the equation these days.

French is no exception. What follows is a rough guide to French Montana's mixtape discography, highlighting some of the tapes that built his reputation. The buzz from these releases created such demand that he was in a bidding war between MMG, G.O.O.D. Music, and, of course, his eventual patron, Bad Boy Records.

Of course, in French's case, it wasn't just mixtapes that tell the story of his arrival. Throughout the 2000s, a bustling street DVD scene helped give rise to a number of artists, and French's Cocaine City series was one of the most acclaimed. So this is only a partial look at his rise, a glance at his music and how it developed. So look no further, this is A Guide to French Montana's Mixtapes...

Written by David Drake (@somanyshrimp)

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