AboutPeace, Love, Unity and Having fun!
The message from the pioneer Afrika Bambaataa, founder of the New York peace movement Zulu Nation, colonized the Bronx in the 1970s, going against the trend of gang violence. A new culture arose. An artistic manifesto and means of expression: Hip-Hop.
Forty-five years later, rap - its musical dimension - has taken the world by storm, becoming the most listened to music in the world. We now need to turn to Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia to find the original soul of the movement.
« Transforming negative energies into positive energies, awakening consciences. » The ambassadors of Hip-Hop from around the world have embraced the movement's original ideals: to work for a society of solidarity, equity and non-violence where people without ranks emerge from ghettos to invent a new, more open world where their voices can be heard.
Vina Hiridjee and David Boisseaux-Chical filmed for ten years, on five continents and in fifteen languages, before bringing together for "We Speak Hip Hop" the voices of twenty-eight committed artists. Their project, We Speak Hip Hop, crosses boundaries, bringing to light the differences and common values of these beat masters and virtuoso poets.
To wrap up their global tour, the directors of We Speak Hip-Hop teamed up with La Place, a unique Parisian Hip-Hop cultural center. In the heart of the French capital, they met emblematic actors of the European and US scene. Artists of the new generation, MCs and historical DJs revealed to Vina Hiridjee and David Boisseaux-Chical their relationship with the movement's memory, their doubts and hopes for the future of a vibrant culture.WE SPEAK HIP HOP !
Some journalists poke their pens deep into the wound, and so the lyricists of Casa Crew go where it hurts most. Formed in 2003, the crew are pioneers of the "green and red" hip-hop of the Shereefian flag. With their rap in Darija (an Arabic dialect), the focus of Masta Flow, Chaht Man, Jocker and Caprice is the streets of Morocco. With stabbing beats, they speak of misery, unemployment and the unspeakable evils of the Kingdom.
Dynamic Duo2006South Korea
When Choiza and Gaeko discovered rap in the early 1990s, hip-hop culture had barely infiltrated Seoul, where the reign of the all-powerful K-pop began. Ten years later, in 2004, the South Korean duo’s first album Taxi Driver broke sales records in a genre still classified as underground. In 2006, under the watchful eye of state censorship, Choiza and Gaeko became bootleggers with their own label, Amoeba Culture.
Don Bigg / Fez City Clan / Hel Lmkan / Fnaïre2006Morocco
Hip-hop has made its way to the four corners of the Cherifian kingdom, where these rappers lift the veil of what is hiding behind the scenes. Follow the rebellious sons of eternal Morocco through alleyways. If you need a guide, why not Taoufik Hazeb, aka Don Bigg, a star among the stars in the firmament of Moroccan hip-hop. From a middle class background, this Casaoui by birth dares to confront his country's untouchable police and corruption with his loaded punch lines.
Fujioka Akira, the boy from Osaka, coined his name as a tribute to black culture. It is to the US he went for hip-hop inspiration that would nourish his art. Back in Japan, after a brief stay in New York, he is now self-taught where he has become Afra, the most famous beat boxer of the archipelago and the first ever to release an album. From as far as planet Japan, and including stage performance, manga and commercials, Afra takes control with his North American and African beats. He has launched beat boxing as a true musical movement.
1980s, Seine-Saint-Denis in France. The story of two refugee kids fleeing Pol Pot’s Cambodia with their parents. Pouklaing and his brother Sok grew up trapped in the “Ghetto of 3000”, in Aulnay-sous-Bois. The hip-hop culture then germinating in the 93rd precinct, grew on them. For the two defectors, returning to their home country was a shock. Music now rebuilds the shattered links. With their passion these rappers have created KlapYaHandz Label, a collective dedicated to Cambodian ancestral culture, as well as American hip-hop.
Da Arabian MC's, or DAM, is one of the first Palestinian rap groups formed in the late 1990s. In Arabic as well as in Hebrew, the name of the crew means "blood". Mahmoud Jrere, Tamer and Suhell Nafar sing in both languages, as well as in English, about the blood their brothers have spilt. They find their inspiration in literature, poetry and traditional Arabic music as much as in American rap. Their lyrics open a breach into another world. The group evokes memories of historical conflicts, but also speaks to feminism and the scourge of drugs in their home city of Lod, not far from Tel Aviv.
Deeg J Force 32006Guinea
In Conakry, freestyle and hope flourish within the inner walls of the Guinean underground scene. Degg, in Wolof, means truth. This word sums up, for Moussa and Ablaye Mbaye, the creators of Degg J Force 3, their battle against the daily misery of a youth that has been left behind. Iconic to the Guinean urban stage, this duo has since created the label Meurs libre Prod (Die Free Productions), and performs in Europe, Canada and in West Africa to promote their humanitarian ideals.
Follow, on stage, the man who brought hip-hop to Senegal. With Tiken Jah Fakoli as background, and to the sound of the kora, chant with the crowd the lyrics of Africanist rap: "Quit the power!" Didier Awadi is the co-founder of Positive Black Soul, the group that popularized rap in West Africa in the 1990s. Partisan for a peaceful Africa, Awadi preaches hope and unity. Known for being a man of his word, the Senegalese rapper shares his microphone with major artists from the continent and beyond. Wyclef Jean, Ismaël Lo, Mary Ndiaye, Old Farka Toure and Alpha Blondy, among others, have featured with the ambassador of 100% made in Africa hip-hop.
Nikusheen On, alias D-Coy, takes onboard the values of original hip-hop: refuse to shed blood, and turn negative energies into positive. Make rap, not war! A morality that makes sense, transposed from the Bronx to the neighborhoods of Manila, where gang violence is ubiquitous. D-Coy and his Madd Poets’ underground and identity-affirming rap draws on ancestral culture and is expressed in Filipino dialect, Tagalog.
According to his official biography, Yehoshua Sofer was born in Jamaica, from where he would have drawn his ragga influences. His move to Israel followed a stay in Los Angeles, where he would have taken a liking to hip-hop culture, and trained with Chuck Norris. "Humus makes you stupid"; will that be the punch line that history will remember? In any case, it is the flagship title that in 1993 cemented the success of Sofer, aka Nigel Ha'Admor in Israel. The rapper has since abandoned his stage name to become the only teacher of a Hebrew warrior art that dates back thousands of years, and that he has now popularized - some would say invented.
Faris Shafi, son and brother of TV stars, became famous at age 24 with a wacky clip in which he impersonates an ordinary Pakistani who is miserable and stupid. Although the images are clownish, the lyrics are unequivocal. This native of Lahore attacks corruption lurking behind religious veneer, likewise societal violence, and terrorism that plague his country. Bilingual, fed on American rap since childhood, Faris chose Urdu rather than English to reach a wider audience at home. And despite the regular censorship, which prevents him from being on YouTube, he won’t let go the mike.
Rapping since the late 1990s, Bakary Blaise Beavogui, aka Masta G fully assumes his 100% political lyrics. Each and every song is a rallying call. The Guinean rejects commercially-orientated hip-hop and embraces gangsta-rap in defense of human rights. Right from his first album in 2003, Elections Bata ly (The elections are approaching), Masta G rails against the democratic vacuum in his country led by the irremovable Lansana Conte. His unrepentant lyrics earned him a stay in prison for "incitement to violence and undermining State Security".
Faso Kombat2006Burkina Faso
Malk'hom the Ivorian and David the Burkinabe met in 2000 in Ouagadougou. Their Afro hip-hop, a rap of African traditional rhythms and instruments, soon conquered the country. The Faso Kombat duo has gained a foothold in the hip-hop scene of Burkina Faso both in More (the language of the Mossi people) and in French. As the anointed spiritual sons of Thomas Sankara - the separatist leader and Third Worldist who was murdered - Malk'hom and David tell of the sorrows of a youth robbed of its future.
The Indonesian rap star greets you just before he walks on stage. He is the darling of the media! Hip-hop is his way of life, but his songs don't feature bling or big cars. His values are happiness and family.
In the late 1990s, the movement that was born in the Bronx 20 years earlier was little known in the Middle East. A pioneer of Hebrew rap, Shabak Samech brings hip-hop to a young Israeli generation. Their satirical rap merges with rock and heavy metal. It's a style that does not deny its affiliation to the Beastie Boys, Shabak Samech’s primary influence, and, later on, with Rage Against The Machine.
Do not be fooled by his shy student looks. This beat boxing virtuoso, also a graffiti artist in his spare time, is a real competitive beast. Shazet began his career at age 15 inspired by the beats of Japanese Afra spotted in a cult manga. Two years later, in 2008, he was propelled to the top of his discipline at the Melbourne championships and subsequently crowned champion of Malaysia in 2010. This early fame earned him the respect of his peers from Indonesia, via Oceania, all the way to Europe.
Epik High2009South Korea
The Epic High rappers Tablo Scientists, Mithra Jin, and DJ Tukutz started off humbly. In the early 2000s, the South Korean public snubbed hip-hop and its committed lyrics, preferring the popular K-pop. They had to wait until 2005, relentless in their quest, finally, for a taste of success. Although their least polemical titles have become hits, those dealing with more serious topics are censored. Epik High is still topping the charts. Their rise seems limitless.
With his teenage allure, XXL baggy shorts, polo shirt, gold chain, and cap screwed on his dreadlocks, Racine J looks odd in the unpaved streets of Djibouti, a garrison city on the border of East Africa. His rap is homemade on vintage turntables. His clips shot in camcorder. But his concerts electrify the crowds. At the microphone, Racine J stands firm. An ambassador of protest music, he dreams of being a role model for kids growing up in the shadow of a regime disguised as a democracy.
After they first met in high school in the early 1990s, the Senegalese NDongo D and Faada Freddy came together to form one of the most beautiful success stories of African rap. Their duo Daara J poignantly takes hip-hop back to its roots, which they believe are firmly embedded in the soil of their continent. As proud heirs of Afrika Bambaataa, both artists give shape to hybrid rap. Drawing their inspiration from the tradition of African griots, enriched by multiple influences (soul, rock, reggae and, of course, original Bronx hip-hop), their music has conquered the people of Senegal and won audiences far beyond the African stage. In all, the messages conveyed by NDongo D and Faada Freddy have not changed in 20 years. Peace, fraternity and solidarity are the founding values of their art. A philosophy of life made concrete by a lasting commitment to humanitarian causes.
As early as 1997, Prissk aimed her feminist hip-hop at a predominantly masculine culture. She was spotted on stage alongside her brother with whom she founded the group 6-stem d’alarme. Ivorian society still mutes women so Prissk grabs the mike to denounce excision, forced marriages and violence against women. The rapper quickly launched her solo career; supported by the one she still calls her mentor: Alpha Blondy. The so-called high school girl soon rose to queen of rap in Côte d'Ivoire.
Eazy / South Side
Prodigious children from the Thai diaspora, in the US Khanngoen "Khan" Nuanual, P. Cess - Prinya "Way" Intachai and Sunny Day - Nay Mayo "Day" Thot were among the first to import hip-hop to their country of origin. The first two albums of the group, released in 2000, were recorded in New York. But it's really in Bangkok, with their successive three albums, where they won critical acclaim.
Ali Gul Pir2013pakistan
Known to raid the mike, Ali Gul Pir ridicules the powerful. Listen to the caustic flow of this son of a political prisoner who has made freedom of expression in Pakistan his life struggle. The rebellious aesthetic of hip-hop combined with satire and lyrics in Urdu is a recipe for success, authored by Pir. In his first clip broadcast on YouTube in 2012, this trained comedian impersonated a crooked oligarch. The video was viewed more than a million times in less than a month. A first for Pakistan.
These BX rascals – meaning Brussels - propelled themselves to the top of Belgian rap in record time. JJ, a native of Charleroi and of Moroccan origin and Caba the Spaniard, boast eclecticism as their style and the source of their inspiration. Behind the burlesque and irreverent ego-trip of these guys next door is a strong hip-hop culture that sports a collection of allies - among the best producers of their generation. Their duo is a hit machine that whips fans into mosh frenzy.
Considered one of the pioneers of French rap, Passi began his career in the late 1980s among the stairwells of a suburb of Paris. His solo titles, and those with the group Ministry A.M.E.R, have since become classics. But at the time of the sulfurous Brigitte femme de flic (Brigitte, cop wife), hip-hop in France had barely achieved the status of music. This Franco-Congolese born in Brazzaville and raised in Sarcelles, is part of a generation that achieved the double feat of adapting a foreign musical culture imported straight from the US, and portraying on stage and for radio an uncompromising chronicle of urban France, popular and marginalized.
End of the game2018France
Declared beat boxing champions of France in 2017, the crew is composed of artists who also excel solo. Colaps, K.I.M., Polo Mr Groove, Scouilla and Fayabraz are high-octane athletes and passionate ambassadors of a discipline they still consider neglected by the public. Their music, transcendent, their instrument - voice, breath – unique, offer endless possibilities. Tune in, their art draws from the origins of rap - without cash or turntables. Their references are as eclectic as their beats are rich: Biz Marquie, Rhazel and Coluche!
In the late 1980s, a certain Dee Nasty imported a new musical genre into France via Radio Nova. Hip-hop back then was for the initiates. It is at the Globo that aficionados gathered to rap, scratch, and dance. This is where the first generation of French artists cut their teeth. It is in this cellar on the boulevard one night, when DJ Cash Money was at the turntables, where Cut Killer discovered his calling, and became a deejaying sensation in France but also on the other side of the Atlantic. In the hip-hop world, people fight to get at his mix-tapes. His CDs earn him gold and platinum. Cut Killer collaborates with the best rappers of his generation, composes music for the cinema, in turn became a radio and TV host, and now produces and propels new talents. As hip-hop is a universal language, and corrupted when it becomes too commercial, Cut Killer does all this without ever straying from his ethics as a pioneer.
A long-time disciple and regular deejay of the Wu-Tang Clan, DJ Mathematics, like most members of the legendary US East Coast crew, boasts a prolific career both solo and within the Wu-Tang collective. The New Yorker deejay joined the movement in the 1980s in the immediate wake of the founders of hip-hop. At the time artists from Queens, Harlem and the Bronx were imbued with spiritual and political zeal. Heirs to the Zulu Nation of Afrika Bambaataa, they claim, above all, brotherhood with the religious movements defending the rights of black Americans, such as the Nation of Islam and the more esoteric Five-Percent Nation. The East coast rappers then developed and shared a philosophy and its related metalanguage, from which DJ Mathematics drew his stage name. In 2017, he produced Wu-Tang's seventh album, titled The Saga Continues.
Joe Flizzow is a businessman, a pioneer of hip-hop in Malaysia. By the end of the 1990s, this MC had built on the solid foundation of his fame a small business empire called Kartel. Joe produces music and TV shows, owns labels, recruits talent and is creator of a line of spin-offs - all while remaining a rapper and producing his own hits! "I'm not attracted to gangsta life, but I like the gangsta mentality!” This concludes the demonstration.