• Sophia Hill

A Tour de French Drill

UK drill has been fairly well documented by now. For many people it seems that France has been in the shadows of the UK and US music scene. However, since drill pulled up onto the global music stage and surged in popularity, the french have inevitably caught on. And some of it really is worth a listen.

You may have already been exposed to the French language on drill beats thanks to UK artists such as AM, whose Behind Barz session with Skengdo featured bars in French, and more recently French the Kid’s hook on ‘Broke Toys’. In recent years French artists are gradually beginning to appear on charts internationally, examples include Niska, Maes, Booba and more.

Having spent part of my time this summer exploring the drill scene in France a few names stood out in particular - Ashe 22, 1Pliké140, Gazo, Negrito, CZ8, Chivas Gang, and Ziak to name a few. These drillers are making their presence known in France, primarily as a result of their fearless approach to drill – 1Pliké140’s ‘CRUEL & LA VIE’ (prod. by Sam Tiba, Francois X Binks Beats & NS) is a good example of this as the track merges an inventive drill beat together with a relaxed flow. Other french artists such as CZ8 appear to have a distinct influence from across the pond - with sounds similar to that of OFB. Many of France’s best rappers are known to live in the banlieue of Paris – often described as a difficult place to live due to nothing other than the consistent systematic failings of the government – similar to London, it is clear why drill has had such an appeal.

Ziak came onto my radar towards the end of the summer with ‘Fixette’ prod. by Focus Beats. Ziak has released seven songs over the last year, he began to get recognition with his second single Raspoutine’ (released on the 30th of January 2020) which got 2.2 million views on YouTube to date. As with many London drill artists he is always met on camera with his face hiding behind a mask, it seems that thus far little else is revealed about the artist other than what can perhaps be interpreted from his lyrics.

Premiered in October, Ziak’s single 'Fixette' kicks off with his first bar in Arabic, “3endi sem fi dem” roughly translating to English as “I have poison in my blood”. The next line continues - “Gros, j'suis loin de Gandhi, que des bandits dans le sound system” - “Bro, I’m far from Gandhi, only bandits in the sound system.” Gandhi is known for his peaceful manner, Ziak is essentially saying here that this is nowhere near what he is like.

Further on in the verse he raps “Quand j'pourrai racheter nos terres au bled, là je pourrai crever Sten” - “When I can buy back our forsaken land, there I can die happy”, 'Sten' is a slang expression, mainly used in the banlieue of Paris, which literally means 'good'. The chorus is “Zipette, zipette…” (a term usually used for cocaine) “...elle fait une fixette sur ma poudre. A6, A7, j'fais l'tour de France, j'suis ré-bou” - “she stares at my powder. A6, A7, I'm doing the Tour de France, I'm wasted”.

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