Since the 80s, French rap music has dominated the top charts, and even though Americans like to think we own the rap music category, French rap groups have created some of the most influential music of our time. Most French rap groups came from second or third generation immigrant communities in France, who found that rap and pop music was a way to express the struggles they faced daily, living in the banlieue in a society that had a history of colonial imperialism and resulting racism.
One famous example of rap music as a way of political expression is French rapper Kerry James’ 2008 song “Banlieusards” in which he raps about being proud to be from the banlieue, and the importance of fighting to beat the stereotypes associated with living in the banlieue.
French rap today still makes political and social statements, like in MZ’s song “Les Princes” from their album “La Dictature” which was released this April. In their music video, we see a side of Paris that is different from the romantic stereotypes many American tourists have of the city. Even so, the lyrics remain romantic, creating a thought-provoking dynamic:
“We want to shine like Paris at night, under her lights
I’ve hung around, I’ve dreamed, I’ve roamed and I’ve slept all day
Princes of the city.”
Watch the video: