The Evolution of French Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture in the 1980s and 1990s

by André J. M. Prévos
The Evolution of French Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture in the 1980s and 1990s
André J. M. Prévos
The French Review
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The Evolution of French Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture in the 1980s and 1990s

by Andrl J. M.Prlvos

THE IMPACT OF RAP MUSIC AND HIP HOP CULTURE in the United States and the subsequent cultural consequences have been well documented by researchers (Rose 219-27). Since new cultural American forms have often influenced the popular cultures of other countries (Bertrand and Bordat), the influence of rap music and hip hop culture in the contemporary popular cultures is also evident, in France as well as in other European countries. In earlier essays (Prevos 1986,1993), I have documented, cata- logued, and underlined some salient features of French rap but was unable to explore the more "ideological" side of French rappers. This was primarily because of a delay between what I will call the "adopting" period and the "adapting" period. The present essay will deal with the three steps which have marked the evolution of rap music and hip hop culture in France in the 1980s and 1990s: their arrival in France in the early 1980s, their adoption by popular artists from varied musical and social backgrounds and, finally, their adaptation by composers and per- formers to French societal and popular environments.'

The arrival ofrap music and hip hop culture in France

There is a long tradition of American cultural influence in France (La- lanne 48). The 1920s and 1930s were marked by the discovery of jazz by French enthusiasts. American tunes-some brought by GIs during the Second World War-remained popular into the 1950s until the arrival of rock-and-roll which overpowered French popular music, from Cora Vaucaire to Juliette Greco or from Eddie Constantine or Henri Salvador to Georges Brassens or Leo Ferre (Rioux 91-139) during the second half of the decade. The American folk revival of the 1960s and the disco wave of the 1970s also left traces in French popular musical productions (Prevos 1991). The 1980s were marked by successive changes brought on by movements from other European countries (punk from Great Britain) or from America (disco, hard rock, "charity music," etc.) as well as by a development of original French popular styles (nouvelle chanson, "French rock" like that of A. Bashung, alternative music such as that of Birurier Noir). French and Francophone rap (the term "French rap" used here covers these two notions) also fall into the new musical categories which emerged during the 1980s.

The years 1982-1983 mark the first recording of French rap. On the back side of Fab Freddy's 12" 45-rpm issued in New York City in 1982, there was a song in French: "Change de Beat" by B-Side who later recorded a 12" under her own name (Dufresne 135). In 1982, a group of American rappers toured Europe (with a few dates in France) and helped to intro- duce the style to new aficionados (Beckman and Adler 17). In October, the French newspaper Libe'ration ran a series of articles about New York rappers and their lifestyles (Thibodat 21). That same year, the French group Chagrin d'Amour recorded a long-playing album whose songs, all in French, were clearly inspired by rap techniques. The instant popular- ity of the group attracted the attention of amateurs who, even today, con- sider the group (Chagrin dfAmour) as the first example of French rap on a long-playing record.

The unexpected success by an almost unknown group was seen as both a positive factor and a disadvantage by younger rappers primarily from the northern suburbs of Paris. First, they were glad to see that rap, which they knew already, was gaining acceptance. Secondly, they were discon- certed because they feared that Chagrin dfAmour's innocuous rhymes would be seen as a new norm which would force them to modify their own lyrics. Other French popular artists of the early 1980s used rap tech- niques in their recordings but they did not see themselves as the origina- tors of a new style. The group Les Garcons Bouchers recorded two versions of their "Rap des Garcons Bouchers" (1989, 1991) whose style is close to other recordings of the group but which nevertheless features "rapped" lyrics and a sampling of French-style musette accordion music. The French comic group Les lnconnus recorded a popular sketch in which they imi- tated young French bourgeois attempting to imitate French rappers (1991); Manu Dibango, well-known for his recording of "Soul Makossa," also turned to rap for several recordings (Montaigne 24).

Nowadays, the suburbs of Paris form a succession of residential neigh- borhoods, some of them made up of high-rise apartment buildings, a component of the government-subsidized popular housing administra- tion. Some of these places, the northern suburbs in particular, have become hotbeds of violence, drugs, crime, and poverty. They have come to be seen as desolate neighborhoods where the anti-social, the crimi- nally-minded, the poor, and others on welfare live in semi desolation, a stereotype reminiscent of the American ghetto.

The French branch of the Zulu Nation was established in one such Parisian neighborhood in the early 1980s by Afrika Bambaataa who had created several such groups in the Bronx section of New York City where gang warfare was much more violent than in France (Louis and Prinaz 170). Bambaataa also used this occasion to showcase his own musical performances (Silvana 82). The Zulu movement in France helped intro- duce both rap music and hip hop culture to youths in the poor suburban neighborhoods of the French capital. These young Smurfs, as the French breakdancers were known, helped popularize the sidewalk dancing styles and, also, the rappers (that is to say thosein charge of the music and, sometimes, accompanying rhymes) who, at first, were secondary to the dancers. In France, the rappers took more time than their American counterparts to emerge as totally independent from breakdancing. Since 1987, the French branch of the Zulu Nation has progressively lost most of its importance; few fictional examples (hardly positive) of the Zulu phe- nomenon have been found (Collard 197-99, Thomas 126)' and, nowa- days, only a few French rappers (Les Little, 1992) claim to promote Bam- baataa's ideals.

It is now clear that rap music and hip hop culture arrived in France through borrowings and transmissions from varied sources. These in- clude mainstream pop artists likeChagrin dtAmour, marginal groups, and followers of Bambaataa and his teachings. The years of existence of the French branch of the Zulu Nation may also be seen as the formative years for French rap which was to explode on the French popular scene later in the 1980s.

Adopting American rap techniques and ideals

Before considering the adoption of American rap by French and Fran- cophone popular artists it is important to underline the fact that French popular music has had a long history of substyles focusing on puns, plays on words, and suggestive phonetic combinations. Examples from this repertoire, some dating from the late nineteenth century, the golden age of the French music-hall era, were recorded as late as the 1970s. Such is the case with "Idylle Philom6nale" recorded by Yves Montand during a live show at the Paris Olympia music hall:

Comme j'ai un chien et une chienne

Qui me viennent d'un Autrichien

Ma p'tite femme qui est vosgienne

Me dit 'pour elever vos chiens

Vous aurez beaucoup de peine

Car au pays transalpin

J'ai connu une Helvetienne

Qu'a jamais pu elever le sien' (1972)

Songs whose lyrics were made almost exclusively of alliterations, ono- matopoeia, and puns were the specialty of the late Bobby Lapointe (whose complete recorded output was issued posthumously) whose "Le Papa du papa" provides such an example:

Le papa du papa du papa de mon papa 
Etait un petit piou piou. 
La maman du papa de mon papa, 
Elle, elle etait nounou. (1972) 

If these songs seldom reached the top of the French charts, they neverthe- less enjoyed a respectable following. A much more popular French sing- er is Charles Trenet, known for his outlandish lyrics (1989), set to bouncy jazz-inspired music. Trenet is recognized today, after a singing career of more than fifty years, as a key member of the so-called "classical French popular repertoire" (Prbvos "French Popular Music"). Prose combat, the title of the latest album by MC Solaar issued in 1994, clearly illustrates the continuity of tradition, all the while adding an identifiable element of social and personal protest.

Produced by Labelle Noir (a subdivision of the Virgin label in 1989), the first anthology of French rap was entitled Rapattitudes-a neologism and a pun combining the name of the new music and the most noticeable characteristic of its performers: their deliberate attitude. Names of groups (Assassin, A.L.A.R.M.E., New Generation MC) were perhaps inspired by the American NWA [Niggers With Attitude] a name which clearly hints at the explicit attitudinizing of its members. The groups fea- tured in Rapattitudes, the spark which started the rap explosion in France, clearly show that they borrowed heavily from their American counter- parts and models. Recordings by SuprGme NTM, Pouppa Claudio & Ragga, Puppa Leslie and Gom Jabbar, show that in their introductions, French MCs imitated American models and, like them, included a good dose of boasting and self-aggrandizement in their rhymes, as in "Rou- leurs 2 l'heure" by the group Sa'i Sai' (Rapattitudes 1989). Claims of "authenticity" on the part of other performers also reminded listeners that the artists saw themselves as part of a tradition adopted in its en- tirety without dilution or "whitewashing."

In songs and albums recorded by French rappers in the late 1980s, sev- eral reproduce themes encountered in recordings of popular American and African-American artists of the period. French rappers likewise ex- press opposition to the social order and to political and economic sys- tems which have led to what they call the "oppression" of minorities (Arab immigrants in particular). French rappers tell about the hardships of everyday life in the poorer suburbs which they often characterize as le ghetto.

Anti-establishment attitudes begin with a criticism of the most evident bodies symbolizing the system (Piot 58). There are lyrics aimed at those who do not see the deepening of a generational conflict, there are more violent and crudely-worded attacks against France, the French Army, and the French public servants (Supreme NTM 1991). French politicians were often presented as "legal crooks" by some performers (Gom Jabbar & Puppa Leslie, 1991) or as members of a political system corrupted by money (SuprEme NTM 1991). Recent scandals involving French high- ranking politicians (the so-called "blood scandal" of the late 1980s in- volving M. Fabius and members of his cabinet when he was Prime Minister; illegal phone wiretaps involving members of the judicial sys- tem investigating other well-known politicians in 1994 and 1995) appear to give credence to criticisms and accusations of corruption encountered in the lyrics of French rappers.

An indirect critique of French society and of its normative forces is also found in the lyrics of songs dealing with the everyday life of the young- sters. The majority of French rappers underline the fact that they live on the fringes of French society. They are kept outside because of forces within the societal mainstream (anti-Arab racism, poverty, police, etc.) or because of their own inability to correct the negative image they project. Calls for unity among performers and, indirectly among their listeners, are often found in the repertoires of French rappers. Such is the case with calls for a nation by IAM (1991), Original MC (1992) and for peace and unity by Lionel D.:

Peace and Unity il fallait comprendre Peace and Unity, il te faut comprendre Et viens te joindre a ceux qui en augmentent le nombre Amour et paix dans ton cwur a l'abri du sombre. (1990)

The political agenda defended by the French movement SOS Racisme was also encountered indirectly in several recordings, including those by Saliha, one of the very few French female rappers (1991). The least attrac- tive activities of some members of the ghetto, drug dealers in particular, also attracted the wrath of French rappers.

By the early years of the 1990s, French rappers had truly covered most of the relevant styles found in the repertoires of their American models, including more commercial styles and less crudely-worded lyrics origi- nally introduced by the group Chagrin dlAmour (1982). Rap artists like Benny B. (1992) in France may be seen as inspired by popular American styles like those of Hammer or even Vanilla Ice.

But, it was also evident, even during the late 1980s, that some French rappers were trying to inject a Gallic ambiance into their recordings. Since most French rappers were of Arabic origins, and since their par- ents had fled Algeria and other North-African countries because of eco- nomic hardships, they could not easily praise Africa in their songs (Phillips 45-72). Also, Afrocentrism could not be included because 1)the French extreme-right would have reminded Arab immigrants that some of them should to go back to Northern Africa (Phillips 105-133), and 2) the rise of Arab fundamentalism in Northern Africa would make it impossible for rappers to replicate their behavior in their native land. The only openly pro-Black-African song encountered during the late 1980s and early 1990s is "Lucy" by B-Love; the performer underlines the fact that the oldest skeleton found by anthropologists is that of a black African woman nicknamed Lucy who, thus, is "the mother of us all" (Rapattitudes2 1992).

Several artists expressed views which were developed in the first half of the 1990s. Humor which, according to the American rapper Ice T, is often present in African-American rap recordings (103), was more evi- dently encountered in French productions. Some artists included puns in their titles; such was the case with "Do the rai' thing" (original title in English), a song by IAM where the allusion to Spike Lee's popular film and to the musical style of Cheb Khaled are brought together:

Cheb Khaled, tu connais au moins?

C'est le Public Enemy arabe, il raconte tout du debut jusqu'a la fin

Du debut jusqu'a la fin, j'te dis

Do the rai' thing, mon frere. (1991)

The late 1980s and the early 1990s marked the end of a period of un- critical adoption of African-American musical styles and repertoires by French rappers. To be sure, some continued to imitate their American counterparts, while others developed either French versions of American models or even invented original French popular ideologies. Three such cases are clearly identifiable today. The first two may be seen as readings or adaptations of American popular ideologies, the last is truly an origi- nal invention by a French rap group.

Towards a new French connection?

French social analysts have argued that, linguistically speaking, French rappers cannot elaborate upon a linguistic invention similar to that of their African-American counterparts. Their dialect of choice (but seldom used exclusively), the so-called verlan, based on an inversion of the phonemes of the original French word, hampers stylistic and phonologi- cal invention owing to its heavy dependence on standard French words (Paquot 106). Both American and French rappers use similar musical techniques and sounds ranging from normal musical instrumental sounds to manipulations, samplings, or distortions of recorded sounds or voices. Musically, however, there is a clearer tendency among French rappers to use stylistic devices associated with reggae and ragamuffin music. In the United States there are only a handful of such artists, most of them asso- ciated with the older forms of American rap, the so-called "New York school." In France, more rappers have branched out into the reggae- ragamuffin musical vein and have developed their own styles based on the Jamaican-inspired music. Among the most widely recognized artists in this group are Daddy Yod (1990, 1991), Sai Sai (1992), and Tonton David (1991). Several from the southeastern part of France, primarily around Marseilles (Le Guilledoux 111), have developed styles incorpo- rating local dialects and, at times, techniques borrowed from the raga- muffin artists; such is the case with the group Massilia Sound System (1991,1993).

The most characteristic adaptations have nevertheless taken place on the so-called ideological level. The popularity of the gangsta style in the United States has not spread wholesale into the repertoires of French rappers simply because armed gangs and violent drug-dealing gangs in France are still very rare (Olivier 21). Even the most vocal French rap and hip hop artists see drive-by shootings as typically American (Gar- nier, Olivier, Hoimian 24). Three major tendencies in the so-called ideologies expressed by French rappers are evident: "hardcore," "zulu," and "pharaohism." As suggested above, two have been inspired by American models while the third one is an original creation by the French group IAM.

The first ideological rap style is known as "hardcore." The term, some- times used to refer to a crude and noisy hip hop style, is used more as a characteristic of the lyrics than of a particular political school of thought. French rappers who identify themselves as "hardcore" performers in- clude Supreme NTM, MinistPre AMER, and Assassin. Such groups do not pretend, nor do they try, to be simple replications of American groups linked to the gangsta rap style. Rather, they insist that what they see as their central mission is a continuation of rap as a vehicle to popu- larize and vent the anger and the frustrations of many disadvantaged or sometimes mistreated individuals, and to defend the cause of the poorest and least socially-integrated segments of French society (Renault 32).

For members of Supr6me NTM, hardcore French rap and hip hop are one of the few possible forms of revolt given to those whose words and acts have traditionally been silenced. Hence, the hardcore performers are anti-establishment in their lyrics which sometimes include words di- rectly borrowed from their American models. Yet, French hardcore rap- pers and hip hop artists hardly ever mention firearms or drive-by shoot- ings. One exception, the 1993 Supreme NTM album, features a picture of a handgun on the cover because the first song of the album deals with the suicide of a young unemployed and lonely individual (Renault 32). The French hardcore movement is sometimes seen as a straightforward adaptation of the African-American gangsta style: both appear to be odd- ities in the popular musical repertoire but, nevertheless, enjoy a notice- able following and an enduring success.

French hardcore performers pride themselves in the hardcore ideology. In their song "Pour un nouveau massacre," the group Supr6me NTM (1993) defines itself as wholeheartedly in agreement with hardcore phi- losophy and its attitudes:

Le business a fait du rap son nouvel6lixir En en fixant ainsi les limites un peu vite Hardcore est ma vie, hardcore est le Beat Down!

Pour un nouvel acte

Je suis down avec ce nouveau massacre.

Members from Assassin, in "Kique ta merde" (here too, one sees how the use of English expressions is incorporated by French rappers) stress the fact that some critics dismissed them at first as simple imitators. They have now reached a level of popularity which allows them to be more brutal: they tell their listeners that, if they do not like the song, they can always switch to another radio channel (Assassin 1992). The songs by Ministere AMER, whose members pride themselves in having clung to the values of the "old style," fall squarely within the hardcore ideology. They have gone so far as to compose a song ("Brigitte [femme de flic]") about the fictional wife of a policeman who hides her amorous desires for members of marginal ethnic groups, Arabs in particular (MinistPre AMER 1992,1994).

The importance of the French branch of the Zulu Nation has declined significantly since 1987 and, today, only a few groups adopt a clear pro- Zulu stance. A noticeable exception is Les Little. Their songs suggest pos- sible explanations for the success of the movement and for its loss of relevancy. First there were curious members who wanted to discover the new movement. As the group became larger some vicious individuals and envious members appeared, attracted by financial or personal gains. In addition, the Zulu Movement always had to fight for its reputation because some individuals borrowed their dress code but did not adhere to their ideals. For the members of Les Little, as the title of one of their songs makes clear "Rap is worth the price of life" (1992).

Members of the Zulu movement in France also express unambiguous criticisms of the forces ruling the society in which they live. They also do not forget those among themselves whom they consider as traitors or as fakes. The latter are sometimes portrayed as contemptible individuals attracted by monetary rewards and personal self-aggrandizement. Scorn of such individuals, as in Sens Unik's "La Horde des faux" (1993) equals their disdain of the police and the politicians:

Les faux sont faux, faut-il le preciser Comme des fauves se faufilent Faussant facilement leur faussete Et sans vergogne, viennent et me donnent la main Comment vas-tu?

No new group claiming to promote the ideals of the French branch of the Zulu Nation has come out in the past years and, if the history of the French branch of the Zulu Nation serves as a blueprint, it is quite likely that Les Little and Sens Unik will remain the two more significant exam- ples of such rappers and hip hop artists.

The ideology promoted by the members of the group IAM is based upon images associated with ancient Egypt and the Pharaohs. Hence, I call it "pharaohism." The concept underlines Arabic origins while by- passing negative representations of North African countries gripped by Islamic fundamentalism and economic uncertainties. It also conveys a positive image of Mediterranean (and especially Marseillais) culture dis- tinct from mainstream norms in the Hexagon.

IAM's first long-playing record was entitled ". . . de la planete Mars" the name Mars did not refer to the planet in the solar system but, instead, to Marseilles. It helped underline that the artists, as well as many of the people from that city, considered themselves separated from the rest of France and, primarily, from the influence of Paris. Like the planet which has resisted efforts of exploration and settlement, Marseilles (and other southern cities like Montpellier) has resisted integration into the Parisian sphere of influence. Recent financial woes of the Marseillais soccer team, combined with those of Mr. Tapie its owner, have done nothing to soothe the city's ruffled sensibilities (Duroy 150). IAM's second long-playing record insists upon the fact that differences between Marseilles and the rest of France derive from a separatist Mediterranean heritage whose roots were buried by a continental drift. According to liner notes in their second album, IAM's members defend an interpretation of a continental drift which separated the deltas of the Rhane and the Nile! The theory explains the link between the southeastern part of France and ancient Egypt (IAM 1993).

This pharaohism also posits a reaction to the excesses of the Western cultures. In the song "J'aurais pu croire" IAM (1993) shows that, for the West, colonialism was sustained by the desire to improve the countries' powers and resulted into an artificial division of the lands invaded by colonial armies and forces:

J'aurais pu croire en l'occident si,

Tous ces pays n'avaient pas eu de colonies

Et lors de l'independance ne les avaient decoupees comme des tartes

Aujourd'hui, il y a des guerres 21 cause des problemes de cartes.

Another song underlines the symbolism of the number seven with beliefs associated with both ancient Egypt and the Scriptures. Finally, IAM (1993) expresses the core of this new ideology.. The coming of Pharaoh, presented in "Contrat de conscience" will mark the end of the decadent world we live in and a renewal of outmoded and outdated Western ide- ologies and ideals:

Qu'entre pharaon

En cette fin de 20-eme siecle quel est meilleur parangon?

Une masse hypocrite au masque cubique

Ou une poignee au discours immobile comme une cariatide?

Several other songs make it clear that, along with the positioning of their city away from Paris and of their group away from Parisian rappers (hinting at replicating the Los Angeles vs. New York City rap schools dichotomy), pharaohism remains at the core of their ideals. They intend to develop its formulation and sustain its promotion:

L'histoire du c8te de l'aube debuta 
et vers les terres du crepuscule chemina 
Sait ce qu'il y aura demain, si le ciel reste sanguin. 
La nuit. Pharaon reviens. (IAM 1993) 

IAM's album is not entirely devoted to the presentation and develop- ment of this ideology. There are also other elements which contribute to the popularity of IAM's songs. Their song using Spike Lee's references has been mentioned above. In their second album, they have included two frankly humorous songs. In the first "La Methode Marsimil" (a pun on the Assimil technique of foreign language learning) they show how a young American who spent two months with them ended up speaking not a word of French but, instead, their own form of local dialect, gener- ously peppered with expletives and dubious puns:

Ecoutons donc un ingenieur du son americain, 
Fraichement debarque de son pays natal en France 
'Damn, I wish I could speak some French' 
Apres deux mois de travail acharne avec IAM a Marseille 
Voyons ce que la donne 
'Mon vier, stencule, chtbeu, degage ah, on s'en bat les couilles' 
Et il est rest6 que deux mois hein. (1993). 

The second clearly pokes fun at one of their own members who yearns for the chance to sing in English (at least he thinks so!). "Le Retour de Malek Sultan" tells about this member who has gone to America and who, like the young American mentioned above, has learned more non- sensical expressions and slang than straight American-English. It is also evident that, by poking fun at themselves, the members of IAM, effec- tively manage to criticize those who may have fallen into this linguistic trap as well as warn others who may be tempted to follow such an exam- ple (IAM, 1993).

The history of French and Francophone rap and hip hop3 enters its sec- ond decade of existence, and the past ten years have been characterized by three steps indicated in the title of this essay. First, French and Fran- cophone rappers borrowed from a new African-American musical form whose transfer to France was facilitated both by the development of international record distribution and by the creation of a branch of Bam- baataa's Zulu Nation in the northern suburbs of Paris. Second, these French rappers and hip hop artists adopted most of the attitudes, reper- toires, musical and performance techniques exhibited by their American and African-American models. They saw themselves, like many black American rappers, as natural commentators and observers of a seldom seen and largely ignored world where poverty, violence, and despair are prevalent. They also saw themselves as voices of a criticism of French society at large and of the establishment, as well as of its normative forces which led to the personal and social situations they had to face. Third, most French popular artists involved in rap and hip hop adapted some of the ideals, theories, and techniques of their models. They could not continue to simply transfer styles from New York City or Los An- geles whose realities and underlying assumptions did not apply to their own situation. Their search for social relevancy and artistic activism led them either to transform pre-existing ideologies (such was the case with hardcore and Zulu performers) or create their own in a piecemeal fash- ion (IAM's pharaohism). The search awakened them to the dual role of the media. Television and show-business have seldom helped rap artists and have tended to favor more conventional forms of musical entertain- ment. For the group NTM, French show-business establishment lags behind its American counterpart:

Un retard musical de dix ans

La variet' nous prend la tGte, que ces bdtards prennent leur retraite

I1 faut qu'on jette les vedettes qui vegetent avant qu'on ne les pete

. . . Stop, stop, au top trop de salopes, trop de magouilles. (1993)

For others, the efforts of Olivier Cachin, the presenter in charge of the program "Rapline" broadcast by the French television station M-6 (Rous- seau 44) have been appreciated by artists who have also insisted upon the limited outlets available in the French media:

. . . En ce qui concerne le rap la tele

En France l'emission Rapline aux States MTV Rap

On manque sarement d'un certain budget?

Tout Ca c'est du business, mais ai-je l'air d'un objet?

On monte l'artiste puis on le deplace comme un pion

Puis, basta! apres l'avoir cuisine comme un champignon. (Les Little 1992)

Such steps characterize the evolution of a French rap style whose African-American origins were undeniable. The artistic and ideological components resulted from both a reading of pre-existing forms by French performers, as well as an assimilation transformation of socio-economic forces outside the mainstream environment. Thus, nurtured by the Ameri- can productions French rap has now acquired its own hegemony.


'Readers familiar with the reactions of the French during the past decades may wonder why I mention only three steps. Those who have red Kuisel's Seducing the French(1993)will remember that its author mentions four stages: resistance, selective imitation, adaptation, and acceptance. The first stage is not readily apparent because the musicians who decided to borrow did so as individuals. Second, the arrival of rap in France was never perceived as a threat to "Frenchness" as had been the case several decades ago when the first popular pro- ductions from America arrived in France. Finally, owing primarily to the popular produc- tions studied here, some of the stages indicated by Kuisel have been renamed: borrowing instead of selective imitation, adaptation has been replaced by adoption, acceptance has been replaced by adaptation.

iReaders familiar with these two novels will remember the contexts in which the men- tions of the Zulus appear. In Collard's book, the narrator encounters a young Zulu who is, at best, a lax follower of Bambaataa's ideals (he drinks, uses drugs, defaces hallways with graffiti and appears to be a homosexual prostitute). In Thomas's novel, the Zulus are part of litany of names associated with the cellars of public housing buildings: "les zoulous, les keufs, Bagdad et Nique Ta Mgre."

'This essay clearly focuses more on rap than on hip hop. It is not always easy to com- pletely separate these elements. For example, graffiti-and dance-are often associated with hip hop. A good illustration of the techniques used by French graffiti artists is provided by the liner-notes booklet and the illustrations of HMF's recent album. The cover of the liner- notes booklet features the expression "Le sens du devoir," which is the title of the album, and its progressive transformation from standard handwriting to graffiti lettering (HMF 1994). This progression is detailed (it takes nine re-writes to reach the graffiti version) and provides a striking demonstration of the graffiti-lettering techniques used in France.

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Les Inconnus. Les Inconnus. Lederman/PEM 3024-7. Recorded in 1991. 
Lalanne, Bernard. "Comment Le Jour J a transform6 notre decor." L'Expansion (2-15 juin 

1994): 46-50. Kuisel, Richard. Seducing the French: The Dilemma of Americanization. Berkeley: U of Califor- nia P, 1993. Lapointe, Bobby. lntegrale des enregistrements de Bobby Lapointe. Disques Phillips 9101033- 9101036. Issued in 1972. Le Guilledoux, Dominique. "Marseille: Ragamuffin foot et aloli." Le Monde (27 janvier 1994): 111. Les Little. Les Vrais. Mercury 510997-2. Recorded in 1992.

Lionel D. Y a pas de probltme. Squatt 466820-1. Recorded in 1990. 
Louis, Patrick, et Laurent Prinaz. Skinheads, Taggers, Zulus L. Co. Paris: Table Ronde, 1990. 
Massilia Sound System. Parla patois. Independance HD CD 9144. Recorded in 1991. 

. Chourmo! WMD 562365. Recorded in 1993. MC Solaar. Prose combat. Polydor 521289-2. Recorded in 1994. Ministere AMER. Pourquoi tant de haine. Musidisc 109172. Recorded in 1992.

. 92500. Musidisc 112742. Recorded in 1994. Montaigne, Veronique. "L'Oncle Dibango." Le Monde (16 mars 1991): 24. Montand, Yves. Yves Montand dans son dernier "One-Man Show" intkgral. CBS 67281. Re-

corded in 1972. Olivier, N'Guessan. "Gangsta: le langage des armes." Black News Uuillet 1994): 21. Original MC. Le 21tme sigcle. Carrere 9031 74471-2. Recorded in 1991. Piot, Olivier. "La Rebellion du rap." Le Monde de lrEducation ( Septembre 1993): 58-61. Paquot, Thierry. Vive la ville! Collection "Panoramiques." Conde-sur-Noireau: Arlea-Corlet,

1994. Phillips, Peggy Anne. Republican France: Divided Loyalties. Contributions in Political Science, Number 325. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993 Prevos, Andre J.M. "CBers and Cibistes: The Development and Impact of CB Radio in France." Journal of Popular Culture 19.1 (1986): 145-51. . "French Popular Music." Handbook of French Popular Culture. Ed. Pierre L. Horn. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991. 185-214.

. "La Musique francaise aux Etats-Unis : diffusion, popularite, impact." Les MMias francais aux Etats-Unis. Eds. C-J. Bertrand et F. Bordat. Nancy: PU de Nancy, 1994.53-76. . "Singing Against Hunger: French and American Efforts and Their Results." Popu

lar Music and Society 11.3 (1987): 57-74. . "Transferts populaires entre la France et les Etats-Unis : le cas de la musique rap." Contemporary French Civilization 16.1 (1992): 16-29. -. "Une Nouvelle forme d'expression populaire en France: le cas de la musique rap

dans les annees 1980." Francogmphies, No. Special 11 (1993): 11,201-16. Rapattitudes. Labelle Noir/Virgin 30834. Issued in 1989. Rapattitudes 2. Rap et Reggae. Delabel DE 030942. Issued in 1992. Renault, Gilles. "Supr6mement NTM." Libhation (8 Mai 1994): 32. Rioux, Lucien. 50 ans de chansonjran~aise: de Trinet a Bruel. Paris: L'Archipel, 1992. Rose, Tricia. Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Series

"Music/Culture." Hanover, NH: Wesleyan UP/UP of New England, 1994. Rousseau, Frank. "Au ras du bitume." Le Figaro (15 septembre 1990): 44. Sai Sa'i. Reggae Dance Hall. WMD 692006-2. Recorded in 1992. Saliha. Unique. Virgin 30847. Recorded in 1991.

. Rksolument fkminin. Epic 475862-2. Recorded in 1994. Sens Unik. Les Portes du temps. Bondage Productions 562356. Recorded in 1993. Silvana. "International Rapper: MC Solarr [sic]." The Source (April 1994): 82. Supr6me NTM. Authentik. Epic EPC 467994-2. Recorded in 1991.

. 1993.. . j'appuie sur la gachette. Epic 473630-2. Recorded in 1993. Thibodat, Jean-Pierre. "Afrika Bambaataa, roi zoulou du Bronx." Libiration (28 octobre

1982): 21. Thomas, Bernard. Le Champ de la Butte Noire. Paris: Editions Grasset et Fasquelle, 1994. Tonton David. Le Blues des racailles. Delabel DE 030925-2. Recorded in 1991. Trenet, Charles. Boum! Chansons folles. Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1989.

. Mes jeunes annkes raconties par ma mere et moi. Paris: Editions Robert Laffont, 1978.

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