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Rap is the greatest illustration of the confrontation within France!

Rap is the greatest illustration of the confrontation within France! Back in the early 2000s, one of the most unpopular Prime Ministers in the history of France used a more than unfortunate expression: “La France d’en bas, la France d’en haut” (The France from below, the France from above). According to him, two irreconcilable Frances exist. Raffarin was wrong, there isn’t necessarily a France from below and a France from above, but there are different Frances, and they confront each other daily in an ideological battle without mercy. Rap is the best illustration of this phenomenon.

Urban music: the most listened-to music genre since 2019!

It might seem anecdotal, but since 2019, urban music has become the most listened-to music genre in France. Rap, R’n’b, Urban Pop, and Afro Pop artists dominate the charts of streaming platforms. In 2019, for example, only singer Angèle managed to rank seventh in a streaming chart entirely composed of rappers. If urban music was once associated with “ghetto” neighborhoods and a certain bohemian France in the late 90s, today the genre has emancipated itself and belongs to everyone.

However, while in the USA, capitalism and the spectacle-driven society have embraced Hip Hop and promoted it excessively as a model of success, in France, there is still, to this day, a “distrust” towards urban music, or even a rejection, probably due to the conflicting history France has with its neighborhoods. Rap is the greatest illustration of the confrontation within France!

France’s disdain for Rap!

Everyone remembers the assertion made by Zemmour, quoted by the rappers themselves, who judged rap as “a subculture of illiterates.” In the same vein, a certain Jean Messiah declared on Cnews: “Le rap c’est des aboiements (Rap is barking).



♬ son original – Zez XXI

But its close commentators with extreme right tendencies are far from being the only illustration of this phenomenon. The Victoires de la Musique ceremony, which crowned the group 113 in the early 2000s, has always resisted embracing the urban music movement. And the rappers are not fooled. From Kery James and his “20 years of career and still no Victoires de la Musique,” to Youssoupha, who prefers the “Booska d’or” over the Victoires de la Musique, and Booba with his direct attacks, the Victoires de la Musique have a bad reputation. Rap is the greatest illustration of the confrontation within France!

Last year, SCH sounded an alarm: “I would like to salute Gazo, Oboy, Naps, Laylow, for selling out 2 Bercy venues in less than 24 hours, Jul who brought together the 2 capitals of French rap, Dinos, Soso Maness, and also Ninho, the man with obvious certifications… I am a little embarrassed to hold this victory without seeing them sitting in front of me, these great gentlemen who deserved just as much as the artists present here to celebrate their Victoires de la Musique!


SCH défend le RAP aux Victoires de la musique !

♬ son original – Zez XXI

Aya Nakamura: A Forgotten Success Story!

Aya Nakamura exploded onto the scene with the album “Nakamura,” propelled by the hit single “Djadja.” Her popularity didn’t stop at the borders of France. Holland awarded her a gold record, and even the star Maluma remixed her track. A few years later, the Afro Pop icon proudly displayed a diamond record while gracing the billboards of Times Square. From Stockholm to Amsterdam, and Paris, everyone knows Aya, and yet, the artist became a victim of “Aya Bashing” for a while. On the set of “TPMP,” a show often inclined to showcase urban music and promote rap, she was condescendingly referred to as the “Madonna of the suburbs.” Rap is the greatest illustration of the confrontation within France!

Furthermore, when called upon to perform at the NRJ Music Awards, her name was mispronounced on stage by Nikos Aliagas. It’s essential to note that the host is far from being racist, but his lack of knowledge about Aya highlights this fracture between the two Frances.


NNikos prononce mal le prénom de aya nakamura !!

♬ son original – Zez XXI

The War of Frances Will Not Happen!

How can the most listened-to music in France also be the one that triggers the most rejection and mistrust? While Rock, Punk, and even Jazz at a certain point faced a similar phenomenon, the rejection of these music genres was naturally part of the generational conflict. The older generations didn’t understand the new ones. However, this time, the rejection is simply total in a certain part of the population. It’s important to know that the population in the suburbs crystallizes the anxieties of a France in crisis. Economic crisis, identity crisis, social crisis— the suburbs have become the focal point for all the population’s fantasies. Rap is the greatest illustration of the confrontation within France!

Claiming that Rap promotes criminality? What about the rock of The Doors or the Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” which tells of an LSD trip, or the lyrics of Serge Gainsbourg? If rock has disappeared, it’s because it “lost its b*lls” (Youssoupha). Rap still disturbs, even if it pleases everyone now. And while Kool Shen is “proud to wear the jersey marked with the seal of those who disturb, Joey Star concludes that “we’re not part of the solution, but rather the problem.” Ultimately, the day rap becomes so mainstream that it even gets rewarded at the Victoires de la Musique, it will have lost its essence. Whether conscious, unconscious, pop, or drill, rap is always about protest and resistance.

C.E.O HELL SINKY, author, journalist, documentary

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