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Featurings, the great bazaar of French rap – RFI Musique

Let’s play devil’s advocate: what if the features between French rap artists were going too far? A triple album from Classico organized with 157 rappers is it not indigestible for the public? If this point of view can be defended artistically speaking, it does not however hold water against the figures: nearly 34,000 equivalent sales in the first week, and a Gold Disc certification the following week.

Admittedly, the score is lower than 13 Organized, Jul’s other collective project which brought together around fifty rappers and broke all stream records and totaled 371 million YouTube views, but still. These impressive results are closely linked to the new music consumption, streaming.

Driver, rapper and host of multiple web shows including Featuringhis program produced by Engle broadcast on Apple Podcasts (and available on streaming platforms via www.featuring.fm), confirms to us that the art of feat became one of the hens with the golden eggs (and the Golden Discs) of the rap biz. “If the featuring has become so important today, it’s because some artists stream a lot, and therefore lesser known artists dream of making a featuring with them to gain streaming, views on YouTube, notoriety. people see the featuring as a time saver where at the time it was : ‘I like what you do, I find you good, I would like to rap with you’. Today, there are many, many interests in making a featuring Rappers are never going to express it like that, but it’s the reality”.

Fight of generations

If it is obvious that French rap has become much more relaxed compared to the generation of the 1990s, has cynicism transformed the game, by making an arena where only the number counts? Of course not, and the best example of this is the duo Air Max, which in 2018 brought together 113 veteran Rim K with new star Ninho. A sincere duo, that of two different generations, of two artists who respect each other.

Driver: “Ninho knows the work of Rim K and vice versa. Each appreciating the music of the other, they decided to make a piece together. And that’s good, because we are still in an era where there is a fight of generations. A majority of old people find it difficult to listen to the new ones and the new ones find it difficult to listen to the old ones, if indeed they listened to them! So, to see Rim K and Ninho together, it’s beautiful “.

The conflict of generations is also played out on the side of the chroniclers of this musical style: Julien Beats, the (very) young YouTuber who comments on French rap and has managed a few stunts like the Booba interview, launched a pike at Rohff in December 2021, shortly before the release of his album Great Sirin which we find the single Legenda feat with Jul: “Rohff is obviously a great rapper, we all know him. He has nothing more to prove. Afterwards in terms of the tracklist, it will be a great international zumba. Already when you call Jul to do a featis that you are in distress, really, between us! said the bespectacled kid facing Sam’s in The Big Streamthe Konbini show.

“I’m not a streaming rapper and I don’t sing for Julien Beats”, replied the rapper from the Comoros. Who, for once, did not hesitate to multiply the feats of prestige on this double album: Naps, Tayc, Imen Es, Gims and Dadju for sure values, Goulam and Guè Pequeno for rising values. The result ? 13,123 sales equivalents in the first week, an honorable figure these days, especially after 25 years of career, but below Supernaturalwhich had doubled the week of its release in 2018.

Proof if it were needed that luxury featuring is not the certainty of the explosion of stream counters. The two leaders of feat to the French remain Jul and Ninho, with 80 features for the first and nearly a hundred for the second. Driver: “A track with one of these two is sure to go gold. I think their social media DMs must be full!”

Kaaris and Kalash Criminal, Sevran connection

Another phenomenon in the rap world: joint albums. After Vertical Horizonreleased in 2020 by Vald and Heuss L’Enfoiré, here comes that of Kalash Criminel with Kaaris, SVR (for Sevran), the common point of this new duo being their geographical origin. A relatively recent phenomenon here, where in the United States, the practice is common: Jay Z with R. Kelly (two albums), Kanye West and Jay Z, Future and Young Thug, 21 Savage and Offset, Method Man and Redman, etc

For Driver, it is a technique to be developed: “I find that in the history of French rap, there are not enough. For me, there should have been more, and for a long time. It’s good that there is Kaaris / Kalash, I hope this will give ideas to others. I assume that when two people make a featuring and that the song works, you have to think of a common project. If people like a track, they might like an album! After that, it depends on what you’re doing inside. It is not enough to put two names together to make a good project. Personally, I dream of a joint Vald/Alkpote album, that would be very strong”.

Waiting for the numbers SVRincluding the clip of Challa totaled 4 million YouTube views at the end of January 2022, the Vald/Heuss experience was a relative disappointment in commercial terms, with less than 13,000 sales equivalents in the first week.

Of course, there are still rappers who make features for the love of music. It is with the newcomers that the feat may become a necessity. Driver: “For a rapper who doesn’t have a name yet, the first thought is often: ‘I must make a feat with so and so, thinking of an artist better known than him. The gain in exposure is inevitable. After that does not mean that it brings something. It’s good to make a feat with a big head of French rap, but if you’re not up to it, we’ll only remember the big head. If you have the big artist, you better do the best verse of your life, the verse that goes with it”.

In short, featuring is not the Alpha and Omega of French rap. The proof ? Ninho was a hit like never before with his album Jeff. His particuliarity ? It does not contain any featuring.

Kaaris and Kalash Criminal SVR (Arista) release January 28, 2022

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