Yo! This is Sach AKA your friendly neighborhood Ohword poster and I’ll be filling in for Jeff today while he’s out tripping on Peyote and trying to hit on Hippie chicks. Expect high quality guest posts all week as Mr. Passion of the Weiss has put together an all star lineup of elite bloggers, itching to spread their own unique musical gospel to the masses. For those familiar with Ohword, sit back relax and let yourself go and for the uninitiated among you…be afraid. Be very afraid.

Today we’ll be talking about France…more specifically its Hip Hop scene. As the world’s second largest consumer of homegrown Hip-Hop after the United States, the French have defied expectations by wholly embracing rap a few decades after totally dropping the ball on rock music. Some say the high percentage of unemployment among disaffected immigrant youth has contributed to Hip-Hop’s taking root over there. Others think that the French just couldn’t get down with guitars and rap’s drum based aesthetic suited their needs. Whatever the reason, the French got Hip-Hop and this has resulted in quite a few awesome tracks, some which sound dope without even knowing the language. With that in mind, let’s take a mind expanding (funky) ride around the world with a little guest post I call…5 really dope French rap tracks to impress that hot foreign chick with.

1)Akhenaton – Dirigé Vers L’est
What is it? Marseilles’ answer to Wu-Tang’s 5%er spiritual bent and Rakim’s pseudo-mystical rhymes.
Who’s Akh…Ak…that guy? As IAM’s head lyricist in charge, Akhenaton might as well be France’s Gza, Raekwon and Nas all in one. Later he went all soulful and abstract so he might be their Ghostface too. He’s that dope.
What the hell is this song about? Rhyming from the perspective of some sort of Islamic demigod, AKH drops battle-rhymes a plenty over the song’s eastern inflected bassline. Sample lyrics include: Servant of the shadows dropping lyrics in the night, cuz Lucifer in Latin means the one that brings the light. That doesn’t actually mean anything but it sounds cool.
Anything else to look out for? Check out the wicked “in tune” scratching at the end of the song. Not too many DJs doing that in 94 in the US, let alone in France.

2)Supreme NTM – Qu’est-ce qu’on attend (Remix)
What is it? In 1995, two inner city kids wrote a song warning that if shit didn’t change in the ghetto, kids were going to burn shit to the ground. 10 years later, this shit happened. As Stephen Colbert might say, they called it.
Who’s NTM? The French NWA with an eastcoast bent. Kind of reductive but that’s about it.
So what’s the big deal? Supreme NTM have repeatedly gone to prison for their rhymes. Yup, you heard me, this shit so thoroughly freaked out the white French establishment that they found a way to lock these guys up for “inciting violence”. That’s whoa.
Anything else to look out for? The crisp modern production on this remix.

3)Saian Supa Crew – The Pitchy and Scratchy Show
What is it? Proof that no matter how dorky it might sound on paper or on American Idol (or out of Timberlake’s mouth), in the right circumstances, beatboxing can actually sound pretty cool.
Saian what now? Comparing the Saian Supa Crew to American artists is kind of like trying to explain Outkast with British Invasion metaphors: it doesn’t work. But here we go: one part Leaders of the New School, one part Spragga Benz, one part Rawkus Records, one part Redman, one part Pharcyde, one part Soca and a whole bunch of humor for good measure. In other words, these guys are ecclectic backpackers.
What the hell is this? A bunch of French guys “scratching” famous lines ala DJ Premier and rhyming in between. Duh.
My brain hurts… just be happy I didn’t put up one of the really weird tracks.

4)Fonky Family – Aux Absents
What is it? France’s answer to Incarcerated Scarfaces minus the battle rapping: a teary-eyed dedication to locked up homies.
Fonky Family? Sounds corny: Actually, they are corny. But back in 1997 Fonky Fam (La Rat, Don Choa, SAT and Menzo) were some of the rawest, hungriest rappers in France. Their debut Si Dieu Veut (translation: Lord Willing) was the sound of four guys who knew they were going to end up dead or in jail if this rap thing didn’t work out.
Whoa…dope beat! Yeah, the whole album sounds like a mix between Havoc and Rza during some really heavy times. Check it out.
Awesome! Now I can check out the rest of their stuff! Save yourself the heart-ache. Like Raekwon, it was all downhill from here.

5)La Cliqua – Tué dans la Rue
What is it? The Bootcamp Click…en Français.
The Bootcamp Click? Really? The story goes like this : in the mid 90’s French Hip-Hop was a little on the outdated side with most cats sounding like some happy go lucky early 90’s shit. La Cliqua dropped their debut, unleashing heavy basslines and crime related battle rhymes into the Parisian psyche and the rest is history with ghetto youth trading in peace-sign medalions for hoddies and timbs.
What’s the song about? Well the hook is about dying in the streets…but the whole track’s a bunch of shit talk. It’s all about the flow baby pops.
Racial trivia: main emcee Rocca is actually Colombian. If you think French rap is complicated, try French rap with random Spanish thrown in for good measure.

So that’s it for today’s geography lesson. Please check back tomorrow for a guest post about music you can actually understand. Shout-outs to Jeff for the opportunity to drop some knowledge and if you liked this, check out Ohword: we’re currently on some downtime but things will be picking up soon. If only because it’s bad form for me to be dropping more guest posts than actual content over at home base.

We rely on your support to keep POW alive. Please take a second to donate on Patreon!