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MUSIQOLOGY BLOG FRENCH HIP HOP Le HaineIn the early nineteen-nineties, hip-hop was still a relatively little-known form of music in mainstream French culture. In spite of this, the American-born, urban style of hip-hop resonated in the Parisian inner cities that had flourished in response to the mass influxes of immigrants, arriving mainly from North Africa. Hip-hop came to encapsulate the voice of a marginalized adolescent community, fed up with the omnipresent, rampant social inequalities.

Thus, hip-hop served as both a form of art and a political tool that would bind the opinions of a generation. Groups such as IAM, Fonky Family, Sniper and le 3eme oeil gained great street credibility and critical acclaim, as they remained modest in spite of their relative success. The movie “La Haine” (hatred), released in 1995, became an instant cult movie within France as it addressed social issues that had only been voiced in the underground world of rap. Thus for the first time, rap had become popularized in France as segregation moved to the forefront of popular culture. The culture of hip-hop had thus been re-framed into a marketable concept despite its important role in the debate of social inequality. The Def Jam of France, called “Skyrock”, proceeded to manufacture rappers by the dozen such as Sinik, Booba and Dadoo who, by enlarge, were able to dismantle the political significance in rap by replacing it with the Bling Bling image that had plagued American hip-hop in very much the same way. The initial critical acclaim received by the pioneers of French hip-hop was subsequently eclipsed by the mindless entertainment of the new wave, which was more often ridiculed rather than taken seriously.

MUSIC AND VIDEOS

IAM:

Petit frère: Beautiful song, explaining the life of a teenage delinquent who is torn between violence and family. The group use old tales (such as snow white etc) throughout the song to illustrate the moral dilemmas facing the teenager.

Demain c’est loin:

Again, a fantastic song! This song was the last feature on their most successful album. It is a nine-minute rap divided into two long freestyles by the two artists. The video was released but did not feature the duo and rather, portrayed the images spoken of during the whole song. The topics range from failed politics, boredom, poverty etc..

Nes sous la meme etoile:

Another classic! This song draws on the social inequalities between a rich white French family and a poor, inner city family.

Fonky Family:

Angry, raw, aggressive and filled with talent!

Sans Remission


Mystere et Suspense

Le 3eme oeil:

Amitie Gachee:

Great song explaining how two best friends drifted apart as the one fell deeper into the world of crime and violence.

Kader:

Great song explaining the moral dilemma facing a young kid of North African descent who is disowned by his strict family after they discover his double life.

Sniper:

Du rire aux larmes

Faits Divers: This song is all about political emancipation in the inner city zones. Very powerful stuff!

Andrew Adrianopoulos

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