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Interview with rapper Lala & what is releasing a new EP: SunSystem

Charismatic rapper with a poisonous charm and ultra sensual and badass LGBT icon, the Lyonnaise Lala &ce returns with the invigorating SunSystem, an EP bursting with sunshine and dancehall-reggaeton radio hits. A beautiful tribute to the Ivorian roots of an artist who does not forget who she is even when she eyes the stars of mainstream success.

With its hovering flow and its maddeningly sensual androgynous charisma, the Franco-Ivorian of Lyon origin Lala &ce has become one of the most respected figures in French rap. A career that is all the more inspiring since French-speaking rap still does not leave much room for women, however talented they may be. But we must admit that under her nonchalant air, the 27-year-old Frenchwoman has some serious arguments. In two mixtapes (including The sound afterin 2019) and a hypnotic debut album (Everything Tasteful in 2021), the artist now based in Paris has imposed a haunting sound, as if slowed down and codeine, inspired by cloud rap, electro and trap. We must add to his ethereal productions the languor, even the torpor, of a voice full of auto-tune, polished visuals and cryptic lyrics (which are sometimes difficult to elucidate) to understand why Lala &ce is the subject of a cult in the hexagonal musical underground.

Lala &ce is also a true fashion icon, courted by the biggest brands (she walked for Mugler and sang for Louis Vuitton) and the first LGBT icon of French rap., flaunting his homosexuality and highlighting black women in clips that give pride of place to languorous twerk sessions. But as attractive as its poisonous universe is, Lala &ce has no intention of remaining nestled there. In September 2021, the rapper imagined a musical, Deadly Kiss, at the Bourse du Commerce de Paris, well supported (Low Jack, Jäde, Rad Cartier, Le Diouck). This Pinault Collection production featured a love story inspired by the film death takes a vacation (1934). The romantic rapper’s ambitious new project? A solar and invigorating EP, SunSystem, centered on African sounds and paying homage to its Ivorian roots. Meeting with an artist who gazes at the stars without ever burning her wings.


@Lewis Khan

@Lewis Khan

Number: How was this new EP born, SunSystem ?
Lala & this: The starting point is summer, the warmth, the joy, the smile, the “good vibes”. It started with a time when I was in a café and a waiter came to see me. He told me that he knew and liked my music and that my piece Wet (Drippin’) released in 2019 reminded him of a happy time in his life, linked to summer and heat. It touched me because for me, a good song reminds you of a good time in your life and immerses you in a certain nostalgia. I then said to myself that I wanted to transcribe this feeling a little more by going back to my adolescence.

To give birth to SunSystem, you have drawn on past summers, as a child and teenager, alongside your family in Côte d’Ivoire. You made the 400 blows with your friends in the district of Yopougon in Abidjan…
My mother was born in Ivory Coast and met my father when she was 30, in France. She spent a good part of her life there and had children who joined us here when they were about ten years old. I kept a lot of attachment for this country, in particular thanks to my brothers and my sisters who were born there and who taught me a lot of things about Côte d’Ivoire like typical ways of speaking. I also went every summer to this country. I have a double culture that I wanted to celebrate by going back to basics with this project.

Can you tell us about the clip of Should have said nothe first single from your EP?
It was filmed in Abidjan last June. We see both friends and actors as well as people we discovered on the spot. At the end of the clip, when we are in the maquis (restaurant located in Africa which plays the role of a real meeting place, editor’s note), many people we discover are those who were there when we shot this scene. In fact, we went into the maquis, we put on some sound, we were very well received and we had fun.

The cover of Lala &ce's new EP,
The cover of Lala &ce's new EP,

The cover of Lala &ce’s new EP, “SunSystem” @ Emma Panchot

Is it the pandemic that made you want more warm and optimistic sounds (dancehall, afrobeat, reggaeton) like those of the song Good time ?
It wasn’t the trigger for the EP but let’s say that after the confinements and with the COVID, that’s good. Everyone finally breathes a little. There are concerts and festivals again. And this EP goes well with the summer euphoria. That’s why I wanted a very sunny pouch that makes you smile. Some people have a darker image of me. But those who know me well know that I laugh all the time and that this cover looks like me. I wanted to show a part of me that many people ignore. This is, however, only a packaging. I changed the packaging color but my way of writing and the themes I approach are the same. Simply, it’s over the “darkance” for now.

The reference to the sun in the title of the EP evokes the episodes of crushing heat that we are experiencing at the moment. Can we see a reflection on ecology?
It could, in any case, that’s good, but the title SunSystem rather comes from the word “sound system” as well as from my fascination for astronomy. I even put eight tracks on the EP because there are eight planets in the solar system (in addition to one star, the Sun).

If your music is sunny, the lyrics are often more melancholic and thought-provoking. What are the themes of this EP?
On the title control, I’m talking about my father, his death (Lala &ce’s father died suddenly of a heart attack when the rapper was 19, which caused her to leave for London to study finance, ndr) and letting go , topics that I had not yet approached. It’s true that even when the sounds are warm, the lyrics often sound sadder. I can not help myself. I find melancholy too beautiful. In fact, there are solar songs like a purplish-hued sunset. This EP can be listened to like a day in the sun, with the zenith on certain tracks like Fasterand others that evoke the moment when night fell like Execution. All states of the sun are represented here.

@Lewis Khan
@Lewis Khan

@Lewis Khan

We also feel a desire, in the lyrics, to go back to basics, to point out that the most important thing in life is family and enjoying the good times…
That’s quite right. I refocused on positivity and coming back to a natural state, showing yourself as you are. There are not too many sequins, nor powder in the eyes. I come from Lyon and lived in London until 2020 before moving to Paris two years ago. Parisian life is great: I have frequented different circles, good people and others, not so good. And without wanting to point the finger at anyone, I think it can quickly go to your head. There are people who come and go, unprepared. You have to be strong not to “get your eyes flashed”. You can twist easily. I feel blessed to have, so far, kept my feet on the ground even if I always try to climb a little higher. I often go to see my mother and my childhood friends in Lyon, it helps not to disconnect from the essentials. People recognize authentic things when they hear them and that’s where you have to go as an artist.

There is always a bit of glitter in your songs. You sing at some point for example that you are in “full Moncler”...
That flexibility is part of the trick. For me, I’m the best rapper. The fact of being able to switch in the lyrics at any time does not prevent you from keeping your feet on the ground.

@Lewis Khan
@Lewis Khan

@Lewis Khan

In your new lyrics, you seem to talk less about your love and sex life than before…
Maybe it’s because you got used to it because it’s still there. It’s true that I still want to calm down that side a bit, so as not to be “the lesbian on duty” (laughs). It’s too easy to put people in a box and never get them out. But I love talking about it. It’s still my favorite theme. I also like to suggest things without really saying them, leaving room for interpretation. In the works that touch me the most like The Illuminations of Rimbaud, what I find beautiful is that he lets us make up our own story.

Some of your new songs are real hits (like control). Do you feel the desire to seduce a wider audience?
I know there are artists who like to stay in their niche. But my goal is always to reach as many people as possible. Except that the challenge is to manage to reach more people while keeping your personal touch. With time, experience, it becomes easier, but it’s not easy. You have to do it smartly. The risk is to do drill thinking that it will work and to lose the public that has followed you since your debut.

SunSystem (2022) by Lala &ce, available on all platforms.

@Lewis Khan
@Lewis Khan

@Lewis Khan

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