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How Disiz has reinvented itself project after project for 20 years

An artist who constantly renews himself

Very well received by its public, this new album has also enabled Disiz to reach the younger generations in unexpected ways. His featuring with Damso, Meet, indeed went viral on Tik Tok, earning it a number 1 spot on the top singles chart, and even earning its first gold single of the streaming era. A great confirmation for the rapper, whose discography, which began 22 years ago with Le Poisson Rouge, is one of the most eclectic in the French rap panorama. From one project to another, Disiz is an artist in perpetual change, and each of his albums can be defined by a different color. For a long time, this diversity could be seen as an obstacle for listeners who did not always know where to place Disiz. The rapper gave the feeling of being constantly in artistic research, without ever finding a definitive form.

Today, this heterogeneous discography appears to be one of the rapper’s strengths, and one of the main reasons for his longevity. Like a painter in whom one could distinguish a blue period, a red period, etc., Disiz gave precise colors to each of the different phases of his discography. Love is a new reinvention of his artistic universe and his character, but it is far from being the first time that the rapper surprises. The first part of his discography, from 2000 to 2005, is the one that undergoes the fewest variations. However, already at the time, the artistic personality of Disiz can be declined in several versions.

A contrasting first part of his career

Discovered by the vast majority of listeners with J’pète les leads, an extremely light storytelling which became one of the big singles of the year 2000, Disiz is quickly cataloged as a comedic rapper, whose main quality is to tell funny stories. An image reinforced by another single in the same tone, Ghetto Sitcom, also taken from the album Le Poisson Rouge. However, this first project has a very different color: certainly, there is a lot of second degree, but also more serious themes (Le Poisson Rouge, only God knows when the bell tolls), a lot of questioning (L’associé of the devil, The philosophy of the hall), and above all, a real passion for hip-hop, symbolized by the simultaneous presence of Akhenaton and Joeystarr on the same tracklist.

Throughout the first half of the 2000s, Disiz juggled between his public image, his artistic ambitions, certain misunderstandings on the part of the rap community, his management of success, or even his origins (two cassettes published only in Senegal). Categorized among the mainstream artists, while he was one of the only headliners of the time to invite underground artists such as Treyz L’Affreux, Joe Lucazz or Éloquence on his albums, he was appreciated by the general public for its most mainstream titles, its collaboration with Yannick Noah, and its discourse that could be described, depending on the point of view, as positive or even naive. His participation in the mythical debate with Joeystarr and Ekoué, organized by the program Tracks, symbolizes all the contradictions of Disiz at the time: the rapper of the Rumeur puts him back in place curtly, and definitively obliterates his status as a consensual rapper. His intervention in this debate is part of a long list of errors that Disiz himself will admit a few years later, such as his speech opposite Eric Zemmour in On n’est pas couche, or his displayed support for Ségolène Royale in the second round of the 2007 presidential election. If there is one thing that cannot be blamed on Disiz, it is that he is able to take a step back from his own journey and understand his own errors.

2008-2015: Disiz the undecided

From 2008, he made a complete artistic turnaround: he changed his name, became Peter Punk, and joined the Rouge à Lèvres collective. He then participated in the album Démaquille-toi, with electro influences, in the trend initiated by Grems, one of the founders of the group, and inventor of Deepkho, a hybrid musical genre between rap, deep-house, and French Touch. For Disiz, this adventure will culminate in the album In the belly of the crocodile (2010), still under the name of Peter Punk, a fairly experimental project mixing rap, electro and rock sounds. In the meantime, he will have said goodbye to rap with the album Disiz the End (2009), this time under the name of Disiz, evoking in the eponymous title “the end of a cycle”, and showing himself, throughout the tracklist, very critical of French rap and what it has become. However, he returned to rap in 2012 with a new project, Lucide, evoking his Peter Punk period as a necessary breath of fresh air.

With all these reversals, Disiz inevitably swept away his audience, but paradoxically, Extra-Lucide, the album that follows Lucide, is the one that best synthesizes all his influences, all his desires.. The extended tracklist (20 titles and 6 bonuses in total) allows the rapper to explore many avenues and give free rein to his various artistic personalities: egotrips full of second degree (Go Go Gadget), experimental pieces (Fukushima, Extra -lucid), sung titles (Les Moyens du bord) … “Polyurethane, or Fairground, these are pieces that I could have done before, but that I didn’t dare“, explained at the time the rapper to Olivier Cachin. Disiz concludes the trilogy Lucid with Translucent in 2014, an album which also offers a very wide range of sounds, and which aims to be more contrasting. We also find there the influences that pushed Disiz to become Peter Punk a few years earlier (Burn Out), the usual egotrips tinged with humor (Rap Genius, MC Kissinger), and more airy titles (Happy End).

New turnaround the following year: with rap machine, Disiz puts aside all his rock/electro/pop inclinations and returns to pure and hard rap. Where the Peter Punk parenthesis had been a breath of fresh air, rap machine represents a return to basics necessary for a rapper who has become accustomed to detaching himself from the classic codes of the genre by infusing it with other types of sounds. After stepping away from rapping and then coming back to it in a hybrid form, Disiz needed to rediscover his pure rapper garb. If it is not his most outstanding album, it allows him to close a chapter. Without this project, the sequel might not have had the same color.

Pacific, Disizilla, L’Amour: 3 albums, 3 reinventions

In 2017, Peaceful therefore announces a new change, and sounds (finally) like the first project on which he is perfectly artistically free, free from any type of concept. This is one of the most compelling projects in his discography, and the beginning of a new stage in his career. Neither entirely rap, nor totally anything else, this album with melancholic hues finally gives the feeling that the artist has stopped looking for himself, giving free rein to his inspiration without asking himself any more questions. Peaceful bears its name perfectly: Disiz seems serene and peaceful as he has rarely been before.

A little over a year later, it’s a new emotion that pushes Disiz to record the nervous Disizilla, an album that is sometimes very dark. The love he has for his mother is one of the red threads of the album, and one of the reasons that lead him to express so much anger: obsessed with the fear of losing her, angry at his disease (he mentions several times his cancer and his chemotherapy). Other reasons for fury shine through throughout the project, whether they be societal causes (“you didn’t fail your studies, they’re the ones who screwed up school”), or moments of his career, in particular his studies, which were rather badly experienced (“in Assas, I’m a stre-mon, an accident, keep telling me wesh, to your mom, I’m going to make love”). Disizilla is an explosion of anger on 16 tracks, and a simple glance at the tracklist is enough to understand its state of mind in 2018: Monstrous, Dialogue between monsters, Hiroshima, Kaiju, Juggernaut…

After four years of discographic absence, the return of Disiz with Love therefore adds yet another color to his work. less peaceful than Peacefulsofter in form than Disizillaless rap than rap machinemore homogeneous than Translucent, this thirteenth album concludes a very long chapter in the life of Serigne M’Baye, a chapter that began at the age of 19 with a marriage and an embryonic career in rap. A quarter of a century later, after a lot of experimentation, mistakes along the way, albums recorded in response to an impulse, and many artistic reversals, Disiz is always there, ready to write new pages and look for new colors.

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