Most French hip hop artists come from poor urban areas outside of Paris known as the banlieues (including Lunatic, Mafia K1 Fry, La Brigade, Secteur Ä), Lyon, Lille, Le Havre (La Boussole), Strasbourg, Toulouse (KDD) or Marseille (IAM, Fonky Family, Psy 4 De La Rime, 3ème Oeil, and others). Many French rappers are products of the HLM and use their tough upbringing as sources of inspiration in their lyrics.
The majority of French rappers are descended from African and DOM-TOM immigrants. Even though some of the pioneers like Lionel D and DJ Dee Nasty are not of African descent, Africans have dominated the music scene. However, in contrast to the United States, France has always featured numerous racially-mixed groups. Many of the most important rappers in France are Caucasian (including Kool Shen, of Portuguese and French descent ; Akhenaton, of Italian descent ; Diam’s, of Cypriot and French descent ; and Sinik, of Kabylian and French descent). Many are also immigrants from former French colonies who have moved to France for education or a better life. MC Solaar, who was born in Senegal, released his first CD in 1991. Within France, the two cities with the largest hip hop scene are Paris (the majority of French rappers come from the suburbs of Paris.) and Marseille.
History Hip hop first appeared in France in 1979, just as the genre was achieving some success in the United States. Its popularity was due to the large African presence in France. By 1982, a number of hip hop radio stations had appeared, including Rapper Dapper Snapper, and the future star DJ Dee Nasty made his first appearance. That same year saw the first major hip hop concert, the New York City Rap Tour, sponsored by Europe 1 and featuring Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmixer DST, Fab 5 Freddy, Mr Freeze and the Rock Steady Crew.
The first major star of French hip hop was MC Solaar, born Claude M’Barali in Dakar, Senegal. He moved to France in 1970 and lived in Villeneuve-Saint-Georges. His 1991 Qui sème le vent récolte le tempo, was a major hit. The European Music Office’s report on Music in Europe claimed that the French language was well-suited for rapping, and that MC Solaar’s popularity came about « probably because of his very open and positive attitude, his strong literary talents and humour ». He set many records, including being the first French hip hop recording to go platinum. Most artists claims that the French language hip hop style was influenced by Renaud Séchan songs.
Following MC Solaar’s breakthrough, two broad styles emerged within the French hip hop scene ; artists such as Solaar, Dee Nasty, and Alliance Ethnik championed a more mellow, sanguine style, while more hardcore performers such as Assassin and Suprême NTM assumed a more aggressive aesthetic. Many such artists found themselves at the heart of controversies over lyrics that were seen as glorifying the murder of police officers and other crimes , similar to outcries over violent thuggish lyrics in American gangsta rap. The cases include the notorious following : -NTM’s « Police » -Sniper’s « La France » -Lunatik’s « Le crime paie »
Through the nineties, the music grew to become one of the most popular genres in France ; in 1997, IAM’s release « L’école du Micro d’Argent » sold more than 1 million discs, with NTM shifting more than 700,000 copies of their final album « Supreme NTM ». The group went their separate ways in 2000.
In the 2000s, similar to developments in the USA, a gap has begun to emerge in French hip hop between artists seen as having sold out, belonging to the mainstream, and more credible, innovative independent artists. La Rumeur and Sheryo, some hardcore rappers are known for their reject of mainstream french rap