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15 years of the Cauchemar du rap français

The definition of the word mixtape has evolved a lot over the past few decades. Originally a simple compilation recorded on audio cassette, the mixtape became a very specific format when American rappers began to take an interest in it. Easier to produce than a real album, it has allowed many artists to give free rein to their creativity without wasting time in the cumbersome processes that normally involve the release of a disc.

Over time, the notion of mixtape has evolved and lost its meaning. Currently, there are very few differences between a project in mixtape format and another in album format. Mixtapes are thought out and promoted with the same kind of ambition, and albums look more and more like simple compilations. In France, the case of A7 is a good illustration of the phenomenon: despite its title of “best selling mixtape of all time”, many listeners consider this project as Sch’s first album, and his true classic.

To find a project that really takes up the codes of this format, and can be considered a real reference mixtape, you have to go back a few years. In 2007, Rohff is at the height of his glory, chained the big albums, and regularly proves that he has the same hunger for rapping as a young rookie: appearances in shambles in compilations, long freestyles, double-albums … the vitriot has d huge stocks of rhymes to pour out. Less than two years later Beyond my limits, he publishes the first and only volume of Le Cauchemar du rap français, a project that brings together all the elements of the mixtap format.e: a DJ in charge, unreleased titles, remixes, pieces on classic B sides, transitions between pieces, a chaotic tracklist.

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The context of the release

As we said, in 2007, Rohff is one of the contenders for the title of number 1 in French rap. His last three albums have been big hits with 300,000 copies sold on average, at a time when only the physical is counted, and where illegal downloading is breaking records. At the end of 2005, Beyond My Limits confirmed its status as a super heavyweight: the clip for La Pouvoir was playing repeatedly on the music channels, and Rohff even ended up as the French muse of the video game Scarface, released in 2006. on sixth generation consoles.

Rather than continuing directly with a new album -which will arrive at the end of 2008-, the rapper returns to the sources with a good old mixtape, which allows him to make his audience wait, but also to experiment without the pressure that accompanies a real big release. Unfortunately, everything does not necessarily go as planned: Le Cauchemar du rap français was published in July 2007, at a time when Rohff was caught up in the courts and placed in detention – which did not prevent the release from taking place in correct conditions.

The contents

With 31 tracks and a duration of more than 90 minutes, Le Cauchemar du rap français is both above the standards of French rap at the time (and even more so today), and below of those of Rohff, who has got into the habit of publishing albums of more than two hours. Six excerpts from radio freestyles, a dozen remixes, a lot of unreleased tracks, and a few moments that you wouldn’t necessarily have imagined coming from the Rohff album version. One thinks for example of the title Excuse-moi, with its very sexualized subject (“with the devil, we will be three in the room, I have a malformation, I free you: I have three legs”; “sandwiched, naked between Housni and Rohff”, etc), and its chorus which pushes towards the high notes.

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This mixtape is also an opportunity to explore Rohff’s influences, particularly on the American rap side. The vitriot is one of the few French people to fully embrace his love of West Coast rapwith the very western sounds found on titles like 94 Mentale, La Crise, or Fais c’que je te dis.

The big single

Betting on a big single to promote a mixtape was not necessarily the most common practice at the time, while projects released in this format still looked like a compilation hosted by a DJ, or even pure bootleg. The Nightmare of French Rap relies heavily on the very radio Dirty House’, featuring Big Ali, yet taken from the reissue of the album beyond my limits published a few months earlier. This is the advantage of making two close releases: a listener attracted by the success of this title will be directed both to Beyond My Limits Classics and towards The Nightmare of French Rap. With its prod with dirty accents, and the chorus carrying Big Ali, Dirty House’ remains one of the emblematic titles of French rap from the second half of the 2000s.

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Posterity

Fifteen years after its release, Le Cauchemar du rap français appears to be the quintessence of the mixtape format in France. A few years before the borders between the different types of formats became blurred (mixtapes designed as albums, albums designed as playlists, 8-track albums, 12-track EPs, etc.), we find in LCDRF all the ingredients of a real mixtape.

Presented as a “Volume 1”, Le Cauchemar du rap français has unfortunately ended up in the long list of “part.1” of which we are still waiting for the second part. If it did not break sales records, the fault of a less selling format, and especially of a promotion disrupted by the rapper’s legal troubles, this mixtape is regularly cited by its listeners as one of the best projects of the Rohff’s career. More instinctive than an album, very uninhibited in terms of sounds and themes, this project remains an excellent testimony to what French rap was like in the second half of the 2000s.




13 mins

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