ISSUE NO. 10 / Septembre 2021
A Rap & a cup of tea
Featuring Ronisia // Denzo // Caballero & JeanJass
• Editor's Speech p.3 • Punchlines p.4 • Reviews p.11 • Playlist p.22 • International Feat p.29
Caballero & JeanJass p.23
• Who's? • Zed Yun Pavarotti p.31 • Némir p.21 • The Team p.33 • Credits p.35
Photography Cover © Urivaldo Lopes
Gaddem we made it to the double-digit! Who would have believed it? Maybe not my former teachers, or even me if I had been told... Once again, I take this opportunity to thank you with all my heart. Thanks to the artists, to their staff, thanks to those who have followed me in this adventure since the beginning, thanks to my loved ones for supporting me daily and above all, an infinite thank you to you, our readers. Thank you for all your support and love. I’m also so proud that for this 10th issue - which is so important to us and so symbolic also there's a woman on the cover. What pride! Particularly because Ronisia is a great artist and we’re so proud of that!
Mama Lova? Everything’s for you, everything will always be for you and to make you proud. Tata Marie? Same. I would never be here without you and all the love you’ve always given me.
Don’t hesitate to follow us on Instagram where we post exclusive content every day to keep you entertained and discover new sounds from all over the world. As we used to say: “Be humble. Be hungry. And always be the hardest worker in the room.” We still have so many artists to make you discover and I look forward for you to meet them and their dazzling universes. Be ready for the next level, the adventure is only beginning - if God wills. With all my love, Fanny Hill Scott
Punchline "I learned that everything that shines isn’t worth a friend’s price." Nekfeu
"Who can claim to do Rap without taking a position?" Ärsenik
"Turning my dreams into goals, I mix happiness and sacrifices." Ben PLG
"Pain becomes a weapon once controlled by a master." Frenetik
"A lie repeated a thousand times will never become a truth." Médine
"If you neglect the love for your mother in spite of a stranger, question yourself." Tsew The Kid
Illustration © Emilia Smolka
Thanks to this wonderful album that allows Denzo to enter the Rap Game by the big door, the latter surprised everyone by offering his fans a first album both touching and fabulous. Although Denzo shook up our assumptions with a rich and diversified project ranging from bangers - in which we know he is unstoppable - to summer hits and genuine songs written with an open heart, the young 20-year-old artist has set the bar very high. Humble, sincere and honest, the rapper who grew up in Grigny (91) in the suburbs of Paris, didn't hesitate to speak candidly to A Rap & A Cup Of Tea about the competition that exists in the Rap industry today and his desire to share - the very essence of Rap in his eyes. As he says in his song "Parolier" (Lyricist), "Dans le terter je suis le parolier" (In this hood, I'm the lyricist) and one must admit that he knew how to successfully describe the environment in which he grew up, the same environment that gave him the desire to get out of it in life. Resourceful and ambitious, Denzo speaks about his beginnings in music until the rise of his first album, a real "Pépite".
I want to know everything, how did you start in the Rap world? I started with a group called 3GC, when I was 13 years old and now I'm 20 years old so I've been rapping for 7 years. Well you know at first, I wasn't serious about it... (laughs) I was just rapping and goofing around with my friends. When they decided to stop, I chose to continue. It was hard at the beginning before my producers joined me on my projects, because I had to pay for everything myself. The studio, my videos, etc.. And then I met the people who are now my producers. They're the big guys from my neighborhood. From there, we created our label Royal Music and one thing leading to another, we got signed and it allowed us to release our first album in July. Was it hard to pay for your own songs when you were younger? Yes it was hard because I had to do it on my own. I had to write the lyrics, get the money to take an Uber to the studio, I had to pay for my own clothes, I had to eat every day, you know? I really had to do everything. Right, and at what point did you realize that you wanted to pursue Rap Music and nothing else, even if it was hard doing it? Well, I used to play football and I was good at it too. But I saw that there were many talented people in this field. Rap was such a passion that I ended up giving up football. That's really when I knew that I wanted to pursue only Rap music, that was all I had in mind.
I also heard that you were inspired by the rappers from Grigny while growing up... Yeah it's true that they inspired me. What they tell us in their lyrics, it was really what we were living and what was happening. A lot of things are happening in Grigny and they found the right words to describe every single detail. And personally, I was really inspired by that. You know, there are a lot of rappers there, but what was good about them is that each of them had his own flow and his own style. We, the guys from Grigny, have to have something unique to stand out from the others and to have our own style. Besides, among these rappers, there were my cousins, my uncles... Sooner or later, I knew I was gonna start rapping, you know?
'' Of course there's competition in the Rap scene! But it's something that rappers tend to hide.''
We already saw you with Koba LaD more than a year ago on the featuring "Y'a Les Porcs". It was obvious for you that he was going to be present again on your project in the song "Tout Dedans". Can you tell me more about your bond with him? First of all, I know him. Koba is a guy from the 91 department like me, he comes from Evry and so I watched him grow, you know? I was always sending him messages to congratulate him for what he achieved because I know where he comes from. And he always appreciated that about me. He also was always humble enough to congratulate me and support me. He gives me strength and he knew that I was going to produce an album, so he came and saw me and that's how it happened. It's true that there's a good chemistry between us.
The music video is insane and is based on movie posters. How did you get the idea? Actually, it's my director Omar Piechurski & Gary Song who had this idea in mind for some time and since I trust him with everything, I went with the idea. It turned out great and it's a music video that everybody likes, I'm really happy!
Coming back to your new project, can you tell me more about the meaning of its name "La Pépite"? The name, I already had it in mind and when we produced the intro of the album, the first sentence had to reflect the rest of the project. And the first sentence is "La pépite doit sortir de l'ombre pour briller" (The nugget must come out of the shadows to shine) and for me, this line sums up the project the best. Because for me, Grigny is a dark place where a lot of things happen. And in this dark place, there is a little gold nugget called Denzo who has to come out of there to shine, you know what I mean? I have to represent my neighborhood, it's important to me.
We feel that this project is about songwriting... What's the main inspiration for your texts? It's my life, the questions I ask myself, my choices, my doubts, my anger... All those things that really affect me. Like for example in "Allo" when I say: "Il y a des millions de morts au Congo, l'ordre donné par les blancos." (Millions of black people are killed in the Congo, on the orders of white people.)
Is there an ultimate message you wanted to convey with this project? The desire to succeed. I think that's my primary message, I want to encourage people to want to succeed. Because nobody is doomed to fail, nobody. Everybody has to succeed, no matter what you do. Success is not necessarily about having millions of euros, it's just about being fulfilled in what you do.
There are also great featurings on this project like with Ronisia, Bramsito, Jok'Air or Ferre Gola. How did these collaborations happen? First of all, big up to these artists because they really helped us with the project, and it's a pleasure. Basically, for me, Rap is all about sharing. I'll tell you the truth, even before I made my first million views, I thought things were really like: "I'm going to get into the Rap industry, I'm going to make feats with everyone because I like the idea of sharing." But as time went by, I realized that not everyone had the same mentality as me and that some people like to play it solo and that put me off a bit. But I was able to collaborate with a lot of people and rappers like Dalton, we were in the same group before and he was always supportive. It's mainly a matter of meeting the right people and the right feeling, you know?
'' I want to encourage people to want to succeed. Because nobody is doomed to fail.'
Do you feel that there's competition in the Rap scene? Of course there is! But that's something that rappers tend to hide. I prefer honest people. I'm a sincere person and I have a hard time with people who lie in their speech. Don't portray yourself in interviews or in your music as someone you are not. If you're a competitive person, show it, there's no point in lying. There are a lot of people who are in the spotlight and who wait for the others to be in the spotlight too to collaborate, you know what I mean? We're still the same guys from the hood. Before you reached the top, it was guys like us who gave
you the strength and talked about you to everyone, in every neighborhood, to help you make it. God knows I'm not envious of anyone, I'm happy for everyone who made it in music. But unfortunately for some people when you mention a feat it's like you're trying to double-cross them because they're so competitive... Your song "Mama Léa" is very moving... It must have been difficult to expose yourself in this way? The recording in the studio was a moment that really struck me. Everyone was quiet in the studio, the sound engineer and SNK were there, he was the one who created the instrumental and the topline, and he told me to unleash myself on this track... I think I'll remember it forever. If you listen closely, you can almost hear me crying because it's such a powerful song. There is a beautiful mix in this project between more ambient and urban songs like "Paris Tanger", "A2" or even mellower ones like "C'est Comme Ça" and "Je Dois"... Was it intentional or did you do it unconsciously? It was all planned, I didn't want to create a project with repeated sounds. I don't like to make songs that sound the same. I'm Congolese, I know I can master any kind of sound. (laughs) I wanted to create a diverse album. I listen to all kinds of music and I wanted to show it. In the song "Avenir" (Future) you say "Mon avenir est entre mes mains" (My future's in my hands) ... What can we wish you for the future in this case? You can wish me success, happiness. Yeah, just to be happy, a long life and happiness for my family. Denzo_gbf
Words © Fanny Hill Scott Photography © David Delaplace
L'Étrange Histoire de Mr.Anderson
LAYLOW 07/2021 © Digital Mundo In July 2021, the French rapper Laylow released his second album named “The strange story of Mr.Anderson”. This album is particular; as we can guess in the title, the album narrows the story of a mysterious guy called Mr.Anderson. In this narrative album, Laylow added up some scenes of daily life with the voice of a narrator, a clever mishmash that testifies to the artist’s creativity. During the whole album, we’re in this particular atmosphere — between dream and reality — that could remind us of the universe of Tim Burton. The name of the album can actually echo to ‘The Strange Christmas Of Mr.Jack” too. In this project, we can also notice the quality of the text. In the song “Tu Comprends Maintenant”, linked to the song “HELP !!!”, Laylow tackles the theme of domestic violence and people's inaction about it. A sensitive subject that can be disturbing because of its freezing realism. The style is daring, sought and brilliant. Faithful to the artist’s universe that made him “special”. “Special”, as in the title of his featuring with Nekfeu, which was particularly appreciated by the public. Laylow collaborate with many artists for this album such as Nekfeu, Damso, Alpha Wann or Hamza; some featuring highly requested have delighted their fans. In this album of 20 tracks, Laylow’s a rapper, an actor, a narrator and a director. To understand all the subtlety of the work, you should listen to his first album named Trinity. It could be really interesting to understand the bionic universe in which the artist progress since then.
© Anna Hias
03/2021 © Maison Baron Rouge // Rec.118
05/2021 © A+LSO
In three months time, 2021 is already over and we can say that we have been spoiled this year in the Rap Game. Of course, I’m talking about albums such as Booba’s one or Laylow but as you probably understood, the project I want to talk about for now is SCH’s one. What the hell was that!?
Despite my French being patchy (at best!), I've always loved listening to music from different countries, in particular French Rap. Admittedly, I haven't kept up to date with the scene for quite a while; that is, until I heard this album. For me, Squidji has been the portal back into the French Rap world - dare I say, triggering the oxytocin.
The S has just offered us 19 tracks of pure genius. Despite the number of tracks, there’s no repetitive aspect. Each flow and instrument are different, SCH hit really hard with this album. There are sung egotrip and powerful chorus as in “Fournaise”, “Zone À Danger”. As for the first opus of the same name, a real storyline emerges from the project. But if we could express some doubts about volume 1, SCH comes here more confident and determined than ever and it we can feel it. He didn’t hesitate to put his emotions at the heart of this project as in “Loup Noir” where he evokes the loss of his father.
The sound of the album encapsulates the city, and love, and life. Squidji portrays a man broken on a journey through the trials of love in conflict, addiction, chance encounters, and introspection. Provoked by emotion, Squidji delves into the depths of human connection, longing for love, and the importance of understanding in relationships. With features from Lous and the Yakuza, Josman and Disiz La Peste, Squidji sensitively tackles feminist issues (positioning Lous and the Yakuza as the spokeswoman), heartbreak and recklessness on some of the stand-out tracks - notably ‘CICRATRICES’ (Scars), ‘A.M.O.U.R’ (Love), and ‘SUBARU’.
The 28-year-old Marseille-based rapper also comes out of his comfort zone as in his feat with Freeze Corleone. The clip is a real masterclass! It’s beautiful, damn it’s fucking beautiful... Big up for the track “Assoces” which is without a doubt one of my favourites with “Loup Noir” and “Euros” where SCH alternates between different types of flow with a disconcerting ease. Obviously, some will say that they didn’t like it but we can say that we loved it! We really loved it! It’s rare in Rap these days to discover albums with so much potential, and just for that, we can thank SCH for that. © Samson Gorski
‘PARIS C’EST NOIR’ (Paris Is Dark) and ‘OXYGÈNE’ (Oxygen) showcase Squidji’s smooth and emotive vocals, while ‘STRIPPER’ and ‘PARADIS BLEU’ (Blue Paradise) provide a welcome contrast to the darkness. The bittersweet and melancholic undercurrent of this album strikes a chord, and the atmospheric interludes colour the auditory experience. Through the maturity represented here, Squidji’s ability to introspect truly shines, and facilitates real connection with his listeners. This is a debut album, and his ability to authentically depict his experiences seems second-nature to him. With his roots in the underground scene and quiet confidence evident, it's an exciting time for Squidji. As one of the stand-out albums of 2021, ‘OCYTOCINE’ proves the perfect accompaniment to late-night drives through the city.
© Samara Husbands
04/2021 © Trente-Quatre Centimes
09/2021 © Studio Vova
Unlike his previous communications strategies, QALF Infinity was planned and highly anticipated by the public. This second part completes the Greek alphabet that he started in 2017 with his magnificent project Ipséité which is today one of the references in the French Rap.
Oboy, this young rapper of 24 years from Val-deMarne in the Parisian region has just hit hard again with his new album called CRARI. After the release of his first projects named Southside in 2018, then Omega in 2019, Oboy’s back with a bigger project now. Just one year after the release of his MAFANA EP, Oboy shows his ultimate evolution through his latest album, and we’re delighted to discover it!
Enough blah-blah-blah let’s talk about music. Personally, I liked QALF which is a great quality album. But, I remained a bit “hungry” because it lacked “the spices” I needed to make me jump off my couch. But that was without counting on INFINITY’s release! The project really conquered me from the first note to the last one. Between dirty flow, melody, topline, sound and so on, this project perfectly completed the first part released a few months ago. I had a real crush on “Morose” where we see a Damso show us his musical palette in an extraordinary way. The song is full of several ways of rapping flows that the Brussel rapper manages to mix with disconcerting ease. Special mention for “Vantablack” where we find an angry artist with a kick worthy of the greatest Rap leaders! If I can give you one piece of advice, don’t make it listen to your parents. “TheVie Radio” is also one of my favourites, I’ve been waiting for Damso on a piece like this for a while, but I’ll let you discover it for yourself, you won’t be disappointed! To make a brief conclusion, I think you understood that I loved the project at 2000% and QALF INFINITY is definitely a project I'll keep on listening to in a few years time as the album was so good. Another tip: if you listen to the album with headphones, it will allow you a guaranteed immersion! After 2 projects in only a few months apart, when’s the next Dems project? © Van's
I can promise you an assured journey in a dark and melodic universe - in total adequacy with the rapper’s image. In 2018, when he made his debut in the Rap Game, he initially remained rather discreet until he could finally show what he was really able to do in music. Through an album of 14 solo songs without any featuring, Oboy showed the extent of his abilities to succeed in the Rap Game. Oboy can be proud to be qualify as the Best Scorer of the season, a well-deserved success and we can say that he deserved his place among the great icons of French Rap. © Firdaous Ab
06/2021 © AllPoints France // Believe Music
05/2021 © Abu Recordings
Kekra, the Parisian artist already present in the French Rap for several years, has just delivered his latest project called Kekra. Indeed, it may surprise that an artist names his album in the same way as his stage name, personally, I find it rather original and daring. One of Kekra’s particularities is the anonymity that he has kept for so many years with different styles to hide his face. Once again, this is a choice that I love as we can 100% focus on his music. Ultra-productive, avant-garde or even controversial, Kekra offered us 17 tracks in the same vein as his many other projects. Big crush on “Number 9” which is a song where you can feel a confident Kekra about his art - something that I really appreciate about him. The album’s hit single “Phénomène” released a few days before the full album is really good and was rather well received by the public. Now let’s talk about “Pas D'Amis” the album outro - what a perfect ending! A soaring sound, a quality mix, and a brilliant artist created a perfect track! However, in my opinion, the real masterclass of the project is “Laforet”, I had never heard Kekra surf this way on a beat. Everything’s well-calibrated, we really have the impression that the artist and the instrumental are one. Of course, I certainly lack objectivity since this is my favourite title, but I highly recommend it, make your mind! As you will have understood, I enjoyed the album, the sounds I quoted are definitely great. Unfortunately, on a full album, I find it difficult to fancy every song even if Kekra remains an artist that I love. Be reassured, my overall opinion remains positive! To enjoy an album, nothing’s better than to make your own judgement! © Van's
‘‘The new Cleo-rap-tra’’ On the back of the success of her first two albums, Egyptian starlet Felukah is back with experimental EP KawKab - translating to ‘planet’ in Arabic. Hailing from Cairo, New-York based Felukah is paving the way for women in hip-hop. Her music tackles deep topics with the dreamy flow of the Nile. With a clear progression from her previous sound, she takes the listener on a neo-soul, psychedelically charged hip-hop journey. Kicking off with ‘PSA’, she is unapologetic about the relentless pursuit of her dreams, while ‘What She Does’ is “an ode to inspiring women everywhere”. ‘Ascension’ (my personal favourite), lulls you with its dreamy start (reminiscent of A$AP Rocky’s ‘L$D’) and unexpectedly switches to a hard-hitting Kendrick-style flow tackling the struggles of youth. With ‘Love On The Comedown’ Felukah proves her versatility with a heavy indie-rock bassline, which complements her silky vocals surprisingly well. The dark undertones of this piece provide a haunting contrast to the celestial beats and perception-altering feel. While the indie-rock and shoegaze influences are clear, Felukah is unafraid to cement her position as a key player in today’s Hip-Hop arena. This piece marks an exciting shift for Felukah and makes the perfect accompaniment to a dusky sunset over the ocean. © Samara Husbands
Don't look any further for the new figure of the French Urban Pop, because she's here and there's no doubt that you have already met her. Originally from Cape Verde, Ronisia grew up in the Paris region, 91 department in Grigny, before getting into music 2 years ago and we can say that she made the right choice. New muse of the Urban Pop, with a feminine touch, her songs keep on getting more and more popular from "Plus De Peine" (No More Pain) to the hit "Atterrissage" (Landing) that helped her win her first Golden single last April. A real turning point in her career, she talks about this event in this open hearted interview. Thanks to her frankness, appreciation and her willingness to embrace all the great opportunities that are open to her in the music industry, the bubbly Ronisia has everything it takes to be a true and passionate artist. With her unique and distinguishable voice, she tells A Rap & A Cup Of Tea about her beginnings and especially about her first album scheduled for release in 2021. Ronisia has everything to please and we are sure that she will not fail to seduce you.
I want to know everything about your career, how did you end up with Sony Epic Records? It happened on social media. Pauline Duarte, the label's director, contacted me through social media and said that she liked what I was doing and that she wanted to meet with my team and from there, it all happened. Do you think it was easier to have a female director too, and that she was able to better understand your artistic choices? I can't speak for my team, but for me, yes, I think I felt more comfortable. I can't say if it's because she's a woman or if it's because we're both from Cape Verde, but I immediately felt more comfortable with her, I had a good feeling. Has the fact of signing with a label changed a lot for you? Yes, of course it changes a lot of things, but my team and I had already been working hard before signing anything. We had already worked on my identity and my career. But it's true that now, it's easier, more doors are open to us. Mainly in terms of promotion, media, etc. They have connections that we didn't necessarily have.
When you first started making music, did you always know that this was all you wanted to do? Well, when I first got into music, I had a lot of doubts. I was 19 years old, I loved to sing and that's all. I didn't see myself having a career. But it's only when I realized that people liked what I did and when I saw all the good feedback I had from my audience and a lot of encouragement from my family that I said to myself "Well, I can turn my passion into a career." Was your family always supportive of this? Totally. My first supporters are my family. Together with my friends, they have always been the first to back me up to this day. They were always there to give me advice, guidance, etc... I think it's important to have an outside opinion because they are the ones who know me the best and it's obviously easier to judge what I do.
'' As a woman in the music industry, I never thought that it would be more challenging. I believe that you have to work hard in every situation.''
I heard that your first album will be released in 2021... Yeah, it should be released in 2021... We still don't know what month, but we're working hard on the project. You must be excited to release your album and hear the audience's feedback on a proper project? Yes, I'm very excited about it, because every day I get messages like "When's your project going to be released?" I want to make new songs for them every day but I can't. (laughs) Well, I think this project is really going to show what I can do because I'm not planning to stick
to one artistic style, and that's what I'm looking forward to sharing with my audience. I'm really going to push myself out of my comfort zone and try things I've never done before, or address topics I've never raised before. I'm really looking forward to people experiencing this.
Can you tell me more about the topics you will cover? The main topic is love for the sake of it. (laughs) Then there's friendship and stuff about my background, where I come from etc. Then there are very personal topics where I speak about what I think and how I see things. It's already quite a lot, isn't it? (laughs)
Will there be any featurings? I was expecting this question. (laughs) All I can say is that yes there will be featurings but I would rather keep it a surprise, it's always better. I hope my audience will like it.
When you write your songs, do you have a particular source of inspiration? Honestly, I don't have a particular source of inspiration. I get inspired by things I see on social media or that my friends tell me or sometimes it can be inspired from my own life, who knows? I often talk about things that all women can relate to.
Is it hard for you to write a song or is writing something that comes naturally to you? At first, it was quite difficult. I had to push myself hard to write. I don't know if it was shyness or maybe a lack of self-confidence but I couldn't do it. I'd write a sentence and I'd say to myself, "This sucks, this doesn't rhyme, this doesn't make sense." But once I finished my first song, I loved it and now I want to write all the time, I don't want anyone to write for me.
Did you set any personal target with the release of your first project? I would like to reach out to as many people as possible. There will be a variety of themes, a variety of musical styles, and I want to show what I can do and show my music. Releasing singles is very different from releasing a project, it's a lot less intimate. I've never had a truly intimate single where I could introduce myself to my audience and with this project, people will get to know more about me.
'' I've never had a truly intimate single where I could introduce myself. With this project, people will get to know more about me.'' Your song "Atterrissage" became a real hit in a few weeks, as did "Jolie Madame" featuring Joé Dwèt Filé. Did you expect such a huge success? Oh no, not at all. The song "Atterissage" (Landing) was one of my favorite tracks and even when we filmed the music video for it, I felt that it had something special. It's like your baby, you know? But I didn't think it was going to be that big of a hit, I was even awarded the Golden Single! Never in my life did I think it would be possible. Just the fact that we got 2 million views was pretty good for me.
As you said at the beginning, you started only 2 years ago, and now your songs are everywhere on the radio, you even trended on TikTok with "Jolie Madame". Was it too hard for you to manage all this fame all of a sudden? No, I wouldn't say it was hard to manage because personally I find that unlike other artists, the audience has always been kind to me. Well, there must be 2-3 haters, but they're a minority, so in my opinion, everything that is happening is positive. It's really cool because I've been getting a lot of support messages and the community is growing too. I'm thankful to be where I am today after only 2 years of doing this. In an interview, you mentioned that the success of "Atterrissage" changed a lot of things for you in your career, can you tell me more about that? Actually, it's more about social media where I had to learn to be more active. There are more and more people following me and they are waiting for me to be more responsive. Before, I used to post one picture a month, which was already good for me because I was not active at all on social media. (laughs) Actually, I'm enjoying chatting with my community more and more, especially when I run into them on the street, it's always a pleasure. Do you find it hard to establish yourself as a woman in the music industry? I would say that it takes hard work. Maybe as a woman it takes more work because it's true that men dominate the music industry, but I never thought that it would be more challenging because of that. I believe that you have to work hard in every situation. Ronisia_mds Words © Fanny Hill Scott Photography (1,3) © Urivaldo Lopes (2) © Faïd Hadji
Némir It’s finally after 6 years of a long wait that the artist Némir released his first album released in 2019 that simply bears his name and we loved it! Némir being both singer and rapper with his almost broken voice no longer goes unnoticed. He made his debut alongside the collective L'Entourage which includes Nekfeu, Alpha Wann or Jazzy Bazz. He continues his journey by making some opening act of the gig tour of the Belgian artist Stromae for his album Racine Carré in 2013. If Némir knows a bigger notoriety it's thanks to his unique voice’s tone and his collaborations with Deen Burbigo, S-Pri Noir or Nekfeu with the tracks “Princesse” et “Elle Pleut”. His first project was supposed to be produced much earlier, but the artist said: “I didn’t know I was so complicated, so demanding, so lazy. I found myself very afraid to face the criticism of people.” The hesitations and fears of this young artist may have delayed the release of the album but in the end, he offered us a wonderful project with all his facets. A flayed voice with a dancing tempo and gipsy sounds. “Des Heures” reflects Némir’s musical identity. Originally from Perpignan, in the South of France, something solar emerges from this very intimate album. The song “Loin Devant” is especially intended for his mother. If writing appeared to be important in his album, Némir explained his state of mind in an interview: “I took the lead to make a very easy track and not too intellectual or elitist. I wanted a piece on a human scale, beyond any artistic arrogance. That’s the state of mind my mother gave me.” The mixture of sunny and intimate songs and his voice constantly worked to be perceived as “broken” brings us comfort and reminds us of a certain fragility. We can say that Némir knew how to create his own universe, sometimes Rap with wild eloquence or sometimes Pop with bubbly songs. No doubt, Némir and his eponymous album won’t fail to seduce you before discovering Ora his new EP released in June 2021. Tell us about it! Nemirnems
© Camille Jahier
Playlist Joé Dwèt Filé Disiz x Lucasv
Costa x Sean
“Une Histoire Étrange”
Drawings © Gabriel Dominiak
CabALLero & JeanJass In this dual voice interview, we meet one of the most mystical duos of the Belgian Rap Game and without question the most famous, I'm talking here of course about Caballero & JeanJass. Although their audience knows them as a duo, the two famous rappers started their career as solo artists. We meet them today for this brand new concept from the imagination of these two Rap Game outsiders who decided to release their solo project at the same time. Between brotherhood, unity and their own identity, these two Belgian phenomena talk to A Rap & A Cup Of Tea about their creative process to come up with their respective new projects. With a good sense of humor, Caballero and JeanJass, known for their hits such as "Dégeulasse", "Sur Mon Nom" and "Californie", will not fail to seduce you.
Can you tell me more about your career and your highlights? JeanJass: It's hard to list all the highlights... In short, we met in 2011 and we started working on our first project Double Hélice 1 in 2016. It's a trilogy with volume 2 and 3. Alongside that, we made a web series called "High et fine herbes" (High and Fine herbs) where we combined our two passions for plants and food. (laughs) And we just released a double solo album with one part each, kind of like OutKast did a long time ago.
Caballero: When "Repeat" was released - one of the singles from Double Hélice (Double Helix) - it was my first ever experience, and I must say that it was very memorable and enjoyable. "High et fine herbes" I also think we created something original that was not done at all in Europe or in the French Rap scene... The Olympia sold-out show is also one of the three things that marked me.
What made you want to release a solo album at the same time? C: I think it's in the pursuit of originality. Exclusive content... We really like that aspect of things in music. It's a bit like a new formula, a new breath of freshness.
Was it obvious for you to keep this "duo" style in releasing your respective projects at the same time? J: We could have released a solo project separately, but that would have had many drawbacks... Like Caba said, we wanted to come up with something original. No one else in the French Rap scene has done what we did. And besides that, for the people who follow us, we also had solo careers before forming a duo but most of them only know us as a duo. It was a more subtle way to remind them of that and to offer a new formula as Caba said.
Did you work together on the themes of your albums or did you actually go through the creative process alone? C: Not really, we kind of went our own way. But obviously, we work in the same studio so we have established a common rhythm and techniques. We work together all the time and if one of us had something to play to the other, he would do it. We are great at advising each other I think. When we are well supported it is often easier. Why did you choose OSO and Hat Trick as your album name? J: I had my cover in mind for a long time and I was looking for a cool title related to football, but not something that would be cheesy. And "Hat Trick" in all about scoring three goals in the same game. It's a quite exceptional performance, kind of an egotrip. It's like saying, "Here I come and I'm going to score three goals." Sometimes people think you spend a few months thinking about that when I only put 5 minutes into it. (laughs)
'' We wanted to come up with something original, like a new formula with our solo album released at the same time.''
C: "Oso" in Spanish means "bear". It turned out to be one of my aliases over time, kind of like a nickname or a totem animal. I felt that it fit me well with this project. How did you feel about doing a whole solo project? Were you more free or were you a bit lost when faced with all the possibilities? J: I personally looked at it as a new playground. Of course there are moments when you need to step back and ask the opinion of others. But it also allows you to dig really deep into your own story and feelings. It was very inspiring for me. C: Totally agree with you. (laughs)
Can you tell me more about your respective featurings? Is there one with a particular story behind it? C: For me, I must admit that there is no particular story... Back in the days of "High et fines herbes" we tried to make a lot of featurings with the help of our managers to establish new connections. With this project, I really wanted to collaborate with people I like to make music with. It's true that with PLK we didn't have a previous experience but he's someone I've known for a long time and I get along very well with him. It was the right time to do this feat with him. So, I chose instead to go with people who are close to me. J: As for me, I had a real blast. I'm a big fan of Akhenaton from IAM. He's the French rapper I've listened to the most and that I greatly admire. I've been dreaming of doing a song with him for a very long time. I had already written my part and it turned out to be our song "Mains Qui Prient". At first I thought of taking it as a solo and when I listened to it one morning I said to myself: "Damn, this reminds me of some AKH songs!" So I contacted him on WhatsApp through some mutual friends and within an hour I had him on the phone. Not even a week later I got his verse in my mailbox. It's the easiest featuring that I've ever did in my life, it can't be easier than that. (laughs)
Does the fact that each of you is releasing a solo album, create a sort of competition between you two? J: Yeah, totally. (laughs) C: I don't think it did at that point particularly. I think we have always been competitive with each other but it's really wholesome. J: Like Caba said, we have always had this competition where we always want to do better. We always motivate and boost each other, you know?
Is there an ultimate message that you want to convey through your respective projects? J: There's this "strength in unity" concept. We came from two different teams before we got to know each other. I've known my DJ for 10 years and it's been great, and I've known my manager since I was 15, so personally that's how it's always worked: by sticking together. These are strong values that I believe in.
It is often said that Belgian artists are ahead of their time, like Stromae or Damso with their music, compared to the French and by creating this "joint solo" project which is a first and you also confirm this theory. What do you think about it? J: For us, it's hard to have an objective opinion but what is sure is that we are living a "golden age" in music. Not only Belgian and French rappers but even worldwide. Everybody can rap today. It's really a great time to make music, that's for sure.
'' We have always been competitive with each other but it's really wholesome.''
In the OSO album, we can see several tracks in Spanish like "Ya No Sé", "Para Siempre", "Arriba". Is it important for you to put forward your Spanish origins? C: It's natural. If I really had to express myself and show my true colors, it's natural that I bring up my Spanish origins. Of course you will find my mother tongue and my origins. And I find it quite cool too.
lives of famous friends. That's how I got to see the perverted aspect of the celebrity life. I kind of analyzed and criticized it through this song.
Do you think that your fans were receptive to this project or do you think that they are a bit confused like "you're not going to do any more projects together"? C: Well, there are always people who are more apprehensive than others and who don't like to be pushed around. J: It's clearly a minority because personally I've never received that kind of message... I think for Caba it's no different? Even in terms of numbers, although it's not something I'm interested in per se, my manager told me it's doing very well so it feels good. I think we have a great fanbase and I realized that even more on this project.
Who would you like to do a featuring with? J: With Caba! (laughs) C: I would say Drake or Kendrick! J: Your right, it's doesn't hurt to dream! (laughs) I can't wait to do a feat with them as well as Rosalia! Caballerobxl & Jeanjass
Words © Gloria Dominiak Photography © Romain Garcin
In "Qu'est ce qui m'arrive" (What's happening to me) JeanJass, you talk about the dehumanizing aspects of being famous. In this song we have the impression that sometimes you don't really feel like you belong? J: Luckily that's not what I'm experiencing. (laughs) I was inspired by many things in the
INTERNATI USA x France
Haiti x F
Migos x Gradur “L’Homme Au Bob”
Gato x “Ha
Nigeria x France CKay x Franglish “Love Nwantiti”
D.R. Congo x France Dadju x Gaz Mawete “Mwasi Ya Congo”
Italy x France
Capo Plaza x SCH x Soolking “Every Day”
SahBabii x “Solita
Great Britain x France Orelsan ft Nekfeu x Dizzee Rascal “Zone”
Morocco x France Dosseh x MADD “Risk It”
Mali x France Sidiki Diabaté x Guizmo “Jamais Oublié”
x Ateyaba aires”
Cameroon x France Manu Dibango x Tayc “Ewondo Ou Bami” Illustration © Emilia Smolka
Zed Yun Pavarotti Zed Yun Pavarotti also known as “Zed” or “Le Yun”, is a French artist whose musical style is unclassifiable. From his real name Charlan Zouaoui-Peyrot, he grew up in Saint-Etienne, an old mining town marked by the poverty of the people and where the atmosphere can be heavy. In this greyish landscape that doesn’t inspire happiness, the artist finds poetry. Le Yun is interested in classical music, especially with the Italian tenor Pavarotti who inspired part of his pseudonym. It’s a Beatles title that was decisive for Zed, listening tirelessly to “Yesterday”, this song will inspire him to make music. Between Cloud Rap to Rock, Pop or Trap, the Yun has an ambivalent style. He started under the name of Zed in 2016 with the first project Sextus before adopting the pseudonym Zed Yun Pavarotti by launching a duo with his faithful friend and beatmaker Osha. In 2018 he signed with the label Artside Music, a breakthrough signature for his musical career. His flow is defined, the style is catchy and he offers us captivating and effective melodies through some sounds like “De Larmes” from his album Beauseigne. This is his first album, released in 2020 after two mixtapes French Cash (2019) and Grand Zéro (2018). “Beauseigne” is an expression from his county that expresses a sympathetic pity; a title that’s significant because it refers to his hometown. A city that he inked on his skin with his “maison” tattoo. Saint-Etienne also impacts his music with nostalgia as we notice in his song “Interlude”. Playing with rules, Zed Yun Pavarotti writes texts rich in metaphors, counter-meanings and puns. It’s not always easy to understand his music, which is not to be taken at the first degree. Perhaps that his aim is to let his audience finding the hidden meaning or to give it some meaning also. So, as listeners, we can also simply let ourselves be carried away by the poetry of the sounds that detach us from a glum reality. Wanting to remain true to his identity, Zed Yun doesn’t seek to expand his audience. Conscious of not being able to make unanimity with his particular style, Zed prefers to be authentic in his artistic approach. Surprising and poetic, Zed Yun Pavarotti is an artist to discover. Zedyunpavarotti
© Anna Hias
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