Oxmo Puccino & the Jazz Bastards @ Salle D. Ferry (Nanterre)

943346790_l.jpgWhile they say France is the second largest consumer of rap music after the US, it does not necessarily follow that French hip-hop and rap deserves as wide an audience. Since my return to France in 2004, most hip-hop/rap that I have come accross here shamelessly apes the WORST of American street culture to the point where I can’t take it seriously. Most French rappers toil way too long in the hip-hop tropes of a lazy man (i.e. bling-bling, partying, misogyny, and thugging), without even playing their strongest card, a cartesian education and a direct link to sub-saharan Africa and the Arab World. While all the elements are there : black-blanc-beur disenfranchised youth ; a beautiful, complex, (& musically underrated) Western language ; a rich French musical heritage SCREAMING to be sampled ; and a dizzying array of cultures that could EASILY upstage American white-black-latino-eastcoast-westcoast sensibilities. Only once these elements have been throroughly explored, I believe French rap may then have serious potential to ressurect the entire genre worldwide.

À ce qu’il parait, la France serait le 2e marché de la musique rap après les USA ce qui ne veut pas dire que le rap français mérite un aussi grand public. Depuis mon retour en 2004, la plupart du rap/hip-hop que je croise singe sans la moindre honte le PIRE de la culture urbaine états-unienne à un tel point que j’ai du mal à l’accepter telle quelle. Trop de rappeurs français travaillent trop dur dans les figures de style des fainéants (ex. le bling-bling, la fête, la misogynie, et le hooliganisme), sans jouer leurs cartes les plus fortes (une éducation cartésienne + des liens plus directs avec l’Afrique noire et le monde arabe). Pourtant tous les éléments y sont : des jeunes black-blanc-beur privés de leurs droits civiques ; une langue occidentale à la fois belle et complexe (et surestimée musicalement) ; une riche héritage de la chanson française qui CRIE pour être samplée ; et un étalage de cultures stupéfiant qui pourrait BOULVERSER les traditions typiquement américaines inspirées des sensibilités blanc-noir-latino-Californie-New Yorkaises. Une fois que tous ces éléments seront raffinés, j’estime que le rap français aurait le potentiel de ranimer le genre dans le monde.


My recent trip out to the college-town banlieu of Nanterre, was encouraging and well worth the RER (like Metro North or the LIRR in NYC) ride a few weeks ago, when I got a chance to see rapper Oxmo Puccino and the Jazz Bastards at a small concert venue with my friend G. Malian-born, Oxmo is among a handful of French rappers I can tolerate because he not only raps with a respect for the French language (influences include Belgian singer, and mom’s fave, Jacques Brel and French crooner Charles Aznavour), but he also performs with a capable live jazz band (the Jazz Bastards) on his latest album, Lippoppette Bar. The album tells the the stories of the host of shady characters that Oxmo, as bouncer “Black Popeye”, encounters at a local Parisian bar. Yeah, I know the rapper with jazz band model is nothing new. Like The Roots, the live band adds musical credibility to Oxmo’s unanimously respected gruff n’ tuff vocal delivery.

Mon trajet récent vers la banlieue universitaire de Nanterre, m’a un peu encouragée. Le billet de RER en valait la peine pour aller voir le concert du rappeur Oxmo Puccino and the Jazz Bastards dans une petite salle de concert avec mon pote, G. Né au Mali, Oxmo est un minorité des rappeurs français que je peux supporter parce qu’il respecte, la langue française et joue ses concerts avec un bon petit groupe de jazz (the Jazz Bastards) sur son dernier disque Lippopette Bar. Oxmo joue le rôle d’un videur «Black Popeye» dans un bar parisien et raconte les histoires de ses habitués. Oué, je sais la formule groupe de jazz+ rappeur, a déjà été vu. Cependant, comme les Roots, le jazz-band donne Oxmo une certaine crédibilité à son style bourru et dur à cuire très respecté à la fois par les critiques et son public.

In all fairness, I have similar criticisms of American rap that is crashing and burning as I write. In both countries, artists are often less to blame for the genre’s shortcomings than the industry that binds them. So when many of my US friends ask, «What’s the Paris hip-hop scene like ? » I generally roll my eyes with a sigh and just pray for its speedy recovery. That said, I am open to suggestions and even have a few folks on my radar : slightly subversive, La Rumeur, international hipsters, La Caution, folk hip-hopper/multi-tasker, Spleen, and the funky phrasings of Saian Supa Crew. To be continued…

En toute justesse, j’ai les mêmes critiques du rap américain qui en ce moment s’écrase mortellement. Dans les deux pays, l’industrie musicale est plus reprochable pour la chute du genre plutôt que les artistes eux-mêmes. Lorsque mes amis américains me demandent, «Comment trouves-tu la scène hip-hop à Paris?» Généralement, je roule les yeux avec un soupir et lui souhaite un prompt rétablissement. Cela dit, je reste ouvert à vos suggestions et tiens à vous en citer quelques-uns captés sur mon écran de radar : La Rumeur, pour leurs tendances subversives ;La Caution, des rappeurs un peu branchés malgré eux ; le chanteur polyvalent de folk/hip-hop, Spleen ; et la funky-ttude de Saian Supa Crew. À suivre…

8 Comments

Filed under 10 euros, Black Paris / Paris Noir, Cheap drinks/ Cocktails pas chers, French Song / Variété Française, Hip-Hop, Jazz, La Caution, La Rumeur, Music / Musique, Oxmo Puccino & The Jazz Bastards, Rap, Saian Supa Crew, sexy French music, Spleen

8 responses to “Oxmo Puccino & the Jazz Bastards @ Salle D. Ferry (Nanterre)

  1. Maralene

    Sounds good. I know little about rap. Maybe VH1 will sponsor a new reality show about French rappers. What do you think?

  2. That’s not a bad idea at all, Mom.

  3. Pingback: Hindi Zahra @ La Bellevilloise « Paris, noire sur blanc

  4. Venicia

    I like that one song that Sian Supa Crew did with Seeed “Thing”….do you call them rappers or Ragga artist…when i listen to them, my Jamaican ears, pick up a heavier influence of jamaican dancehall than Rap but then again I have only heard 5 songs and my french is bad, so i go for the rythm and how the lyrics flow with it…
    I agree with you though on American Rap….I cant even listen…it is bad, really bad….but apparently this Lupe Fiasco is supposed to lift it out of its slime and take it back to the days when it stood for something other than bling bling and naked women and disrespecting of women…BTW…Bill Cosby is supposedly releasing an album of positive rap….interesting…Anyway I may have a leak for you in july of a new song by three big artist, well two big and one wicked emerging artist…lets just say it is similar to concept of that Air Force one classic song that Naz and others did for Nike but this song goes beyong genre, it is ecclectic it is ……..will tell you more off air :>) I will see to it that you get the french lexclusive leak…well i will try my best you know the internet…

  5. If you are interested in French music, I ve a blog in English about it: http://french-kisses.blogspot.com (not only hip-hop of course)

    There are some really good hip-hop band in France. Oxmo is great, La Caution and the saian supa crew too. But you can also listen to lunatic, Ideal J, La cliqua, Iam , NTM, Klub des loosers, TTC (not the last LP) and many many others!

  6. American Rap, French Rap, Even Tha Japanese, Americanz are more self center’d after think’n we’re tha best country, not many other countriez will be recognized b’cuz of our language problem; American English. If yu don’t speak it, no1 listenz..again we sre self center’d. I don’t know much bout other countries rappin, I’mma fan of a few rapperz of france, but most of tha songz I listen 2, I translate them cuz I don’t know much of tha wordz.

  7. Nadege

    If you like conscious lyrics,check out Assassin,Rockin Squat,Fabe et koma,Scred connection…

  8. victor

    French hip hop also has a strong tradition of excellence, less commercial of course

    lyrics add to the experience of what the artist is saying, but musically these tracks are good in themselves:


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