At the moment, France is, next to the USA, the hiphop nation in the world. After rap came from the USA to France, French rappers have developed an individual style very rapidly. The French rap scene developed in the 80 ties in the banlieues (suburbs) of the large cities, where rap, graffiti and breakdancing became rapidly popular amongst the boys of the streets. The beginning of a professional rapscene followed 4 years later. In 1984 national television gave a lot of exposure to rap and hiphop-related subjects. This resulted in increased attention for rap music and a growing audience. Many young men started to practice with finding their own flow. This was very beneficial for the quality of the French rap music. Big names like Dee Nasty, Richy and Lionel D start to rise, heavily influenced by the American rap scene. Rappers who rapped about social discrimination and injustice became extremely popular among young people in the disadvantaged neighbourhoods . Subjects such as racism, unemployment and violence were addressed. This is very comparable to the rap scene in the United States.
In the nineties the French rap game started to develop its own style. This style is called hardcore rap. It can be recognized by a louder sound, rough lyrics and heavy beats. This hardcore rap was typically not played by the radio stations. Despite this disadvantage, the rappers became popular after all because of the large number of young people from the banlieues who supported the rappers.
Around the year 2000 the rap started to change into a more melodical commercial sound. Rappers such as Booba and Rhoff started to cooperate with rappers from the United States, for example with The Game and Akon. From this time, the French rap game became popular with the larger public. But after some time, criticism increased from within the rap scene. Rappers were accused of adapting too much to the American mainstream commercial rap and of loosing their own style. The French rappers were mainly from African origin and used to mix their African influences with the European sound which gave them a very recognizable style.
At this moment, the French rap game is very diverse. This diversity originates from the multicultural situation in France. It has benefitted the quality of the French rap music a lot. For example, there are rappers with Algerian roots like Lacrim. His style of rapping is very aggressive and angry with high speed instrumentals and usually a sung chorus. In contrast, SCH is a French rapper who plays with his voice and with the use of autotune. In his voice sadness and anger can be heard. Also, his video clips stand out and are special: in the track A7, his clothing’s on fire and snakes crawl over his neck. As a completely different example, the well known MHD has a lot of African influences in his music, while Kaaris is a French trapper whose parents are born in Ivory Coast. His music is characterized by his dark video clips and his typical trap sound.
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