Immigrant of the Week: French Montana

Published 15 November 2019 by Siskind Susser PC

French Montana’s ‘Unforgettable’ swept the nation as one of the biggest Hip Hop songs of the year in 2017 with his album Jungle Rules putting him on the world stage as a musician. Many people know his name, but do not know his immigration story.

Karim Kharbouch is his real name, and he was born and raised in Casablanca, Morocco. When Montana was 13, his family immigrated to the United States. Spending his teens living in the South Bronx, New York was difficult because his father moved back to Morocco shortly after and left dependence on Montana in the family. Montana speaks English, Arabic, and French. He began his rapping career in 2002 as a battle rapper. After many years of switching around labels, he made a comeback in 2014 working on a new mixtape with other famous rappers such as Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, and others. He continued to collaborate over the following years with artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Rick Ross, Jay-Z, DJ Khaled, and Chance the Rapper.

In the fall of 2019, Montana gave an interview talking about wanting to be the face of immigration. He also gave a pro-immigration speech while presenting the award for the best Latin video at the 2019 MTV VMAs. Montana was officially sworn in as an American citizen in June 2018 and has spoken up for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as he could not go to college because the program was not yet implemented. Apart from his advocacy about immigration, French Montana is also an avid philanthropist. He raised half a million dollars to build the Suubi hospital in Uganda, which serves over 300,000 citizens of Uganda. From his work, he was the first rapper to be given the Global Citizen Ambassador award. Keep up the fantastic work!

— Contributed by Eden Siskind