French Montana (real name Karim Kharbouch) was born on 9 November 1984 in Morocco and grew up in Casablanca. In 1996, his family moved to New York.
Kharbouch started reading rap when he was just a teenager. Back then, he used a pseudonym Young French. In 2002, Karim and his close friend Cam came up with a series of street DVDs called Cocaine City. The discs included interviews with famous and aspiring rappers. Soon they became some of the most sold street DVDs. They were being released until 2010.
In 2007, under the pseudonym French Montana, Kharbouch released his 1st mixtape French Revolution Vol. 1. It was created together with Mazaradi Fox, Jae Millz, Uncle Murda, and Tony Yayo. A year later Montana recorded another mixtape Live From Africa.
In February 2009, French Montana and Max B released a joint album Coke Wave. Two weeks later Karim presented another solo mixtape, The Laundry Man. In April, Montana released his 5th album Mac Wit Da Cheese. One of the singles “New York Minute" was produced by Harry Fraud. Then Harry and French recorded a song "We Playin In The Wind", which was featured in the next Kharbouch’s mixtape The Laundry Man 2.
At the beginning of 2009, Kharbouch signed a contract with a rapper Akon and his label Konvict Music. Montana and Akon worked on several tracks including a single "Married to the Streets" from Karim’s 7th mixtape Cocaine Konvicts. In November, Montana and Max B recorded Coke Wave 2.