about musical experiences™ - part V

Top 10 Rap's album : a selection made by Kevin Linus



Here is the second segment brought to you Kevin as the past one, I asked him to make a quick selection of his favorite French Rap album and that is what he came up with : some classic tunes that makes the French scene look not so bad right? He knows his subjects that is for sure!

From the famously IAM to NTM & LUNATIC, you pretty much everything needed to spend a crazy good day right there! Please, make sure you tune in, either you're in the subway, walking in these dirty streets from Paris or wherever you are living, just feel that vibe!


about musical experiences™ - part VI

☞ from left to right


1.   IAM "L'école du Micro D'argent" | (click to listen)  ♬ .01 / .02

This album is one of the cornerstones of French hip-hop music. Its release was a major act for IAM as they finally found a sound to match the quality of their lyrics, as well as for French hip-hop, confirming the fact that rap has a lot of followers in the Hexagon. Like their peers from the suburbs of Paris, NTM, IAM went to New York to instigate the production of this album, seeking for the essence of the sound one can only find in the Big Apple (their previous album was also cut in N.Y.). They teamed with Prince Charles Alexander, the mixer and engineer who worked a lot for Bad Boy Records. They even got close to the Wu-Tang realm through Sunz of Man members on "La Saga." The sound has definitely changed from the previous albums: at first putting themselves in the Egyptian tradition (look at their names), they now have found the musical depth they deserve as ones of the few best lyricists of France. Definitely influenced by the Wu-Tang soundscapes, the opening track is the story of the battle between their school, from the silver mic, against the wooden mic school, in a Bushido style. Too bad that non-French speaking listeners won't get the lyrics; they cannot appreciate the quintessence of IAM's style.

 2. Suprême NTM "Suprême NTM" | (click to listen) ♬ .01 / .02

Suprême NTM is the self-titled fourth and final album from the controversial French hi-hop duo. Released in 1998, it would be the last album Suprême NTM would release before Joey Starr and Kool Shen parted ways to form their own separate labels.

3. Suprême NTM  "Paris Sous Les Bombes | (click to listen) ♬ .01 / .02 / .03

Released in 1995, the third album from one of the most influential hip-hop groups in France is literally dropping bombs on Paris, as the title says. Almost all the tracks are both aggressive and clever, even in the lyrics as they are embodied by the furious Joey Starr and the shrewd Kool Shen, and on the production level, taking French rap to a whole new level. Each track speaks to the brain and body, unveiling the everyday troubles and thoughts on city life, and triggering wrath and rage through the power of the two lyricists. Typical of the genre you might say, but a large spectrum of subjects is tackled here, with varying degrees of awareness: from the resurgence of nationalist ideas in France ("Plus Jamais Ça"), the blindness of the power structures about the youth, the problems to overcome as the Supreme NTM group evolves ("Tout N'est Pas si Facile") to the pleasure of sharing joints with buddies ("Pass Pass le Oinj"), through their love of funky music. The approach of the subjects reveals a real intelligence in writing, as well as an adjusted interpretation related to the subject: explosive most of the time and dreamy when the subject is purely reflective, only few MCs have this ability to be so versatile in styles of interpretation and still be truly themselves.

4.   Fonky Family "Si Dieu Veut..." | (click to listen) ♬ .01

After three cultishly revered albums with Organized Konfusion, underground legend Pharoahe Monchcut a solo deal with Rawkus and delivered his debut, Internal Affairs, in late 1999. Both Monch and Rawkus seemed to want to push their music farther above ground, and some longtime followers were shocked to hear a harder, angrier, more profane Monch, who seemed to be courting a more thugged-out audience. But it's a reinvention that doesn't compromise his high lyrical standards, making Internal Affairs a success on its own terms. Sounding like it was sampled from a monster-movie soundtrack, the club smash "Simon Says" sets the tone for the album; Monch delivers rapid-fire, intricately rhymed lines in between shouts of "get the f*ck up!" and "girls, rub on your titties!" It proved to be the most successful crossover bid of Monch's career, and much of the rest of Internal Affairs manages to straddle the underground/mainstream divide surprisingly well. Even when he's just giving shout-outs to Queens, or enlisting guests like Canibus and M.O.P. to help pummel a track into submission, Monch lives up to his reputation as one of hip-hop's most technically skilled MCs. Nowhere is this balancing act more evident than on "Rape," a rather disquieting extended metaphor for his mastery of hip-hop (other MCs just "ain't f*ckin' it right"). 


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5.  Ärsenik* "Quelques Gouttes Suffisent" | (click to listen) ♬ .01 

Ärsenik are a French rap duo whose first two albums were Top Ten hits in 1998 and 2002, respectively, though the group's output was otherwise sporadic. Founded in 1992 in Villiers-le-Bel, France, the group is comprised of brothers Lino (born Gaëlino M'Bani) and Calbo (a), who are of Congolese heritage. After a couple years of compilation and mixtape appearances, Ärsenik made their full-length album debut with Quelques Gouttes Suffisent...(1998) on the EMI subsidiary label Hostile Records. Considered by some fans to be the group's crowning achievement, Quelques Gouttes Suffisent...

6. Lunatic "Mauvais Oeil" | (click to listen) ♬ .01 / .02 / .03

Mauvais œil is the debut album by French hip hop duo Lunatic, released in October 2000 over the independent label 45 Scientific.

7.   Ideal J "Le Combat Continue"  | (click to listen) ♬ .01

Considered a classic French rap, the second album of Ideal J remains engraved in the memories for its provocative titles that are Hardcore or For a handful of dollars, but also and especially for its cover, a photo of a black hand, that of Kery James, holding with his fist the French flag.

8.   Rohff  "Le Code De L'honneur | (click to listen) ♬ .01

Rapper Rohff made a name for himself on the French rap scene in the late '90s, both with his hip-hop collective La Mafia K'1 Fry and his own solo work. His first album, Le Code de l'Honneur, appeared in 1999, vaunting heavy beats and a smart flow, with self-aggrandizing lyrics. Taking his cue from hardcore rappers like Mobb Deep and Tupac Shakur, Rohff's second album, La Vie Avant la Mort (2001), made him famous, after the success of his single "Qui Est l'Exemple?" in 2002. With his songs becoming increasingly confrontational and his beats heavier, Rohff's next two albums both achieved gold status. A much-trumpeted track with American counterpart the Game, "Top of the World", appeared on the 2005 compilation The Basement. The year 2007 saw him reunite with La Mafia K'1 Fry and release a versatile mixtape (Le Cauchemar du Rap Français). A hotly anticipated album, Le Code de l'Horreur, dropped the following year, and in 2010 he was back again with La Cuenta. 2013 saw him launch his own clothing line, Distinct, and release the single "Dounia" as a taster for the album P.D.R.G., due later that year. It had originally been slated as a "mixtape" release, but was upgraded to full album status.

9.   La Rumeur "L'ombre Sur La Mesure" | (click to listen) ♬ .01 

La Rumeur are a French hip-hop quartet with a strong base in the cités (or immigrant suburbs) of Paris, renowned for their politically subversive and confrontational lyrical content. Made up of MCs Ekoué, Hamé, Mourad, and Philippe (all graduates of French universities), La Rumeur identify themselves as not a French rap group, but rather a rap group for black immigrants living in France. They began recording and releasing their material independently in the late '90s. Their debut EP, Le Poison d'Avril, came out in 1997 and was sold at live shows or out of the trunks of cars. The records that followed, Le Franc Tireur (1998) and La Bavar & la Paria (1999), grew both La Rumeur's fan base and their reputation as the most violent, confrontational lyricists on the scene. Their full-length debut record, Ombre Sur la Mesure, was released in 2002, with lyrics paying homage to the immigrant experiences of their parents' generation.

10. Première Classe Vol.1 "Les sessions PC1" | (click to listen) ♬ .01 

The Première Classe label was launched in 1998 by Jacky Brown and Ben-J of the Neg'Marrons2 group alongside Pit Baccardi, Patou and Stéphane3. Regarding the label, Jacky Brown Neg'Marrons explains in his words: "We found that there were not enough mixes at the time, too few mergers [...] The idea was to create the compilation where there would be the most artists, the most beatmakers. Overall, the project was the plus, plus, plus1. "

At the launch of Première Classe, the founders publish several EPs, grouping successful songs like On do things by Mystik, Pit Baccardi, Rohff and the Neg'Marrons1, announcing the release of the first compilation of the label, entitled First class vol. 13. The compilation is initially published in France on March 18, 19994. It includes artists such as IAM, Arsenik, Marginal Sosa, Passi, and Oxmo Puccino. Will follow the eponymous album of Pit Baccardi with titles such as Si far de toi and Si j'étais.

— Albums reviews from the interweb.