3 French Rappers You Need To Know
Yes, they rap in French and I understand very little of what they actually say, but who knows what Young Thug is saying half of the time? Besides, there is something about the French language and rap that runs so smoothly, with it's expressive and pronounced stylistics. Josman has a catalogue of music featuring four albums - from his 2015 Eshecs Positifs, to his most recent self-titled J.O.$ (2018). After spending several years sharpening and expanding his sound in the Parisian suburbs, he has arrived as one of the most promising talents in the French rap scene.
What stands out most about the French rapper are his accompanying visuals, a lot of which document the daily life in the Parisian suburbs. His videos have a social and artistic awareness beyond that of the mainstream. For instance, his video for L'Occassion (2018) with its monochromatic impact is clearly influenced by French cult film La Haine (1995), and also references A$AP Rocky's LSD (2015). It is hard to place Josman with similar artists from the U.S. or UK, and it is this which is his appeal – someone that seems distinctly Parisian in his image and sound.
Watch the video for L'Occassion (2018) here.
Zola, as he prefers to be called, seems something of a star in the French Rap scene. At just 19 years of age his video’s on YouTube rack up millions of views each, perhaps aided by his recognisable image, with bright blonde dreads that slightly hide his face. He is currently signed to French label ‘Truth Records’ founded by his cousin, and producer Nosky. Rather than Josman who creates great songs, Zola creates hits that circulate nationally among young French rap fans. He has recently released his first album Cicatrices (2019), which followed numerous hit singles including Belles Femmes (2018), Honey (2018) and California Girl (2018) among others.
Watch the video for Belles Femmes (2018) below.
By far the biggest of all three artists is PNL, the rap group formed by two brothers Tarik and Nabil Andrieu, known as Ademo and N.O.S. They are something of the French Drake, succeeding the 100 million views mark on their music videos numerous times. They are held by many as the ‘Kings of French rap’ and thus, it comes as no surprise that Virgil Abloh hosted them at the after party of the FW19 Off-White show in Paris. Their video for the leading single Au DD (2019) off their recent album Deux Frères (2019) features them standing atop the Eiffel Tower – a fitting self-proclamation of their place within French musical culture.
Watch the video for Au DD here.