Sinik is another French rapper I’ve been enjoying lately. He has been around since 1996, when he formed the group Amalgame with three of his friends. The collective evolved and became the Ul’Team Atom. After several mixtapes he released his first EP, Malsain, on the 3.5.7. label in 2000. In 2001, he met Karim et Nabil with whom he established the label Six o Nine. His meeting with Diam’s was a decisive turning point in his career. The two rappers have toured frequently together and have a more than professional relationship, considering themselves “brother & sister”.
January 1st 2005 saw the release of “La Main Sur le Coeur”, his first album with Warner Bros, which became a double gold disc. His second album, “Sang Froid”, was released on April 3rd 2006. It is also a double gold CD. Sinik also performs under other names: Malsain, L’assassin, and S.I.N.I.K. One of my favourite albums of his is Le Cote Malsain, released as L’assassin. It has the sound I’ve fallen in love with in French hip-hop though I can’t quite describe what that sound is! It’s definitely in the beats and instrumentation. This album definitely has some amazing piano parts, and choir/symphonic epicness that is pretty awesome. In fact I think this two-CD album has become one of my absolute favourite French hip-hop albums!
Check out his website: Sinik. Apparently a new album is coming out May 21st! I can’t wait!
Fonky Family are a French hip-hop group from Marseilles. The group consists of four rappers: Le Rat Luciano, Menzo, Don Choa and Sat; producer Pone, DJ Djel; dancer Blaze; singer Karima; and manager Faf Larage. Fonky Family made their first appearance on the French hip hop scene in 1994, after IAM had paved the way for new hip hop artists originating from Marseille. Their first album, Si Dieu Veut, came out in 1997 and soon received a gold album. Karima left the group before the release of the album. After numerous collaborations with different members of IAM on their solo albums, the group released an extended play (EP) record with six live and edited titles, titled Hors série volume 1, in spring 1999. Hors série volume 2 was released in 2000.
The group’s second album, Art de rue, came out in 2001. After that, many members of the group chose to pursue solo careers: Le Rat Luciano had already released a solo album in 2000, and Sat and Don Choa followed in 2001 and 2002 respectively. DJ Djel produced two compilations in 2001 and 2003. In January 2006, Fonky Family released their third album Marginale Musique (Jive/Sony BMG), which debuted on the French charts straight at number one.
This is another group I haven’t been able to find a ton of info on but I have definitely been enjoying their albums. I think that their latest album, Marginale Musique, has been my favourite. I really liked the music on that album. The sound was also a little more polished. But I’ve enjoyed the other albums immensely as well.
Check out their site: Fonky Family
La Fouine is a French rapper I stumbled upon in my recent quest for expanding my French hip-hop collection. He released his first album, Bourré au son, in 2005. His second album, Aller-Retour, was released in 2007. I haven’t been able to get a hold of the first, but I do have Aller-Retour, and it is a great album. One of my favourite tracks on the album, “Tombé Pour Elle” features Amel Bent, who is my absolute favourite French artist! =) La Fouine also released Mes Repères in 2009 and his newest album, La Fouine vs. Laouni, in 2011. This latest album was inspired by his dual personalities: the first one La Fouine, character he created for “entertaining people; La Fouine is very cunning, materialistic, bad boy and so vulgar … it’s not really me”. The second one Laouni (his real name) is about things he lived in his youth; here his rap is sincere and moving. The week of album’s release, more than 25,621 copies were sold in France, A major feat for a hip hop artist. He has also his own label “Banlieue Sale Music” and his own clothing line called “Street Swagg”.
Between albums, La Fouine has released 5 mixtapes, which I think are my favourites. I have listened to both volumes of Capitale du Crime which were released after Aller-Retour and La Fouine vs. Laouni respectively. The mixtapes have some absolutely amazing collaborations with other great artists, and the styles are so wonderfully varied. It’s a true smörgåsbord for the ears! I wish I knew more about him but check out his music and watch some of his videos! (He actually has a ton!)
And of course check out his website: La Fouine
Sometimes I am bewildered by how magical music is. After I found Keny Arkana, I decided I should try to find some more French hip-hop, and have I struck gold. Hocus Pocus is a French hip-hop/jazz/soul /funk band from Nates. That’s right, a hip-hop-jazz band. Could this be real? The group was formed in 1995 and had some attention throughout the 90s, but really became popular in 2006 for their LP 73 Touches. They have had 5 albums to date, and I have gotten my hands only two so far but I will hunt for the rest!
Obviously the music is just wonderful. The group’s music has been described as a mix of all hip-hop true elements with live instrumentation influenced by jazz, soul & funk music. The merging of these styles is an incredible blend, it is smooth, it is funky, and it is real. So far I have only listened to their latest album, 16 Pièces, but as a whole it is a truly spectacular work. I don’t even know what to say, as I listen it just gets better…so listen!!!!
I was on a blog which had a bunch of French music videos recently taking in any new sounds I could find. One thing that drives me crazy is many of the videos could not be viewed because copyright laws prevent them from being viewed in the U.S. This offends me greatly. I think it is a crime to keep music and culture from anyone. Why can’t I view a French music video? The fact that I live in North America and not the European Continent means what exactly? The only thing which upsets me more than this censorship is the actual inability to get so much of the music I love here in the states. Sure I can go to amazon.fr and pay Euros (curse our week American dollars!) and an arm and a leg for shipping… c’est la vie.
Anyway, while browsing what videos I could, I came upon Keny Arkana. Truth be told her videos were blocked also, but a female French rapper? Nothing would stand in my way! I have been able to find next to nothing about her. Wikipedia provided the only info I have stumbled upon so far (being to lazy to read French right now): Arkana began rapping in 1996, with her first texts at the age of 12. She formed the collectives Mars Patrie and later Etat-Major, gaining performance experience in the Marseilles underground scene, culminating in the 2003 release of Etat Major’s first mixtape. After several solo appearances on various projects, Arkana released her first EP Le missile est lancé (The rocket is launched) in 2004. Her first album Entre ciment et belle étoile (Between concrete and stars) was released in October 2006. Her first single, La rage, released in 2006, pointedly references the 2005 civil unrest in France.
Keny Arkana also launched a series of local social fora through the association Appel aux sans voix (Call to the voiceless). “L’Esquisse 2” is her latest album, released in May 2011. I have only managed to get my hands on 2005’s Lesquisse, but I am in heaven. You know I am a lover of the Polski hip-hop but the flow of the French language is an equal contender in my heart. Her delivery is impeccable and the beats and amazing instrumentation on the album completely draw me in. I think European hip-hop is musically far more sophisticated than our American brand.
Si tu peux liser le francais, son site: Keny Arkana
Her single “La Rage” was the first track I heard of hers, but it is on her second album, Entre ciment et belle étoile, which hopefully I can find soon!
Just a month or two ago in my Facebook news feed I noticed Amel Bent posts. My French is not terribly great yet but as more and more of her posts began to fill my homepage I realized she was releasing a new album and I was so excited! After anxiously awaiting I finally got my hands on her newest album, Délit Mineur, which was released Monday, November 28th in France.
The first single off the album (released earlier in November I believe), “Je Reste” was awesome and made it all the more difficult to wait! “Les Chanson Triste” is another song of the album I really loved! =) It had an great energy and amazing piano action! Actually as I listened to the album I loved every song more and more! “Tu Fermes Les Yeux” is another favourite of mine off the album! I can definitely see me rocking out to this one over and over! Amel remains my number 1 French R&B artist! Make sure you get your hands on this album!!!
Émilie Simon is a trip-hop/electronic artist from France. I first ran into her single “Fleur de Saison” from her second album Végétal and immediately loved her! Her self titled debut album was released in 2004 and went on to be a big success. Simon toured and appeared on TV shows all over France promoting the album. Simon wanted to orient her second album towards a more wintry or polar setting, and she proceeded to record sounds which relate to coldness such as the sounds of smashing ice and footsteps in the snow. Coincidentally, in the midst of her search for sounds for the album, she was contacted by producer Luc Jacquet to compose the original soundtrack for his documentary film La Marche de l’empereur (March of the Penguins in English), concerning the migration of emperor penguins during their annual migration (which I loved! Morgan Freeman is the best narrator!)
The album of hers I am most familiar with is Végétal, released in 2006. The album definitely has more rock elements but is still heavily electronic. “Fleur de Saison” and “Opium” are definitely my favourite tracks on it. The first is an energetic song which is absolutely one of my all time favourite French singles, and “Opium” is incredibly haunting. I believe she uses prepared piano for the track which is pretty badass.
She seems to have a thing for flowers, as in most of her videos she is surrounded by/part of a flower and many of her lyrics (particularly on Végétal) relate to flowers. AND her compilation is called The Flower Book. Check out her site: Emilie Simon
One thing that happens from time to time when I have so much music is that I forget about artists who are great. But I do love the feeling of rediscovering something wonderful! This happened to me today when I was browsing my music and played Zaho. Zaho is an Algerian R&B singer who lives in Quebec. With my love of French R&B you can imagine how exciting it is to find something new (even if I already had it!!) Her only album so far, Dima was released in 2008. It peaked #20 on the French charts, and it had 5 singles.”C’est Chelou” was the second single from her debut album:
“La Roue Tourne” was the third single from the album and features Tunisiano
Zaho has also been featured in many French songs, including the French version of Sean Paul’s “Hold My Hand”. The album has some great tracks, and just reinforces my love of French R&B. She has a great voice and I just love her songs! You should definitely youtube more of her videos! “Hey Papi!” is the first single from Dima:
Zaho‘s website =)
Najoua Belyzel is a French pop rock/electronic singer. I remember I found her song “Comme Toi” a while back and absolutely had to have it! I couldn’t find the song anywhere on the Internet so it was the first CD I had to import! She has had two CDs to date: Entre deux mondes (2006 – which is the one I bought), and Au féminin. Entre deux mondes peaked at #7 on the French charts. Her biggest single has been “Gabriel” (also from Entre deux mondes) which peaked #3 on the French charts and #1 in Quebec and Belgium.
I wish I knew more about her but you can check out her website: Najoua Belyzel (en Francais). I haven’t been able to get a hold of her second album yet, but j’adore Entre deux mondes! The music is just fun and you know I love some fun dancy electronica! I think her voice is perfect for the style she is going for =) Another great French pop artist!
Kenza Farah is another great French R&B artist. She has released three albums, but I only have her second, Avec Le Coeur. It is a 2 CD set released in 2008 and went platinum. There was a big media incident when Kenza was in a car accident while leaving the studio one night, she was even erroneously declared dead. When she was seen shortly after completely unscathed, people thought that it was a big publicity stunt for her new album, but Kenza said she was in fact in an accident but that it was no big deal and the media had just gone crazy with it.
Kenza is another one of my favourite French artists – I love French R&B so much! The double album is so awesome! The beats are great and I love her vocals! I really love the flow of the French language in their music, and I find it particularly amazing in their R&B. I was listening to the album for the first time, and when the track “Kenza Sur la Beat” came on, I found myself recognizing the song but I couldn’t figure out why; then I realized it was the chorus to the Fugee’s “Fugee-la”! Which instantly made me love Kenza even more.
Kenza‘s Website (en Francais)