A leading light in the new generation of versatile French rappers, Timal soundly combines a predisposition for hardcore rap with the Antilles influences of his Guadeloupean origins. Rising to online prominence with a series of freestyle videos throughout 2016 and 2017, his major-label debut, Trop chaud, followed in 2018, earning the 22-year-old a French Platinum certification.
The emcee from Champs-sur-Marne, east of Paris, reemerged in January with “Routine,” the first single from his sophomore album Caliente. A radio purposed collection that separates itself from his debut with renewed commercial ambition, Timal’s second full-length project centers on the inner conflict of wanting to leave the struggle behind him, when it’s all that he knows. This personal quandary is exemplified fully in Caliente’s sleeper hit, “Le temps passe” (Time Goes By).
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From its opening strains, “Le temps passe” captures Timal’s turmoil at its most poignant. Over a stripped-down acoustic production from Tohmas, Timal’s frustration seeps into the picked strings, building in discontent with each acute snare. (“I’ve got friends that I can’t save.”) In dwelling on the seemingly futile communal attempts at trying to overcome systematic segregation, (“We’ll always do anything for money”), Timal (and his gruff cadence) packs sincerity into every inflection: “I’m only telling you what I live.”
Despondently finding solace in alcohol, (“I’ll empty the bottle into cups, we’re gonna finish it all”) “Le temps passe” builds into an arresting refrain that encapsulates the spirit of both the song and Timal’s discord. Even if home is where the heart is, it only serves to evoke negative thoughts and memories for Timal, as he earnestly justifies his desires in an infectious crescendo: “I dream about leaving far from here, there’s nothing strange about that.”
Forgoing a third verse to amplify a final chorus that packs melody and emotion in equal measure, “Le temps passe” begs to be pulled up. A relatable sentiment, stirringly manifested in a memorable hook that stays with you long after the song has finished, “Le temps passe” is the gem of Caliente’s 17 tracks. A song with a musical universality that can be savored whether or not you understand French.