DANS LA RUE: Paris Urban Youth Culture
In the third installment of our podcast series with guest Josquin, we talk about the seminal French film La Haine by Mathieu Kassovitz and the incredible French hip hop soundtrack it spawned.  The album features a who's who list of French rap acts from the golden era that was the mid 90s: MC Solaar, IAM, Assassin, CutKiller, Raggasonic, and more.  The film together with the soundtrack paints a complete picture of the (sub)urban culture of that era.  As Josquin points out, it's the ghettoization of the young people's environment that not only gives birth to this true-to-life tale but also gives rise to the emergence of a raw, politically charged French hip hop scene.  Together with the albums of NTM and IAM, the soundtrack to La Haine constitutes the canon of most essential French rap records.

The trailer below gives a taste of the intensity prevalent at the time, laying the foundation for the riots and discontent of recent years.

In this latest podcast, I chat with French music scenester Josquin about the realest of the real of French hip hop: Supreme NTM, the hardcore rap group that laid the foundation for France's rap scene.  In contrast to the easy-listening stylings of MC Solaar, these boys pack the aggression like 9mm's tucked into the back of their sagging jeans.  We cover the group's origins on the streets of Seine-Saint-Denis to their rise in the mid-90's to their mainstreamization.  And of course, we listen to some choice tracks handpicked by Josquin.

For more of Paris' answer to NWA and Wu-Tang, check out this treasure trove of streaming tracks.

Entrance to Crea Street
Delving deeper into the Paris graffiti world, in my latest podcast I interview Olivier Jacquet, graffiti artist, Graff It! magazine publisher, and owner of the street art store Crea Street. I was lucky to get the interview since I stumbled into his store on a random Saturday afternoon waiting for my ride at the Gentilly train station.  Olivier was extremely friendly and gave great insight on where Paris graff writers get down, how they're cleverly evading the police, the different styles that come from various cities in France, and who's who in the Paris scene.

A few other interesting things to note:
  • Olivier is a family man, best evidenced by the fact that his 5-foot-tall mother was working behind the counter with him and knew every product in the store.  Sadly, she declined to be photographed.
  • Olivier also mentioned (if memory serves) that the graffiti scene in Paris goes way back to at least 1980.
  • The woman that came in and started interpreting for us purchased not spraypaint, but a can of wood furniture varnish.  Crea Street really does serve ALL creative types.
  • Olivier has been publishing Graff It! since 1994!
  • Olivier seems to frequent New York City and is tight with legendary graff writers like Cope2 and TATS CRU.
  • The track "Police" that bookends the podcast is by Supreme NTM, the same Saint-Denis rap group that Olivier mentions had a significant impact on the graffiti scene since both were also graff writers.  Here's their video for "My People" which celebrates graffiti culture:


The top taggers in Paris according to Olivier are:

Bear with me folks (or is it bare with me?), I'm trying something new with this entry.  You might've noticed the nice little SoundCloud mp3 clip at the bottom of this entry.  That's right folks, I'm breaking my new single! It's called "French Rapper's Delight."  I kid, I kid.  It's actually my first podcast.  I'm very new at this medium so please consider, that from here, I can only go up.  Today's topic of discussion: origins of the French Hip Hop scene and its brightest star MC Solaar. 

I realize that I forgot to mention that the intro music for the podcast, in case you didn't catch it, was MC Solaar's debut single "Bouge de la" which more or less means "Move on" or "Get out of here."  For more on Solaar, check out his extensive bio on RFI Musique.  Additionally, here's more background on the actions taken against French rappers following the 2005 riots.


    Brian is a writer, dancer, activist, and general hip hop head from New York City. He is currently working towards his Master's in Global Communications in Paris.  


    December 2010
    November 2010
    October 2010
    September 2010

    RSS Feed


    Black Youth
    Electro Dance
    Ethnic Identity
    French Hip Hop
    Les Frigos
    Mc Solaar
    News Coverage
    Notorious Ibe
    Saint Denis
    Speedy Graphito
    Street Art
    Street Dance
    Supreme Ntm
    Techno Parade
    Who Iz Who
    Zulu Nation