Hip-Hop is undeniably an American art form, but France is gunning for the top spot in the genre. Listen to these five bangers and see for yourself.
SCH – Champs Élysées
SCH sounds kinda like Travis Scott and Post Malone combined into one French-speaking artist. He was relatively unknown in France until last year, when he released his A7 mixtape, which quickly acquired a gold plaque. This mellow banger is one of the highlights on the tape. Champs Élysées is a symbol of triumph in France, and SCH celebrates it on this track, as well as his own rise from rags to riches. He raps “Féfé sur le Champs, pas loué”, which means “Rari on Champs [Élysées], and it’s not rented.”
Niska – Freestyle PSG ft. Rako, Brigi, Trafiquinté, Madrane
Not much can easily be found on Niska or any other rappers who appear on this fiery outburst of aggression. However, after checking out their other music, it seems that Niska and his colleagues occupy the same lane in France, as Chiraq drill music in the US. If you are a fan of old Chief Keef and Waka Flocka Flame, you will find this quite enjoyable, even if you don’t understand it.
MHD – Afro Trap 3 (Champions League)
Hailing from the 19th Arrondissement of Paris, the young rapper MHD (acronym comes from his name Mohammed) quickly rose to prominence after a series of freestyles that he called Afro Trap gained significant popularity. His “Afro Trap” series merges the sound of popular African music and rhythms with emceeing. Part 3 of Afro Trap titled, “Champions League” pays homage to soccer. Even though for the average hip-hop enthusiast, not much of the vocals can be understood, it doesn’t matter as MHD sounds hard as f*ck over this African-inspired instrumental and the video is also quite worth watching. *adds to party music playlist*
PNL – Le Monde du Rien
The duo PNL appeared from the slums of a Parisian banlieue (French “ghetto”) and skyrocketed to fame with this atmospheric track. “Le monde ou ruen” means “The World of Nothing” and it speaks of struggles that young people in France face today. 25% of youth in France is unemployed, and that number climbs to 50% in areas where immigrants reside. The mysterious duo (famous for not giving interviews) rose from the world of unemployment, drama, crime and drugs. They deliver important messages, aided by generous amounts of Auto-Tune, at the time when such messages are very much needed.
Maitre Gims – J’me tire
Maitre Gims is like the French equivalent of Chris Brown/R.Kelly/Ja Rule. The Congo-born rapper/singer first became famous as a member of the popular rap group Sexion D’Assaut, but also embarked on a very successful solo career. His soulful 2013 single “J’me tire” (“I withdraw myself”) can be heard blaring from plenty of speakers in France, and the 130 million views on YouTube can attest to that. Even if you don’t know French, the hook of the song is so catchy you won’t feel the need to understand it to joyfully dance to it. However, the song itself is very serious – it discusses the hardships that artists and musicians face in their lives.