ISSUE NO. 12 / May 2022
A Rap & a cup of tea
Featuring Kalash // Lyna Mahyem // Moha MMZ & much more
• Editor's Speech p.3 • Punchlines p.4 • Reviews p.11 • Playlist p.22 • International Feat p.29 • The team's favourite p.21 • The Team p.35 • Credits p.37
Moha MMZ p.15
Photography Cover © Koria
“An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.” Paulo Coelho Once again, I'm moved to write these words and to be here for the 12 times, more than 3 years after our first release. We’ve been on the road since then... and we’re gonna be on the road again! I always have so much emotion to thank you for your loyalty, the time you take to read to us and discover all these incredible artists and especially for your support. It means the world to me. I’m also so happy to highlight Zouk and Shatta Dancehall in this new issue! I, who love Zouk and Kompa so much, am blessed to be able to proudly highlight artists who make this music vibrate and never cease to beautify it. Mama Lova? It’s number 12 (already!) and as you know, I dedicate all my victories to you. All of them. Your love carries me so far... Je t'aime Maman. Tata Marie? You are the apple of my eye. And even if Rap music is not your thing: I am proud to make you proud. Take care of yourself, take care of your loved ones. See you for number 13! With all my love, Fanny Hill Scott
Punchline "Absent during my fights, I don’t want to see you when I'm successful." Kaaris
"You don’t want to see me anymore, but I only see myself with you." Kaza
"They betray their wives, so tell me why these men would not betray me." Maska
"I am living proof that dreams are powerful." Disiz
"Your second life begins when you realise that you only have one." Georgio
"Judging is a mistake. You’re not better than others, it’s just that your sins are different from theirs." Youssoupha
Illustration © Emilia Smolka
Lyna mAHyeM 5
If you were looking for a new female icon of the French entertainment industry, here she is and her name is Lyna. Funny, caring, persevering and talented, Lyna is a real sunshine in the French urban landscape. Speaking to A Rap & A Cup Of Tea, Lyna shares her motivations, the things she cares about and the authenticity she has put into her new album. Blessed with a great heart, Lyna didn't hesitate to actively take a stand against harassment with one of the main titles of her new album "S.O.S". The melancholy of her lyrics but also the hope she conveys echoed in the hearts of her fans. From the joys of love to the heartaches, Lyna has managed to conquer an intergenerational audience. As if she wanted to cleanse away the pain and rage in life, the artist from the Paris region opens up in this striking interview.
How would you describe your unique musical style to an English-speaking audience eager to know more about you? I would say that I'm both crazy and authentic. Hence the title of my new album: Authentic. As a matter of fact, I wanted to talk to you about it, can you tell me more about the meaning behind it? For me, there's no place for fake things. Only real things speak for themselves, and I think that's what I portray to people: authenticity. I like to be natural. I'm just too lazy to change personas between the stage and real life. If I have to go buy a loaf of bread tomorrow and I have a hole in my sock, I don't care. (laughs) I don't care if I have to be all dressed up every time. I think that's what people like too, and I get that a lot. That's why I named it Authentic, because I brought out everything I had in my heart. On this project, there is a beautiful ambivalence of themes, whether it is love, the ups and downs of a relationship, or even heartbreak, not to mention songs like "S.O.S" or "Je Te Promets" which are genuine songs addressing serious issues. How did you find this fine balance? I wanted to evolve and really offer something new compared to the previous album. I didn't want to sound redundant. We climb the ladder step by step but nevertheless we move forward, we don't hover and I needed some new inspiration, something new. This album is versatile, it's eclectic, and I needed that to be honest.
When you first started the album, did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to do, or did you think "I have nothing to lose, I'll experiment everything"? For my first album, I was under a kind of pressure where I was told that I should follow a guideline not to confuse my audience, so I kept on this rather urban side. And then I said to myself : "Come on, I'm going to do what I want to do. If I want to write a variety of songs, I'll do it. If it's an electro thing, I'll do that too". I'm like that, I go by instinct, in the moment. I enjoyed making this album, just like that, without D.A. Today I just found out that "Mal De Toi" is n°1 on Shazam, it's an amazing thing! It's so great to see that taking a risk was the right thing to do because I'm rewarded.
''Artist or not, we have to face many things in life and we must help others as long as we have this power.'' Something I found really cute on this album is the track "1,2,3" where you yourself said that you wanted to come up with a kind of nursery rhyme because it's a music that is easy to remember and above all that you wanted to reach out to children. Where did you get this idea? I always have this child-like side in me. I might find myself on a manhunt with my friends tomorrow or playing hide and seek. At the end of my release party, we were running around popping balloons... I'm 26 years old and my friends are in their thirties you know... (laughs) Truthfully, I mostly took into account the fact that I have a huge community of young kids listening to my music, so it's important not to keep them out of the loop. And it's mostly me playing around, it's a risk I wanted to take. Many people have understood the entire album except for this track. Yet I wanted to give this song a trendy touch in terms of tones that everyone can enjoy: both adults and youngsters. I think that what comes out the most of the album is this concept of mutual respect. Whether it's in "Paris" where you say "My life is not yours, yours is not mine", or in "Alors C'est Ça La Vie" with "Everyone is a victim of people's views and opinions". Is this one of the themes that you wanted to put forward?
Yes, totally. In each of my albums, I always want to convey a message. My influences when I was younger were Wallen, Kayna Samet, and without knowing them personally at the time, I felt like they were big sisters. For example with Kayna, through her lyrics she always conveyed preventive messages. You could feel her being protective of her audience. And me, this is what I want to pass on to my audience. That's why every time, I instill through my music, respect, values, principles. Speaking of things that are important to you, we could say that you are very much committed in combating harassment. It seems to be an important cause for you... Indeed, I believe that it is important to start with this one because harassment affects a lot of people, I myself have lived it. I wanted to be the spokesperson for these people who are afraid to speak up. I know that it was a kind of "therapeutic song" because I had a lot of feedback on that. We have to understand that we are victims and we can't feel guilty for what happens to us. You have to talk about it because if you don't talk about it, no one is going to help you. I thought to myself, "Being a public figure and having exposure, if I can extend my message, help people, etc. I owe it to myself to do so." That's why I wanted to talk about it, I wanted to help them. Making music is great, and exciting too, but there's more to life than that. Do you think that the role of an artist is also a commitment? Totally! Artist or not, we have to face a lot of things in life, and we have to help the others as long as we have this power. It's free and it makes a good deed. Speaking of the feedback you had about this song, how did you manage all this? It must not be easy to be confronted with so many powerful stories... At first, I have to say that you feel kind of uncomfortable in the sense of thinking "Shit, how can I find the words to answer that". Very often people go into details about what happened to them, and then, the fact that you don't know the person intimately, you can't be so straightforward with everyone. I try to take it easy. On another level, it moves me because these people probably have never seen me in person but still felt a certain degree of trust in me and decided to share their feelings with me. And that's a feeling I can't explain to you, it's a great feeling. When I look back at their feedback, I say to myself "This really helps and I owe it to myself to play this part". As long as I have the opportunity, I will do it.
Whether it's in this project or in your first album entitled Femme Forte, we feel 100% of the emotions that you convey and in your voice, a will to move mountains. Where does all this determination come from? I come from a family of two older sisters and one older brother, my parents were shopkeepers and my mother always instilled in me this "hard-working" spirit. In life you don't get something for free. When I was younger, I used to look at my mother and admire her, I used to say to myself "She manages everything... Later I want to be like that". Same thing with my sisters, we have an easy way of doing things in the family. When you come from the hoods, you're much more easily singled out than in other, more privileged neighborhoods, so you have no choice but to make your own way. I don't really have to prove anything to people, but unfortunately, when you come from the hood, you have to do twice as much. That's where this hunger to succeed comes from.
''If you come to see me in concert, you'll get your money's worth! I'll bring the States to France!'' Speaking about its opposite, in "Ciao", you mention exactly what turns you away from the path of success... The first thing is the ego. We all have it in us and to me personally speaking it's a flaw. If you work with ego, you won't get anywhere. You will always meet people who will disrespect you, put you down, lie to you... It's all about manipulation and if someone gets inside your brain, you're dead. What you have to do is listen to yourself.
and I immediately replied: "Bro, it's not the first of April, don't fool around with me". At the end, it wasn't a joke. (laughs) It's a crazy thing, when I was younger I listened to her songs, it's one of my musical influences, and today I'm working with her. She greeted me with a lot of kindness, I felt like I was protected by a big sister. I was so impressed, she just does everything! She taped my participation and so on, she shared with me her tips and tricks, she put me at ease, it was incredible! As for Bramsito, we had already met and said we would do something together. This guy is a killer, he's super talented! I really enjoyed working with him and if you want a scoop he's even crazier than me! I think you already knew Jok'Air? Yeah, we already worked together on a project for Nike. I knew his team, his brother, all that. What amazed me with Jok'Air was his work method. Actually he doesn't write on paper or phone, he comes into the booth and he just comes out with a verse. I was really surprised! We all have our own styles and approaches to writing. (laughs) I heard that you took singing and dancing lessons... That's the premium package of the artist! See that! We're going international! (laughs) I really try to be a complete artist! I only took four singing classes, I've never had singing classes before, and I found it amazing how a bit of technique can change a lot of things! Dancing is something I did when I was a kid with the girls back home, it was always something I loved. It goes hand in hand with music I think. I intend to use it on stage! If you come to see me in concert, you'll get your money's worth! (laughs) I'll bring the States to France!
Words © Fanny Hill Scott Photography © Coralie Waterlot
There are several feats on the project including Zaho, Bramsito, Thabiti and Jok'Air. Can you tell me about these collaborations? First Zaho called me through my producer and he said: "She wants you on one of her songs"
04/2022 © Panenka Music The rapper from Roubaix has long been a part of the French Rap rookies for a time that’s now revolute: Bekar is on the main stage now. Bekar just launched the sequel of his EP MIRA : MIRASIERRA. He explained is choice on Instagram: "Mirasierra is the name of the neighborhood where I was born in Madrid, it also means "look at the mountain" in Spanish. It’s also an allegory that I like because we’re always facing an obstacle to climb." Let's get to the heart of the project: musically what does it sound like? The nine additional tracks are relatively varied and it’s fabulous. I appreciate a lot the fact that each track is different and has its own universe. The transition between "La branche" and "59db" pleasantly surprised me. "59db" which is also featuring his Roubaix sidekick: ZKR. The track is clearly a tribute to their city that they describe in the best way. The second guest of MIRASIERRA is Captaine Roshi... what a pleasure! The two artists gave us a high-level performance! As I like to say: the guest respected and honoured the invitation. MIRASIERRA is - as you can imagine - a project that I really enjoyed, particularly "DEHØRS". The lyrics, prods, feats, topics... have totally made sense to me. From now on, we can only wait for one thing: the long-awaited first album of BE. We also wish a bright future for the artist and his music.
01/2022 © 3.14 Production
04/2022 © Malvado
Perfectionist could be the adjective to best describe Jazzy Bazz. Member of Grande Ville and L’Entourage, two eminent music collectives, Jazzy is a 32year-old rapper from the 19th district of Paris.
Known for being a member of the groups Panama Bende or Tontons Flingueurs, Lesram, the 24-yearold rapper just launch his mixtape Wesh Enfoiré and we can say that’s a massive success! Talented kicker since his beginnings, he impresses with his raw punchlines and his melancholic flow.
Memoria his fourth album is quite a good example of what he loves to cherish. No boundaries, no limits. Just doing things right. Sense, rhythmic, you can feel his talent, hard work and precision through his lyrics. he has real ease to put down his words: fast and naturally. His flow is robotic and mechanical because of how easy it sounds but still, Memoria stays deeply poetic and human: true evidence of his abilities. My favourite tracks on the project are "Zone 19" with EDGE, ".Raw Spleen" with Laylow, "P-Town Blues" and "Cœur, Conscience". The different songs are homogenous with a few exceptions stepping aside from the tracklist while still being Jazzy’s signature. "Sablier" is one of them. Smooth with more space for melody and singing. The six feats of the seventeen tracks add texture to the project and create an opening for other musical worlds. Memoria is full of technique, rareness and futuristic vibes while still sounding like a timeless classic. Quality hits us at every listening session. It reminds us of the modest prestige of belonging to L’Entourage and last but not least, of being such a master in the art of rapping.
© Louise OH
Wesh Enfoiré is a10 tracks mixtape including two feats – well-chosen if I can say – with Alpha Wann (the close friend artist since his beginnings in the Rap industry) and his sidekick PLK (from the group Panama Bende too). This is where you realize that when an artist works with a friend... the result is impressive! In this opus, the prods’ choice and the themes are multiple: family, friends, money issues, conflicts, his hood in 93... Multiple but always with remarkable lyric ease. I’ve always appreciated Lesram for this Rap atmosphere. He manages to rap about things we've already heard million times but succeeds in sublimating it with his pen and flow. The sound "Cnn" perfectly supports my opinion: a melancholic production with a kicked flow where the artist opens up about his life and his family. I also appreciated a lot the track "Seum", it’s truly well-written and we feel perfectly his sincerity. In brief, this project reflects the artist and his different Rap skills on a high level. Lesram proved once again that he masters his art and that he can keep surprising us. We’re ready for the next project!
Couleur de ma peine
SO LA LUNE
02/2022 © Black Palladium Music / Bendo Music
05/2022 © Low Wood
“The colour of my sorrow”. This is the english translation for “Couleur de ma peine”, Zamdane’s very first album. One tone, one mood, thousands of variations. Of emotions, following the long path of bitterness. Smooth but painful, honest but creative, this album tells us about the author’s journey. Bam! Painful start. “Tout ce qu’il voulait” is the first track of the project, first story, first knife struck in the middle of our hearts. As speaking about someone else, watching himself from another side of his existence Zamdane tells us how he got to where he is today. Somewhere safer? Better? Who knows. Different for sure! There are many parts we like about this record. It’s wonderfully well written. Which can be surprising when knowing Zamdane’s mother tongue is not French. He has been speaking it for several years now living in Marseille. He writes in French and Arabic. Ayoub, his birth name means “the one who turns back towards God”. He does. This project is also about faith, especially in “Lettre à mon dieu”. When struggling against tough times, tough situations, losses, death, he prays harder and comes back. Stronger? Not really. Alive though. This is what matters, right? Keep going, growing from past mistakes. That’s how this album sounds to us.
© Louise OH
Fissure de vie
If we had to talk about a rising star in French Rap these last 2 years, it would be impossible to miss the phenomenon So La Lune. His voice and his melodies they stay in our heads. It’s also important to note his constant activity in terms of releases since 2020. The quantity is there, certainly, but what about the quality? From my point of view, each projects were successful. This allowed the artist to see what is liked by his audience. This album was very expected by the public. I personally really appreciated the effort of diversification in the prods and flows. Of course, the recipe remains the same since his past projects but isn't it for this reason that we appreciate So La Lune? His universe carries us away from the beginning of the album. The first track “Soleil Mourant” is a form of risky bet as we’re not used to see him on this kind of sound but it’s a frank success. The track “Déconnecté” also shows evidence of what I’m saying: the artist left his comfort zone while keeping the same codes that he knows how to rule. Fissure de Vie is a project more than great. Indeed, So La Lune had to confirm his rise in the French Rap game where it’s competitive and he truly did it in the most beautiful way with this album. We have no doubt that his future projects now!
MADEINPARIS 03/2022 Les Étoiles, Paris, France
MadeInParis: a complete artist! I had the honour of meeting MadeInParis on his first solo Parisian date on March 24, 2022 at Les Étoiles where only a few days after the announcement, the concert was already sold out. It’s safe to say that the fans were waiting for this event. From his real name, Dave Wayne – a.k.a MadeInParis – is a rapper, singer, composer, photographer, graphic designer, director and a sound engineer, that’s definitely a lot of strings to his bow. The young prodigy has worked with the greatest artists, notably Aya Nakamura, on the “Djadja” world hit. He finally decided to launch his own solo career with his first mixtape in 2019 called Dopamine Effect. What about this incredible concert? MadeInParis has offered us a quality tracklist with fleshy melodies up to tripping sounds like “Baby” feat Squidji or “Sentiments”. We even had the surprise of seeing Captaine Roshi on stage for the song “Champagne”. No doubt that the atmosphere in the concert room was at its peak. A few weeks before the concert, he released his first album entitled Voulez-vous Couchez Avec Moi ? composed of 15 tracks with quality feats like the one with Luidji on “PornStar Martini” or Lestin on “Jeu Dangereux”. In short, MadeInParis really smashed it with this gig, full of surprises and deep feelings. Actually, we already ask for more, we even want more!
Words © Gloria Dominiak-Gorski // Illustration © Tiffany Oger
MohA MmZ 15
Sweet, kind and sincere, these are some of the adjectives that could be used to describe Moha, one of the much loved members of the QLF Family. Although he has always been known alongside Lazer in their group MMZ, Moha has now taken off on his own and we must say that he's doing well. The 23 year old artist managed to create his own universe without changing the person he has always been and who has always charmed his fans. From his real name Mohamed, he never fails to pay tribute to the neighborhood where he grew up and where he took his first steps as a solo artist: one of the most famous neighborhoods of French Rap: Tarterêt in Corbeil-Essonne in the Parisian suburbs. In this interview with A Rap & A Cup Of Tea, Moha reveals everything he wanted to share with Euphoria and all the passion he put into this first solo album. Euphoria is without a doubt a complete and polished work, worthy of Moha's talent. We can't wait to see what the future holds for him.
What made you want to go solo? It was a new challenge. We already had 3 albums plus a re-release and this idea came naturally. I've been rapping for such a long time and I started solo so it's a bit like going back to my roots. Starting a solo project has always been a challenge but also a dream. Even if I did a lot of things with MMZ, I really wanted to share what was important to me personally in a project.
In "Mon Bébé" you say "I've always had a lot of inspiration", did the fact of having complete artistic freedom while being solo help you develop your creativity even more? Yeah big time! When you're solo it's all about what you want, everything I wanted to do I did. Whether it's the choice of the album title, the cover, the tracks, the collaborations with beatmakers, the videos... it's all me. When you're two, it's two different choices, so not necessarily the same desires etc.. But there are also some drawbacks in that it's easier when there are two of you to deal with things, whether it's success or hardship. And most importantly, it's always better to enjoy it together. (laughs)
Have you already thought about what you wanted to do as a solo artist or did you just go by instinct? To be honest, it all came naturally. I wasn't afraid though. I was confident in what I was going to do. I knew it was going to be good, and I knew it was going to be brilliant. When you're confident things seem easier.
'' We did a lot of things with MMZ but I really wanted to share what was important to me personally in a project.''
How were you feeling before the release of your album? Frankly, I wasn't stressed... Well, maybe I'm a liar, maybe I was a little stressed. (laughs) The truth is, I wasn't afraid of it coming out, I was like "This is it, it's out, I did my best, I can't have regrets". I really gave the best of myself on the tape, the merchandising, the choice of the sound engineer, the promo, the cover etc. I have no regrets and that's what I wanted.
Being listed on TimeSquare's Billboard, isn't that great as an artist? Absolutely, especially since we're independent! There are only two of us in my label: me and my manager. We created this on our own, by ourselves, for ourselves. (laughs) It's symbolic really, it's a way to achieve a "big" thing because it's my first solo album and I wanted to do something special but also to thank the people who supported me. It doesn't matter how many are there, it was a gift to say "Look, it doesn't matter how many we are, we're up there too, not just the big guys can make it". Just like for "Paranoïack" music video, since it was my first solo video, I wanted to do something big.
Why did you choose to film "Paranoiack" music video in Arizona? I wanted to create a western! The studio was either in the States or in Spain. And it was important for me to go to the United States. Actually, it was amazing, we worked with a big production company. The extras were real actors and stuff. You know, a bit of American delirium? (laughs) It was crazy!
I think you tried a lot of different melodic and flow genres on the album, for example on "Mode" or "Omertà" where the tracks are totally different. Was it a challenge to show that you could handle all kinds of flows? Not really! In fact it came naturally. Your mood changes every day and I find it quite complicated to do the same thing again... Actually, I see a lot of artists doing the same thing and I always say to myself: "How do they do it?" (laughs) My mood today is not the same as it was yesterday. Sometimes I go through moments of nostalgia, sadness, joy... A lot of things happen in your life, and since I' m a guy who follows his instincts a lot... it led to this result. (laughs)
Also in the album there are only 2 featuring: DTF and Zed from 13 Block. Was this your intention to really emancipate yourself and show what you do as a solo artist? With MMZ we didn't have any featurings or very few, so if I had done a lot of featurings I would have been cancelled by my fanbase. I like to do things step by step. It's easy to do featuring to get big artists on your project but you become a "featurings artist" and I don't want that. You no longer exist as an artist. In fact, I was offered feats on my album, and I told them "No, it's my first album, leave me alone" (laughs). The day we will do a featuring, I want to bring you as much as you bring to the project.
You and Zed have a lot in common... Totally! Zed was always the melodious one in his group and so was I with MMZ, I did a lot of the choruses. I come from Tarterêts in 91 and he from Sevran in 93. [Two districts in Parisian suburbs] We are part of the two biggest districts in our respective departments, so we already understand each other on that point. It was a natural thing to do. I think that for a first collaboration outside of QLF members like DTF, he was the one that best suited me, I couldn't ask for anything better. If I do a feat with someone it's because there is a part of him that is QLF too. [ed. Refers to "que la famille". A movement launched by PNL, one of the leading groups of French Rap also originating from Tarterêts].
'' Tarterêts is 100% part of my history. The hood holds a big place in my heart.''
We can feel throughout the album the tribute to Tarterêts, how important is it to pay tribute to your neighborhood? Very important. Tarterêts is 100% part of my history. The neighborhood holds a big place in my heart. It's where I spend my whole life, for me it's not even an option, it's natural, it's obvious, it's just the way it is. Is there a song that stands out for you on this album? One where you really feel like you gave everything you had to give. For sure, all songs reflect the person I am. There are some songs that are a bit more introspective like "Bagatelle", the last song of the album, where I talk a bit more about my feelings, so it's a bit more melancholic, sad. When you tackle topics like that, it's a bit more personal for sure.
Can you tell me more about the symbolism behind the name of your album? Euphoria refers to the feeling I had when I was 17 and started making music and it was taking off: I was euphoric. Since that day, this euphoria has never stopped. Euphoria in fact is excitement, joy etc., but it's only temporary. That's why I didn't want my album to have a name that only means joy. That's not the truth. When it works you're euphoric and when it falls down you're nostalgic and sometimes sad but in the end it's all temporary. And that's exactly what I wanted to convey. Would you say it's an extra pressure to be part of the QLF family? Yes and no. Of course, as it's a very strong community, I don't want to disappoint them, but I originally make music to enjoy the process of making it. I don't look for people to approve or disapprove of what I'm doing. I make music for me first, because I like it. What was the hardest thing to achieve in this album? Putting everything together in a meaningful way. It's not that easy to find the actual direction to make it all fit together. The cover has to fit the title, the titles have to fit the sounds etc... That's how you create a universe. You can do feats with everybody, you will always be considered the little one if you do it wrong. I think that every aspect is important: the choice of the gimmicks, the titles, the cover of the album, the intro, the sequence of the tracks. Naturally it's a bit tough, but towards the end I said to myself: "That's it, I've done it". It was important to have a consistent universe for my very first solo album.
Words © Fanny Hill Scott Photography © Yonatan Griffon
The Team's Favourite 21
Van's The reason why I chose this project is that it’s a discovery I didn’t expect. I used to listen to Nekfeu a lot in 2015-2016. He often used to shout out bands like “S-Crew” or “5 Majeur” - which I already knew - but I never heard of the “Panama Bende”. Naturally, I became interested in it and I noticed that each group member had their own style and I was directly hooked. I was even more curious to know if some of them had also started solo careers. And then, bingo! I came across PLK and saw that the music video “Ténébreux” was released a few days before and he was also preparing a project of the same name for September 2017. The story could have ended there… But I really liked the project! I loved every track and discovered an artist with many facets and incredible talent. I did a real propaganda around me by saying that this guy was bound to break through because of his talent and that the next projects were going to leave their mark on French Rap. A few years later, it’s finally done! His latest album ENNA is certified triple platinum and the number of listeners is constantly growing. Ténébreux’s project will certainly be gold-certified in the following months… What will be for me, a small form of victory to see the project of which I spoke so much becoming a gold record - and to finally join the great ones' mixtape!
Playlist Disiz x Archibald Smith B.B. Jacques
Bigflo & Oli
Aya Nakamura x Damso
“Comme La Lune”
Drawings © Gabriel Dominiak
No need to introduce Kalash, this versatile artist with millions of streams and views, is known throughout the world and especially in the Caribbean and in France where his career is constantly evolving. Here for A Rap & A Cup Of Tea, the man also known as "Mwaka Boss" talks about his career, his new album Tombolo and his affiliation with Damso. With this magnificent album rich in meaning and significance, Kalash once again defies the rules with a versatile musical project. From Shatta Dancehall, to Rap and Urban, the Martinique-born artist shows us once again the depth of his talents. Cool, honest and sincere, Kalash talks in detail about his musical inspirations and what makes him swing. No doubt, the artist who knows how to make the whole world dance never stops reinventing himself, and especially reinventing French Rap Your new album Tombolo is truly full of all music genres. It is in fact more Dancehall than the previous one. Were you looking to go back to your first love with this type of music? It's true that I had already released some singles, but in a big album, well elaborated, I wanted to highlight this kind of music. I love Dancehall, Shatta, Reggae, West Indian trap... The purpose was to put in a real big project what influences me the most. The song "Laptop" featuring Maureen is a typical Shatta track. Was it because you wanted to make your audience in France discover sounds they don't know? Yes, I wanted to. Mainly because I know that this style has a real potential in France and in Europe. And now, I feel that Shatta is slowly making its way in France, so I'm happy to bring forward both this style of music and the artists who make it live. And I really think that this style of music will continue. By the way, your featuring with Fanny J, the crowd was expecting Zouk and that's not what happened to our greatest surprise. Maybe you wanted to take the fans by surprise? Well, I actually wrote the song, and a few weeks later I thought of asking Fanny for a feat, as I had already met her in Guyana. But straight away, if I had wanted to
make a sound with Fanny, I wouldn't have gone for Zouk Love. That's what fans were expecting, I wanted to surprise, to make a change. And even for her, I wanted her to enjoy it and to try something different than usual. Coming back to your featuring, you have brought together a dream cast with artists like Damso, Hamza, Fanny J, Gazo, Prince Swanny... Where did you get the idea to have a cast as diverse and varied as you go from Fanny J to Damso and still keep it together? To be honest, it was all about having fun! There were no sales plans or marketing strategies, we all just had fun. Sometimes I would say "Oh I see him there, or her here" I did a bit like DJ Khaled you know, having international artists like Damso and more local artists like Kima. I think it's cool to put them on the same album without there being a difference in terms of experience. Everyone is entitled to be on this album.
''There are at least 10 in the top rappers to whom I said no for feat requests because I don't like their vibe or I don't see a reason to collaborate.''
Can you tell me about your affiliaton with Damso? Basically with Damso, we had recorded a song together and the next day I asked him to come back to the studio and that's when I made him listen to a solo song called "I Love You". And from there, he wanted me to play it a few times, and he started writing a verse. He really wanted to be part of the song, though it wasn't originally planned at all. So I rewrote my part so that he could sing on it. There are many things that are not planned but happen by instinct. So was it obvious for you to make a new song with him? If we weren't such good friends, I don't think I would have invited Damso back. We might have recorded a song like
"Mwaka Moon" and that's it. Whereas now it makes total sense to send him a feat proposal when I'm working on an album. We have songs together that we haven't even played yet and we'll see if we can keep them or not. I like him, he's a really cool guy. Besides, he was in the middle of a break, he had not been back in a studio for a long time and he told me "Let's go and have a studio session" even though he wasn't supposed to. So when creating a project, you don't establish barriers with a particular guideline in mind? No, not at all. I actually prefer it when an artist tells me "Oh no, I don't see it that way anymore, I'd rather do this, etc". It shows that he also feels concerned by this song. I like it when we make a song that can fit in our two different universes, whether it's his album or mine. If we have a feat, it's not just to fulfill a "request for feats", it's also because I like the artist most importantly. For you, is human connection the most important thing? Oh yes, for sure. If I don't like what you're doing, the vibe you're giving off, I'll say no right away. There are a lot of big rappers, at least 10 in the "Top Rappers" to whom I said no for feat requests because I don't like their vibe or I don't see a reason to collaborate. Can you tell me more about the meaning of Tombolo? Tombolo is someone who talks about a rough time, a dark period, and how they were saved by someone or something. It refers to someone who saw something that others couldn't or wouldn't see. Somebody who paid attention, who actually observed what was going on in life. For example, you can say to yourself: "He's rich, he's got money, he's got fans" but in reality he's waiting to be saved. Is there also a religious aspect, a bond with Sainte-Marie de Martinique? Indeed, it is related to the Tombolo of Sainte-Marie. Tombolo is also a sandy path that appears only 4 months, at least here in Martinique, and in April, it disappears. It is the symbolism of something that appears and then disappears abruptly. It defines me well I guess. Once it's done, it's done. And then there is also this mistic aspect, the religious side of Sainte-Marie, which is a very strong religious and spiritual environment and that I have always seen as such.
Was it important for you to bring out this part of you that is religious? To be honest, it was natural, and it was mostly the right time. When life throws you curveballs, when you grow up, etc., you start moving towards wisdom, towards the spiritual aspect of life. Some people get closer to nature, to their family... You're not 23 anymore and you're not that little idiot anymore. (laughs) So you start to think about more serious things, less ephemeral. I used to think of buying a luxury car, a Rolex... But now it's not something I look forward to anymore.
I recorded for the album, and when we recorded it we said "That's it, we have the name for the album ". That's how it came about. I also think it defines my music, bridging an island to a continent, several lands inhabited by human beings.
''If I want to, I can rap like other rappers do, but these rappers can never do what I do.''
Has it always been a strength to come from Martinique or do you find it harder to assert yourself in Metropolitan France? It's always harder to impress in France when you come from the islands. Normally, after a song like "Mwaka Moon" you should already have your name engraved in the French Rap scene, whereas I feel like I always have to do it again, to show that I exist. For example, people say "Kalash is back in 2022" when I released a song 6 months ago... People think I was gone when I never left. Maybe because my songs are less featured in the media, because they're not understood...
As a matter of fact, "Masterclass" is one of the strongest tracks of the album, you address the criticisms you received, you talk about religion, politics etc... I had the impression that you were setting the record straight... Yes, every sentence is there to address a point, and at the same time, I show that if I want to, I can rap like other rappers do, but these rappers can never do what I do. It's like when Italians say "Va'fanciullo". (laughs) Whether it's the singing parts, the vocals, the stage performance, all that... All the stuff that I see, that I do and that a lot of artists that I went to see on stage can't do. It's not mean, but they just can't match it. It's a good way to acknowledge your skills and be proud of them. What's the most significant song in your eyes on this album? Tombolo without hesitation. Because you can identify, God, a man or woman who saved you. You can identify the savior that you picked, or whom you are related to. And that's also why I named the album that way. It's the last track
Do you find that your audience in the mainland is different from the one in the Caribbean? Yes, for sure there's an audience that's less interested in songs like "Everybody Falla" with Bounty Killer. But I think that songs like "My Life" or "Tombolo" tackling more serious matters, more sad, etc. will touch people in the same way because it's a more universal message.
You said you had the feeling of having several careers in one, having made your breakthrough in the West Indies long before making it in France. Can you tell me more about that? I probably had at least 5 careers! I started with a sound system career, then freestyling in the street, a new career with my first hit that was played at parties, then the hit "Mama" that introduced me to young people and parents... Then, there was another milestone with songs like "Rouge Et Bleu" in feat with Booba... So each time it's like I was a new artist for people, each time I started from scratch, even in interviews I used to get asked "Hello, what's your name?" Things have changed now. (laughs)
Words © Fanny Hill Scott Photography © Koria
INTERNATI USA x France
Young Thug x Dosseh “Milliers D’Euros”
Paluch x T “BRATV
Nigeria x France Davido x Dadju “Nous”
D.R. Congo x France Fally Ipupa x MHD “Na Lingui Yé”
Italy x France
Capo Plaza x Ninho “Billets”
Morad x J “Toda La
Tovaritch VA IX”
Great Britain x France Headie One x Gazo “22 Carats”
Morocco x France ElGrandeToto x Lefa “Ailleurs”
Mali x France Sidiki Diabaté x Niska “Oh Bella Ciao”
Jul x Naps a Noche”
Great Britain x France BJ The Chicago Kid x Nekfeu “Rouge À Lèvre” Illustration © Emilia Smolka
Who's hiding behind the name Cinco, this rapper from Choisy-Le-Roi in the Parisian suburbs of the 94, from the new generation of French-speaking rappers? A Rap & A Cup Of Tea met this ambitious, confident and forward-looking rapper. From his singularity in the French Rap scene by being a pioneer of Mumble Rap in France to his inspirations and his incredible musical affiliation with Josman, Cinco tells us everything. This diverse and versatile rapper talks openly about his new album entitled Sacrifices. How would you describe your unique style in French Rap? I'm the first French rapper to introduce Mumble Rap! I used to do raw rapping, I used to articulate and everything and in 2018, a certain vibe started to spread where American rappers were no longer articulating their words. I really liked that vibe so I tried to do the same thing in French. Some people liked it, others didn't... But overall it was a success. At the beginning of your album, in your intro, you give a kind of "warning"... To be honest, I always knew that this song would be the intro of the project. I always knew I was going to use it exactly like that because I heard rumors that some rappers were copying me... That's why in the intro I say "stop comparing me". But what I'm telling you here, it also happened in 2019, it's not something that happened today, you know. That's why I say that in the intro, otherwise there's nothing, it's all good. (laughs) You named your album "Sacrifices", it bears a lot of meaning... It's true. There were a lot of sacrifices to make, especially to get this project out. In everything you do, you're going to make sacrifices. To succeed, it's really these sacrifices that help you get to the next level. A lot of things happened to me, I actually decided to quit music... I know that in order for me to keep going, I had to make sacrifices. That's really the word that fits the project's philosophy. Indeed, in "Level" you speak truth upon truth. Is it important for you to convey universal truths to people? Of course it is. Rap used to be about "delivering a message". Now it's different, for sure, but I like to still convey messages. Whether they're happy or sad, I always bring something. It's important to do that.
Is there a song where you feel you have given an important message? In this project, I really like "Level" because it's where I speak up the most. There are also songs like "Patchak" or "Rue D'ATL" that I like. Well, I don't convey a great message in this last one but I like this song because it makes me think about things in my life. We, rappers have a real power. We can speak and be heard, you know? And if we don't, it's kind of tough... A lot of people don't know that there's a lot of shit going on. To alert, to expose, that's kind of our job.
'' I'm the first French rapper to introduce Mumble Rap.'' Was it important for you to show that you could handle all types of prods? Yeah, I've always tried to do that on all my projects. I make music you know, I always try and experiment with new things. Also, I tried to keep it diverse so I wouldn't get pigeonholed but we did it anyway. I think people don't listen to me and say "he's got good lyrics", they see me more as a guy who makes bangers. And it's a shame, because if you sit back a bit you'll see that what I write is actually great. Regarding the featurings, there are big names on the project. Didn't it put pressure on you to have artists like Tiakola, Franglish or Josman for example? Actually, it's kind of a plus. It will push some people who wouldn't have laid eyes or ears on my music to do so. It's not a big pressure because the songs are good, I'm proud of them, the guys I worked with too. It makes me pleased that more famous and mainstream guys come to work with guys like me, it's a real pleasure.
Do you have any anecdotes about these encounters? Honestly, of all the collaborations made on this album, everything went smoothly with everyone. But with Josman it was up a notch. I couldn't figure out what happened. (laughs) It took us a while to come up with the instrumental, maybe two hours or something like that, but once it was done... (laughs) We recorded the song really fast. Plus, it's a just like magic, as soon as he came out of the booth I'd go in and so on. We really gave it our all. Of all the guys I got close to, it was with him that it clicked the best. Do you think it's because your worlds are the most similar? I know we don't all have the same ability to find words easily. Some will write good lyrics in 2 hours, others in 5 minutes. Me and Josman, on that particular aspect, we are a bit the same. That's why it went so fast. Because as soon as I said the first sentence, it was on, we were already flying. (laughs) If you had carte blanche to collaborate with an artist, who would it be with? You won't believe me if I tell you. (laughs) I started Rap because of Lil Wayne, he's my favorite rapper. But I don't want to say Lil Wayne, that would be too easy. On my mother's life, I would choose Justin Timberlake! (laughs) I already know that out song would be incredible. What can we wish you for the future? I got asked this question yesterday, I said "I need to be wished an Urus, with a lot of people on tour, every day in concert, and a lot of money." (laughs) No need to have good health, just success and a lot of money! (laughs)
Words © Fanny Hill Scott Photography © Koria
the team 35
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