Rap is dead and Spoken Word is born

spoken word


I did not know what to write about today. So I decided to write on something I think I master quite well. Unlike the younger generation I cannot really say I was born in it. But I belong to that generation that partly contributed to its shaping. Yes, people of my age are somehow those who gave French Hip-Hop its present features and values.

I know it is funny to speak so especially when everyone knows that Hip-Hop is American and not French. However it is important to notice that unlike many other countries French Hip-Hop has a proper identity which distinguishes it from the ones of other countries.

Many French Hip-Hop artists are very well known not only in the Paris region but also in the four different corners of the Hexagon. Despite the reluctance from part of the mass media to present Hip-Hop as a genuine art and culture; what was first regarded as a simple movement has along the years transformed itself to become an authentic culture. It is possible today to see different periods and forms of expression of this culture in France.

I will never forget those days back in the early eighties when Sydney, one of the rare and only black TV presenters who appeared on the green screen on Saturday afternoons, used to put some funky atmosphere in every household. Here was a guy older than us who resembled us. He was the big brother of every single uprooted kid who happened to be looking for a new cultural identity different from the one of both their parents and the host community. The movement Sydney was presenting us at the time has now grown up into a real art and culture composed of four different disciplines that are Dance (breakdance and smurf), Graff, DJ, Rap.

If dance was the first discipline to be broadcasted on TV, easiest forms of expression such as Rap and Graffiti were to become more popular. The nineties are well known to be the decade of the apology of Rap music and Hip-Hop in France. The first generation of sons and daughters born in France from African immigrant descents were so much involved in the expansion of the hip hop culture, that they even became assimilated to it.

However for some business and personal economic reasons most French Rap singers were also progressively forced to adopt a more commercial form of their art, thus emptying it from its very first essence. Expressing one’s grieves and informing the mass on the irregularities in our system was finally replaced by a more Bling, Bling rap, too shy to contradict and denounce the system.

Unlike what was the case in the early nineties most French rap singers nowadays have a very poor knowledge and use of the language they express themselves in. Their lyrics are very often senseless and their music often sounds just like another bad copy of the American sound.

Yes, except for a few rap singers such as Kerry James, Shuriken… etc., it is possible to affirm today that good old French rap is dead. Yet, that seems far from being the death of the French Hip Hop culture. Hip Hop culture as a whole is just about to integrate a new form of expression that for the love and for the sake of this culture I ask the younger generation

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to use just and only for the advancement our community. Spoken Word Poetry better known in France under the name of Slam is from far the new discipline that could bring back sense and noble values to the street culture a whole generation had to shape in order to give itself an identity.

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