Sunday, December 28, 2008

25 Years of French Hip-hop

A Short History of French Hip-hop, with one track by year. I couldn't mention all good rap crew. If you like the tracklist, check also La Cliqua, ATK, L'Armée 12, Kerry James, Svinkels, Les Gourmets, Akhenaton, Les Sages Poètes de La Rue, Busta Flex, Hocus Pocus, Fonky Family, La Rumeur...

The Root
French Hip-hop didn't exist yet, but we could find some seeds, in the USA, with Beside singing in French on an American tune, and the Great Gainsbourg sampling a hip-hop chorus.

1983 Fab Five Freddy feat. B-side - Change The Beat
1987 Serge Gainsbourg - Your Under Arrest

The Youth

MC Solaar, NTM, Assassin and IAM are the founding fathers of French rap. They created a real French sound, inspired by, but different from the American model.

1990 MC Solaar- Bouge De Là
1991 NTM - Le Monde de Demain
1992 Assassin - L'Ecologie: Sauvons La Planète
1993 IAM - Le Shit Squad
1994 MC Solaar - Nouveau Western

The Golden Age

French Hip-hop was now matured and the best LPs were released those years. I put two great songs with prestigious American featuring.

1995 NTM - Affirmative Action feat. Nas and the Firm
1996 Doc Gyneco - Ma Salope A Moi
1997 Afro Jazz - Striclty Hip-hop feat. Old Dirty Bastard
1998 Idéal J - Un Nuage De Fumée
1999 Saian Supa Crew - Angela
2000 Lunatic - Pas Le Temps Pour Les Regrets

The Renewal

While some artists became huge stars, some became commercial or redundant, others tried new ways, incorporating electronic music, Arabic music, chanson, ragga, or jazz... and rap about new topics.

2001 Oxmo Puccino - Le Laid
2002 113 - Les Bronzés
2003 Klub des Loosers - Baise Les Gens
2004 TTC- Dans Le Club
2005 La Caution - Thé A La Menthe
2006 Oxmo Puccino - Perdre Ou Gagner
2007 James Delleck - Gérard de Roubaix
2008 Sefyu -Mon Public

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Best of 2008: the Sweetest French Kisses

Everything worth listening released in France this year that reached my ears.

Some songs were not available on deezer so I put them on special posts (Ez3kiel, Orchestre National de Barbès, Caravan Palace). What else? Alain Bashung, Mathieu Boogaerts, Arthur H, William Sheller, Spleen, Rockin' Squat, François Breut, Anaïs, Bumcello, Charly Greane, Tahiti 80, Manu Chao, Noir désir, Mr Oizo, Thomas Fersen, Christophe, Psykick Lyrikah, Jocari, Stereolab, Kid Loco, Syd Matters, Justice, François Virot, Sebastien Tellier, Booba.

Ez3kiel in the battlefield

One of the most interesting band of the 2000s. They released their 6th album in 2008, Battlefield.

"A Piece of Africa mislaid close to the Sacré Coeur"

L'Orchestre National de Barbès (National Concert Band of Barbès) gives an electric blend of rock and musics of Maghreb (chaâbi, raï..). Why Barbès? Because it's the most mixed district of Paris, with a strong Arabic and African community.

Orchestre National de Barbès - Alik

If Django was alive in 2008

He could sound like Caravan Palace, a very good mix between electronic music and Gypsy jazz. They released their first album in october 2008.

Links: Myspace

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Love You

Matthieu Boogaerts is saying so in his 7th album released last month. One of the most singular and interesting album released in 2008.

Listen to the whole album on
His Official website site

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Brassens, an umbrella and a Gorilla

A gem of a song, 50 years before Rihanna. Notice the repetition of the sound [i] which suggests the sound of the rain, and the slow down during the Chorus, like time has stopped under the umbrella.

Georges Brassens - Le Parapluie

One of the most famous song of Brassens, a funny tale against death penalty. The song is one of his most controversial and was banned of French radio for years.

Georges Brassens - Le Gorille (uploaded by Lightening494).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Kitch is everywhere

Mayde, Mayde, 80's are back. Sometimes, it would be better not to dig up cheesy French hits.

France Gall - Ella Elle l'a written by Michel Berger, 1987. Ella, She has it, is about Ella Fitzgerald.

Kate Ryan - Ella Elle L'a 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

Winter in Paris and Autumn Leaves

As the last leaves have fallen to the ground in Paris, a little selection of nice covers (among many others) of the standard Autumn Leaves, by Yves Montand, Edith Piaf, Miles Davis, Nate King Cole and Roger Williams. The song was written in 1945 with music by Joseph Kosma and lyrics by the poet Jacques Prévert.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

French Hip-hop may be bigger than you thought

Known abroad for the "Laser dance song" on Ocean Twelve, La Caution is a mainstay of the "French rap new wave" of the 00's (alongside with TTC, L'Armée des 12, Klub des Loosers, James Deleck) which melt electronic music with rap.

They released many good tracks, but I want to introduce you the vocal version of their hit Thé à la Menthe. The amazing beat has a really nice Arab flavor. The lyrics are about a very typical theme in French rap: immigration. Indeed, French rappers, contrary to American ones, are very often sons of immigrates, mostly from North and West Africa. The two rappers of La Caution, Hi-Tekk et Nikkfurie are of Moroccandescents.

For the subtitles, I used this good translation (I've just corrected some little mistakes but I think there are some left). Slang and wordplay are very difficult to translate, especially when they are melt with some arabic words. (actually many French words comes from Arabic). In the song, there are the words"srab" which means "friend", and "Salamalek" which means "Peace on you" and is used to say hello. Last thing, when they say "Albatross of Baudelaire", they refer to the famous poem of Baudelaire that many students have to learn in school.

La Caution - Thé à la menthe (from Peine de Maures, 2005)

Links: Myspace, Wikipedia, Peines de Maures on streaming

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just Try A Little Harder (To Discover French Music)

In this mix, as usual, chanson, rap and rock. But there are also a disco song, a musical with Starmania, a zouk song from Guadeloupe and a celtic song from Brittany. A special treat, the famous reggae version of the French anthem, La Marseillaise by the only one Serge Gainsbourg.

Cover: Jacques Brel

1. Charles Aznavour – La Bohème (1965)
2. Hector Zazou – Visur Vatnsenda-Rosu (Ft. Bjork) (Chansons des Mers Froides, 1994)
3. Idéal J – Hardcore (Le combat continue, 1998)
4. Kassav – Siwo (1986)
5. Louis Chédid – Anne Ma Soeur Anne (Anne ma sœur Anne, 1985)
6. Maxime Le Forestier – San Francisco (Mon frère, 1972)
7. Métal Urbain – Panik (1977)
8. Michel Legrand – Chanson Des Jumelles (Les demoiselles de Rochefort OST, Germain and Claude Parent singing, 1967)
10. Serge Gainsbourg – Aux Armes Et Caetera (Aux armes et cætera, cover of La Marseillaise, Rouget de Lisle 1792 / 1979)
11. Starmania – Quand On Arrive En Ville (Michel Berger, with Daniel Balavoine and Nanette Workman, 1978)
12. Thomas Fersen – Borborygmes (Pièce montée des grands jours , 2003)
13. Tri Yann – Les Prisons de Nantes (trad., Tri Yann an Naoned, 1972)
14. Jacques Dutronc – L’Opportuniste (L’opportuniste, 1969)
15. Pigalle – Dans La Salle Du Bar-tabac (Regards affligés sur la morne et pitoyable existence de Benjamin Trembley, personnage falot mais ô combien attachant, 1990)
16. Georges Brassens - Je me suis fait tout petit (1956)
17. Claude Nougaro – Toulouse (1967)
18. Charles Trenet - Vous Oubliez Votre Cheval (1938)
19. Brigitte Fontaine & Areski Belkacem - Je Suis Venu Te Voir (Vous et nous, 1977)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sweet Candies of the Past

Renaud - Mistral Gagnant (1985)

This the most famous song of Renaud (the tenderhearted rebel of French music) about himself telling his childhood to his daughter. The title of the song refers to a candy popular in the 70s, which could be "winning" (you got a new one for free). The rapper Booba sampled the song on his hit Pitbull.

The translation was requested in the comments of the blog, so don't hesitate to ask. I would do it (if I like the song) and it gives me ideas for upcoming post.

Lyrics of Mistral Gagnant

To seat on a bench for 5 minutes with you
Looking at the people as long as there are some
To tell you the good times which are dead or will be
Shaking in my hand your lil’ fingers
Then to feed silly pigeons
And to kick them for fake
And hear your laugh which cracks the wall
And can cure my injuries
To tell you a little how I was when I was a kid
The wonderful candies we used to rob at the shopkeeper
Car-en-sac and Minto, one franc fudge
And the winning mistral

To walk under the rain, for 5 minutes with you
And looking at the life as long as there's still some
To tell you the Earth, while eating you with my eyes
To tell you a little about your mom
And jump in the puddles to make her moans
To smash up our shoes and laugh
And to hear your laugh like some hears the sea
To stop and go back backward
Most of all, to tell you, the old carambars and the coco bohèmes
And the real roudoudous which cut our lips
And ruined our teeths
And the winning mistrals

To seat on a bench for 5 minutes with you
And looking at the sun fading away
To tell you about the good old days which are dead and I don’t care
To tell you that the bad guys are not us
That if I am nuts, it’s only of your eyes
Which have the advantage to be two
And to hear your laugh, flying off as high
As the calls of the birds fly off
To tell you at last that you’ve got to love life
And love it even Time is a murderer
And to take with it the laughs of children
And the winning mistrals
And the winning mistrals

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The French Gift Of Jay-Z To Obama

The first time a sample story is broadcast on usual French medias! They are proud of the sample of Veronique Sanson on the latest track of Jay-Z (produced by Kanye West). Unfortunately, Sanson's cheesy and Jay-z's one is disappointing.

Jay-Z - History (2008)

Veronique Sanson (with Marc Lavoine)- Une nuit sur ton épaule (1995)

Source: Cansei de ser me

Friday, November 7, 2008

Everybody's Looking for Some Samples

I'll never be bored of looking for samples. Two other samples of French music by American producers, found on the great sampleur-samplé blog.

Jacques Brel, a master of French music, sampled but the very good crew Onyx on one of their best single. The first 10 seconds of the sampled song, Vieillir, really sound like hip-hop.

Jacques Brel - Vieillir (1977)

Onyx - Shut'Em Down (1998)

Johnny Hallyday is the top seller in France of all time with 60 millions records sold! (the Beatles only sold 18 milions). FT is an underground crew from New York. Not that strange if you know that FT is produced by Get Large... who is French!

Johnny Hallyday / Le Ghetto (1976)

F.T. / The World Iz A Ghetto (2005)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Chicken # 728120, I love you

A crazy singer Philippe Katerine, with a very very special humor. I hope you dont like chicken the way he does.

Poulet n°728120 (Chicken #728120)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Who's paying?

Gurejele is the most famous band of Kaneka, a blend of traditional kanak (native people) music, blues and reggae. They are from New Caledonia, an oversea French territory located in the southwest Pacific. The band is led by Dick Buama and has released four LPs.

I've uploaded their biggest hit, Who's Paying ? released in 2001. I have translated the lyrics which have an interesting political meaning.
Gujerele - C'est Qui Qui Paye?

Lyrics of C'est Qui Qui Paye -Who's Paying

Our politicians are going to Paris
To plan with the Motherland
The agreements for the wealth of the country
Agreements to agreements, and it's not over

Who's paying, paying?
It's France which is paying
Who's paying, paying?
It's France which is Paying
And yes, that's also this

If you're broke, you just have to ask
One condition, you've got to join
In the party, we are supported financially
Dogs can bark, we are legalized


We are not enthusiast anymore
Of political meetings
Here, under the tropics, we prefer music
The one of Jamaica, the on of States of America
In civil service, they just work for dough


All the subsidies of all political parties
It's France which is paying
Consumption of all political refugees
It's France which is paying
The salary of the civil servants working for dough
It's France which is paying
Ecologist bombed in the Kiwi country*
It's France which is paying


(*refer to the sinking of the Greenpeace's boat in New Zealand by the French foreign intelligence services, who killed one man)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Music is so sample

Two new samples of French music used by open-minded American DJs.

Bruno Coulais - Vois sur ton Chemin (OST The Chorus, 2004). Listen to the piano!

The LP has been the best seller in France in 2004, which is unique for a soundtrack. The song Vois Sur Ton Chemin was nominated for the Best Original Song Oscar

Christina Aguilera - Oh Mother (Back To Basics, 2006)

Charles Aznavour - A Ma Fille (1964)

The Firm - Firm Fiasco (1997).

The song is produced by Dr. Dre who has already used an Aznavour's sample on What's The Difference.

Sources : The video sampleur-samplé part 3 and the French blog sampleur samplé

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Some Covers Of Jacques Brel

Le Moribond, not among the French Hits of Brel, became an international hit with the cover of Terry Jacks, Seasons in The Sun. His interpretation is naive and disappointing. Brel was more bitter and ironic. For example, he sang:
"But I leave for the flowers peace in my soul, seeing that you were her lover, I know you will take care of my wife"

Terry Jacks - Seasons In The Sun

One of the best known song of Brel, Ne Me Quittes Pas. Sung by the great Nina Simone in French, there are also many covered of an English interpretation (If You Go Away) by the biggest stars, like Frank Sinatra, Dusty Springfield, Ray Charles, David Bowie, Sting, Scott Walker, Julio Iglesias and Tery Jack again.

Scott Walker is the one who covered the most Jacques Brel's songs, and he did it brilliantly: Jackie, Next, The Girls and the Dogs, Mathilde, My Death, Amsterdam, Sons Of, Funeral Tango and If You Go Away.

Scott Walker - Amsterdam

Horse Teeth & Angel's Voice

Jacques Brel is one the top Master of French Chanson, and he is... Belgian! Indeed, Belgium is half French-speaking (in Wallonia and Brussels) and half Flemish-speaking (in Flanders).

Brel is highly regarded for his lyrics, romantic but often also ironic and bitter. He wrote beautiful, compassionate, and even funny portraits about all kind of people, prostitutes, alcoholics, but also middle classes and old people. His singing is also special: intense, dark, close to a melodramatic acting.

There are many videos of him with English subtitles, thanks to Lightning49!

Au Suivant (Next)

Ne Me Quitte Pas (Don't Go Away From Me)

Les Vieux (The Old People)

Links: wikipedia, many videos of him with English subtitles

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Most Selling French Rapper

Provoking, arrogant, controversial, caricatural... the MC Booba is criticized in the same time for being both too aggressive, too commercial and too bling-bling. He's not anymore the underground icon he used to be, but has kept his unique flow and he's still hailed as one of the greatest French MC, especially for his first albums Mauvais Oeil, Temps Mort and Panthéon.

To compare him with American rappers, it would be like tupac.

One of his first song (1997), a very dark song of the time he was in the underground crew Lunatic: Le Crime Paie /  Crime pays

Garde la Pêche.

Pitbull. A more sensitive song with a sample of the Renaud's song Mistral Gagnant.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Magnetic singer

Nosfell may be the best voice of today's French music. He can do everything with his voice : ethereal high-pitched like Jeff Buckley or Bjork, heart breaking folk-blues like Ben Harper, but also human beatboxing, and even sometimes avant-garde like Meredith Monk and west-african music... all in the same song!

He has a very personnal and mysterious universe, between Tim Burton and Brothers Grimm's :children's fears and dreams, violence and beauty of fairy tales told in captivating and experimental songs. Nosfell sings in French and English but mostly in Klokobetz, a language he created.

Nosfell with his bass player playing Sladinji the grinning tree

Nosfell alone playing a few songs

Links: myspace, official website

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

France dancing on Ivory Coast's beats

Some of the biggest hits in France last years were coming from its ex-colony, Ivory Coast. An important community from Ivory Coast is living in France and those bands are singing in French so the spread of their music in France has been easy. There have also been some collaborations between artists from both countries, with for example featuring of 113, Jerry James, remixes of Bob Sinclair...

Magic System - 1er Gaou (1999). It's zouglou music.

The coupé-décalé, a new kind of music and dance created in 2003, during the Ivorian Civil War in the African clubs of Paris. Coupé means drunk, décalé means gone

Douk Saga - Sagacité - Decalé Coupé

An other nice coupé-décalé hit

The hit of summer 2008, Zouglou dance by Magic System

There are also some very popular Ivory Coast's reggae singers, especially Tiken Jah Fakoly and Alpha Blondy but there is enough to say for their own post.

Links: coupé-décalé on wikipedia, myspace of magic system