Kingston, New York isn’t known for much–most New Yorkers probably couldn’t pinpoint the small town some 90 miles away if you asked–but French Montana wants to put it on the hip-hop map. The Bronx rapper has just signed Kingston native Velous to his Coke Boys label, joining a roster that already features Chicago drill ascendant Lil Durk, producer Harry Fraud, and Queens rapper Chinx.
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“I love his style. He sings. He raps. He’s everything in one,” French says exclusively to Sound of the City about signing the singer/rapper/producer. French’s manager, Gaby Acevedo, put Velous on his radar and like a modern-day audition, the 22-year-old came to the studio earlier this year and played his material. “He came to the studio and played me like 1000 songs,” French remembers, laughing. The prolific upstart didn’t just impress French. Kanye West, who is working on French’s forthcoming Mac & Cheese 4 album, picked “like two beats” from Velous as well.
“It just felt like a really good place to have a family. It felt like a good place to have a foundation,” Velous says about inking his deal. “I definitely want to work with everyone on the roster. I want to see everybody at the top, all of us working together. French is already killing. He’s one of the hardest workers in the industry. That work ethic inspires me. “
Velous has been grinding in his own right since his teens. Largely self-taught, the multi-instrumentalist, who plays the drums, piano and guitar, moved to New Jersey three years ago. It was this musical dexterity that caught French’s ear. “Him knowing how to sing, rap, making his own beats. He’ll make his own beat and rap and sing. What else you want?” he says.
Velous has been heavily working with local hotshot Vinylz (who has notched production credits with the likes of Jay Z and Drake), including their recent collaboration, DJ SpinKing’s “Adult Swim” featuring A$AP Ferg, Jeremih, and Tyga.
He will release a free album,Velocity, this summer. He describes it as “futuristic meets retro,” a style which can be heard on his throwback homage “Ginuwine Article.” “There’s a lot of Stevie [Wonder] influence. There’s a lot of Michael [Jackson] influence. There’s a lot of Earth, Wind & Fire influence. I’m also heavily influenced by The Neptunes.”
Velous is also working on Mac & Cheese 4, which French reveals has about 50 songs in the can.
Even before anything drops, Velous is already feeling the love from back home. “I’m just thankful for the opportunity to put this city on. This is really dope,” he says. “I’m just glad I can give my city hope. “