French Montana Turned Up at Jimmy Jazz and Hinted at a Reebok Collaboration

The rapper let's loose about sneaker culture and what he has going on with Reebok.

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Complex Original

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It’s a hot Sunday in Harlem and people are queued up outside of the Jimmy Jazz on 125th street. They’re waiting for French Montana. A black van parks in front of the store and the crowd envelops the vehicle. Their phones are out and they’re waiting to catch a glimpse of the South Bronx rapper, who’s there to make an appearance for Reebok and help push the brand’s Ventilator ST sneaker.

“It feels good to be here with Reebok," he says. “I’ve been a fan of the brand since the Pumps. I had the Shaqs. Then when [Allen Iverson] got with them, that’s when I really fell in love.”

French is wearing a black pair of Ventilator STs, a sneaker he says he could wear to La Marina, a popular nightclub destination in Washington Heights. “I feel like black goes with everything. It matches the gold,” he says as he flexes the diamond-encrusted Rolex on his wrist.

When asked him if he’s making sneakers with Reebok, he answers, "Yeah, I’ve got something in the works. I’m going to do a Pump. I’m going to do a collaboration with all the [sneakers] that I like,” although Reebok says that there’s nothing official going on between the brand and French, in regards to a footwear collection.

He wouldn’t be the first rapper in recent times that Reebok would have given a sneaker to. There was the Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Ventilators, a mismatched pair of shoes made to symbolize unity between Bloods and Crips. French hasn’t seen those yet, but when told about the concept behind the collaboration he replies, "Oh my God. I don’t know if I could wear a sneaker like that. I understand his point, but I think he’s trying to do something different and I respect that.”

In fact, he can’t wear a lot of sneakers as much as he’d like, something he attributes to always being in the paparazzi’s lens and briefly dating a Kardashian. "I can’t wear the same thing twice. Once they catch me on camera, I can’t wear it again,” French says. “I lose all of my sneakers. I don’t get a chance to save all of them.”

That requires him to purchase multiple sneakers at a time, which he says is upwards of 20 pairs a month, often buying them all at once.

Sneakers and the frenzy that surrounds them are nothing new to French, considering where he grew up. "I went to Roosevelt High School in the Bronx, it’s been like that there,” he says.

The “been like that” he’s referring to is the violence sometimes associated with sneaker culture, which he says is unremarkable to him. “​That’s nothing new to me. I’ve had sneakers stolen out of my locker in high school. Every sneakerhead has a story like that.”

But a lot’s changed for him since those days, too. Kids are waiting by the hundreds for a chance to meet him, even if they don’t have Reeboks on their feet. He’s also made friends with Kanye West, a fact that still doesn’t faze his cool demeanor. “I didn’t feel the need to stunt when I was around him,” French says. "He gave me the Yeezys, and I have the new ones.”

But will we be able to wear the Montanas? That’s something only French and Reebok know.