September 2, 2008
French Hip-Hop is not a subject I can claim to know masses about, but it is a (broad) genre that appeals to me for different reasons than it was perhaps intended. I was introduced to many of the artists below by a (French) friend of mine over the last 4 years.
I am heavily in to hip-hop, specifically the period that some call the ‘Golden Era’, stretching from roughly 1992 to roughly 1997/8 (Gang Starr, Pete Rock, early Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan etc etc etc), as well as some of the UK interpretations of this era that started to appear in the late ’90s. For me, whether or not I like a particular album is almost entirely dependant on whether or not I like the production. MCs such as Guru sound pathetic, monotonous and tame when removed from the consistently brilliant beats of DJ Premier for example. I have also never particularly been interested in lyrics (although sometimes it is hard not to be), more in the delivery and rhythmic sensibilities of the artist.
This is where French Hip-Hop has an advantage over some similarly categorised US or UK artists, as 90% of the lyrics are impossible for me to understand. Therefore, there is only production and flow left to enjoy. And this is in plentiful supply, as is evident by the examples below!
Taken from the 2005 album ’73 Touches’. Hocus Pocus is the brain child of multi-talented producer, DJ, musician ’20SYL’ also known for his work with much celebrated DJ group C2C.
Taken from the 1999 album ‘KLR’. One of France’s most successful international exports (along with the likes of IAM and MC Solaar), Saian Super Crew consists of various members of other French Hip-Hop groups, and are known for incorporating many different styles including Reggae and Dancehall, as well as covering albums with singing and beat-boxing. This is all evident on the 2002 award winning ‘X-Raisons’.
Taken from the 2001 album ‘Sol Invictus’. A Former member of infamous Marseille-based group IAM, Akhenaton became known for socially conscious rhymes, as well as finding success as a producer.
Taken from the 1997 album ‘Sad Hill’. Another ex-IAM member, DJ Kheops produced his first solo album in 1997 with a host of different MCs and collaborators, selling over 150,000 copies.
Taken from the 1998 album ‘Opera Puccino’. Often referred to as the ‘French Notorious B.I.G’, Mali born Oxmo Puccino developed a street-smart style inspired by his surroundings in the infamous and highly dangerous 19th district of Paris. This track is taken from his 1998 debut.
Taken from the 1996 album ‘O’riginal MC’s Sur Une Mission’. Generally considered to exist at the hardcore end of the French Hip-Hop spectrum, Idéal J were formed in the early ’90s in the infamous suburbs of Paris. Unafraid to shock, the group released a hard-hitting debut in 1992 appropriately titled ‘La Vie Est Brutale’ (Life is Brutal). This offering from their 1996 follow up is more restrained in both production and delivery.