French rap forgets its uncle from America

Posted today at 07h00

Just a few years ago it was unthinkable. For a rap fan, one day or another, he had to go on a pilgrimage to the cradle of hip-hop culture, to New York or Los Angeles, why not Atlanta or Miami. You had to come back after robbing the streetwear stores of Manhattan or the Fulton Street mall in Brooklyn, having spent hours on Melrose Avenue, in Los Angeles, unearthing vintage t-shirts of the gangsta rap group NWA. (Niggaz Wit Attitudes), rummaging for hours in Amoeba Music’s vinyl bins.

Impossible to come back to France without having been at least one night at the Tunnel club in New York, and having met famous rappers there, also impossible not to have watched whole hours of street basketball games in Spanish Harlem. You must have risked your skin by driving, the car radio blasting, on Crenshaw Boulevard, the Los Angeles thoroughfare infested with gangs. You had to go to the United States and come back full of anecdotes.

The American rap scene is no longer a dream …

Today, you fall naked when you talk to one of the biggest successes of French rap at the end of 2020. Kalash Criminel has just published his second album, Survival, and gives interviews over the phone from Germany, where he stays and whose lifestyle he says he enjoys. “Before confinement, I was invited to the United States by a basketball cousin, he recounts. With the restrictions related to Covid-19, the trip was canceled. It didn’t make me hot or cold. “ A French rapper who is reluctant to cross the Atlantic, and prefers Germany, it is possible in 2020.

It is because the North American rap scene no longer makes France dream. In the 1990s and 2000s, the French charts were filled with songs from the United States. Coolio, Eminem and so many others have composed the soundtrack for many teenage Frenchies. They imposed the “Urban music” (which brings together rap, but also R’n’B and other genres from the United States), as a music in its own right. A genre that is today the mainstream in France. Except that, in the meantime, he has become French.

In the ranking of the hundred most listened albums in 2020, all genres combined, established by the National Union of Phonographic Publishing, there are more than sixty rap and R’n’B artists from France. Rapper Eminem, who released his eleventh album in January, struggles to reach 105e square. The first North American on the list, The Weeknd, arrives at the 21e square. Before him, almost only French urban musicians: Aya Nakamura, Ninho, Maes, Nekfeu, Soprano, Hatik, PNL, Damso, Jul… As for singles, the same phenomenon. And if the Blinding Lights from The Weeknd comes first, followed by songs from Heuss the bastard, Jul, Bosh or Soolking…

You have 80.62% of this article left to read. The rest is for subscribers only.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here