French Montana's "Unforgettable" single is the biggest record of his career, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and racking up seven million sales worldwide, but if the rapper didn't have deep pockets, it would have never seen the light of day.
During his appearance on The Breakfast Club on Tuesday (August 2), Montana revealed that not only did he have to come out of pocket to clear the song's sample but he also paid for the video shoot himself.
"It was so much to clear the record," said French. "I had to pay $300,000 out of my own pocket. Not the label. Out of my own pocket, I had to pay $300,000. Then go to the label and the label's like, 'We can only give you half of that, we never heard about paying $300,000.' That's what you call believing in the record."
When pressed by Breakfast Club co-host DJ Envy for further details on the sample clearance process, as well an unnamed "lady with an estate" who had to sign off on the clearance, Montana fumbled his words and, in a very convoluted manner, attempted to explain that since the record was also Swae Lee's single, additional individuals needed to provide approval in what became a five-month-long ordeal.
According to WhoSampled, only one sample can be found on "Unforgettable," which is The Weeknd's 2011 record, "Wicked Games," co-produced by Doc McKinney and Illangelo—which itself contains zero samples—but, at no point during the interview does Montana confirm which rights holder needed to give him the green light.
"Mind you, $300k and then another $300k to shoot the video, so I'm already $600k in the hole," added French, who later revealed that he has already made back his initial return on investment thanks to the single's worldwide success.
Considering the label wasn't interested in funding the sample clearance—or the video shoot—what made French Montana want to spend so much of own hard-earned money for a record that Drake had already passed on?
"I feel like if I waited—if I waited for anything in my life—I wouldn't be French Montana. Sometimes, you just have to take matters into your own hands," said French.
You win some, you lose some. This time, French won.