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Ashbery 07-29-2011 07:02 PM

Ashbery's Journal
 
This seems like a hip thing to do so I'm going to do it.

My first rec is an album that's in the running for my favorite release of the year, Noir by Blue Sky Black Death. I don't know this forum very well so I don't know if BSBD has been passed around, but they're a Seattle-based trip hop/instrumental hip hop duo who I think are a couple of the most talented producers around. In my opinion, Noir tops their last great trip hop release called Late Night Cinema (2008).





They're quite popular in the trip hop crowd so I won't be surprised if it's nothing new to anybody here, but another good (and relatively unknown) Seattle trip hop group that has a similar sound is The New Law. Their album High Noon (2009) is really fluid and moving. They have a new album in progress that I'm really excited to hear.




Ashbery 07-30-2011 03:10 PM

Copy/pasted from my post in the foreign hip hop thread:

I've sifted through this thread and found some good stuff, shame it died. There was a lot of French hip hop comparatively, but honestly most of it here isn't that great considering how many great French artists there are. I saw some mentions of IAM, MC Solaar, Keny Arkana and Fonky Family who I think are all amazing, so I'll lay down some recs for those first. I'd be happy to assist anyone looking for these albums in PMs.

Most of the hip hop in France was born out of similar circumstances that existed in the US. The French banlieu's (suburbs) have high concentrations of poverty, crime, and unemployment, generally offering very few opportunities to the kids that grow up there--not unlike the inner city projects in the US. As a result, most French hip hop that came out of the areas surrounding Marseille, Paris, or other major cities is very politically aware and has something meaningful to say. Even if you can't understand it, you can most certainly feel it in their expression. (Or you could always pop the lyrics into google translate for a rough idea of what is being said, though you won't get the rhymes or the amazing flow to go with it.)

This will most definitely end up being quite a long post, or series of posts. I can't attach images yet because my post count is too low, but I will come back upload album covers later.


IAM - L'École du micro d'argent (1997)

IAM has often been compared to the Wu Tang Clan of French hip hop. They definitely have similar aesthetics and part of this album was even recorded in the US with RZA's help. This is my favorite hip hop album, and in my opinion, the greatest French rap album ever dropped.

L'École du micro d'argent (School of the silver mic)
The intro song has a lot of authority:


Demain, c'est loin (Tomorrow is far)
The outro song has become an anthem of sorts for the French youth. 9 minutes (2 verses) of socio-political conscious rap with hardcore flow and a great beat:


Libère mon imagination (Free my imagination)
A song about the origins of hip hop, and one of my favorite beats of all time. En anglais, the chorus goes "The beat frees my imagination, reminds me that my music was born in a field of cotton."


In addition to L'École du micro d'argent, I recommend checking out their '03 release Revoir en printemps which has a few guests you might recognize from the US.

IAM solo work

The rappers on L'École du micro d'argent are Shurik'n (deep voice, black guy) and Akhenaton (mid range voice, white guy). One of their dancers, Freeman, eventually became a regular rapper on their albums after the '97 release and has one solo album as well. Their producers DJ Kheops and Imhotep have solo albums as well, but in all honesty they're not that great.

Shurik'n - Où je vis (1998)

My 2nd favorite French hip hop album. It was produced by Shurik'n himself and happens to have some of my favorite beats, as well as some of my favorite flow. He reflects a lot of his interest in oriental culture and sounds in this album, as he also happens to be a martial artist and all around badass mother****er. Really, this guy is so cool it's inspirational.

Où je vis (Where I live)
A song about what he would tell visitors about his people and their way of life were they to visit the banlieus.
The chorus in English translation:
Quote:

See where I live
People still die of hunger here
Cold, boredom
Some flirt with oblivion
They fold or pay the price
There are those who laugh
The conscience
It's like a stain, it dries


L.E.F.


Akhenaton - Meteque et mat (1995)

Akhenaton is overall more inconsistent than Shurik'n, but he still has his many moments of brilliance. I like his work with IAM much, much more in general, but all his solo albums have something to offer as well. Meteque et mat is far from a perfect album, but there are a few songs on it that I really dig.

Bad boys de Marseille part 2


Un brine de haine (A seed of hatred)


And a live version of a song from his album Soldats de fortune (Soldiers of fortune) from '08

La fin de leur monde (The end of their world)


Yeah, they're performing with a live band, including string section, in front of the Egyptian pyramids for their 20th anniversary. Go watch the rest of that concert. It's amazing.

Freeman - L'Palais de justice (1999)

People tend to discount Freeman because only had one verse on L'École du micro d'argent, but since he started rapping on the regular, he's definitely proved that he can hang with Shurik'n and Akhenaton and he showcases that on his album.

L'Palais de justice (The court of law)


Bladi


Ok, that's all for IAM and their side projects for now. There's a lot more to say, but I've spent too long on it for today. I've got plenty of more knowledge to drop on French hip hop, and something to say about the rest of the world as well. I'm really interested in feedback and other recommendations from everyone else here also, because I'm not really familiar with anyone yet.


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