The penultimate month of the French rap calendar brought with it several highly anticipated releases. Siboy and Dinos returned with sophomore projects, while rap français luminary SCH also dropped his new album.
The music took a backseat to mourning, however, with the tragic passing of one of French rap’s most gifted artists, Népal. The 24-year-old rapper and producer from Paris, who fashioned an especial rap universe from astral beats and a delicate honesty, was one of his generation’s most esteemed talents.
From a month packed with notable releases, here are the best French hip-hop songs from November.
SCH — “R.A.C.”
Rap français’ most bodacious voice; SCH’s virulent cocktail of gruff couplets, pitch-corrected refrains, and inscrutable ad-libs have captivated France since his debut in 2014. With style rooted in influences as diverse as Elton John and Le Rat Luciano, the 26-year-old’s offsets his street tales with a penchant for glacé powerpop hooks. Collecting a Platinum plaque every year since his debut project A7 four years ago, Le S assuredly strides the tightrope of both critical acclaim and commercial success. His long-awaited fourth album, Rooftop, was released in late November.
“R.A.C.” (“I Don’t Give a Shit”) is the second single from Rooftop and a continuation of the Mafioso rap theme defining SCH’s rap guise. Backed by a turbulent Phazz production, Le S negotiates the menacing keys with a broadside of nefarious bars (“I’m posted up on the rooftop with the sky, the birds and your mother”). Spluttering his trademark repulsed inflections with the surety of an artist seeking to satisfy expectancy; the Marseille born emcee is almost certain to recoup a fifth Platinum certification. And he hasn’t even entered his prime.
Dinos — “Mack le Bizz Freestyle”
Pen for pen, Dinos sits comfortably in the rarefied air of French rap lyricists. Unlike many of his contemporaries, the 25-year-old’s influences are steeped firmly in domestic hip-hop. A rap français disciple, Dinos’ first album, 2018’s Imany, was an acclaimed testament to his aspiration to humanize project life through rap. The former battle rapper effortlessly balances his caustic punchlines with poignant quotables. His second album Taciturne was released in late November.
“Mack le Bizz Freestyle” takes its keynote from the Nimo song of the same name. The second single from Taciturne and a wintry ode to melancholy finds Dinos ruminating on his solitude and relationship doubts. Over an ambient Wav Maker production, Dinos divulges his innermost fears (“I know that God exists, but I don’t know why / I know that love exists, just not for me”) turning the freestyle into an intimate ballad of discontentment.
Luv Resval — “MPC”
As a member of AWA Music’s youth revolution, Luv Resval is the standout of a choice selection of prodigious French talent. Boasting a flow rivaling the best of his domestic contemporaries, Resval is as at ease with the syncopated bounce of rap’s yesteryear as he is floating into a melody over a chorus of 808s. The 21-year-old, from Paris’ Southern suburbs, is the pick of France’s Gen Z rappers. With a debut album on the horizon, Luv will almost certainly conquer all in 2020.
“MPC” is Luv Resval’s latest single, a hook-free bar fest named after the iconic Akai sampler. Three minutes of lyrical fury, traversing the wistful (“I don’t even know if I feel bad or good, but like a jumping jack, I cling to my string”) and anti-sexist (“I can’t listen to you talk about bitches because I love my sisters too much”), “MPC” is yet another Luv standout.
13 Block — “Fuck le 17”
Coalescing the sonics of Chicago and Atlanta with their distinctive Saint-Denis argot, 13 Block are the leading proponents of multi-person trap in France. Childhood friends Stavo, OldPee, Zefor, and Zed debuted as mere teenagers in 2012 and released their first mixtape as a unit in 2014. The quartet, who took inspiration from Migos and Waka Flocka Flame, implanted themselves firmly in the French rap scene with their follow up mixtape Violence Urbaine Emeute in 2016. After a series of buzz singles, they finally released their debut album BLO in April 2019.
“Fuck le 17” is a protest song about the police emergency number in France. Produced by Myth Syzer, the video for the ardently celebrated anthem was finally released in November. The video, censored for its mostly controversial lyrics (“I dream of dead police bodies”), was as unpopular with the song’s listeners—for not fully reflecting its vitriolic sentiment—as it was with the French government, who have assured that justice will be served in court. With concerts canceled in its wake, “Fuck le 17” promises to endure as a soundtrack to the anti-police brutality movements for years to come.
Isha — “Idole” (with Dinos)
After calling time on his rap career shortly after his first album in 2008, Isha took on a more public-spirited occupation, assisting the homeless and refugees in his hometown of Brussels. The son of Congolese activist migrants, Isha’s six-year stint in humanitarian emergency services paved the way for a more reflective return to rap in 2016. Imposing himself on the French rap scene with La Vie Augmente Vol. 1 (inspired by film La Vie est belle, directed by his uncle) Isha made capital out of the Belgian rap revival with a renewed sense of purpose and a more sagacious pen.
“Idole” is the second single from Isha’s upcoming La Vie Augmente Vol. 3 project, due January 2020. Produced by Ray Da Prince, the cultured emcee reflects on his internal struggle and the false illusions of fame (“Don’t be like us, we’re not idols/live a long life, we’re gonna die young”). Featuring Dinos, who drops a typically piquant 16, “Idole” is yet another testament to two of the finest francophone litterateurs.