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Is Gringe too hard on himself?

In an interview on France Inter with our colleague Charles Pépin on the show Under Plato’s Sun, Gringe spoke at length about his career, as an expert on the matter “how to overcome procrastination and get to work?”. His label of eternal wanker has indeed taken a big hit in recent years, with a book, half a dozen films, a solo album, two group albums, and a lot of scenes throughout France.

In the midst of other subjects, in particular his relationship with his brother, on which he opens up in a very touching way, Gringe returns to his first (and only) solo album, Enfant Lune, released in November 2018. Not really tender with him- even, the rapper launches into a surprising self-criticism: “It came out four years ago, I hear something super naive in the speech, the choice of words, the way I pose my voice. It was a laboratory, a way of reclaiming my autonomy after the Casseurs Flowters. So it’s a little wobbly”. Is Gringe being too hard on his own work, or on the contrary, being lucid about an album that has divided his audience?

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Before returning to the content of Child Moon, it is necessary to recontextualize its output. Mysterious object during the first years of his career, Gringe remains in the shadow of Orelsan until 2013. Not very active musically, he delivers performances of excellent quality at each of his appearances, but is far too rare. It’s the adventure with the Casseurs Flowteurs that will bring him out of his torpor and put him definitively into action: an album, followed by a film + album pack, a TV series, then a tour captured on a live album. In three short years, Gringe produces more than in its previous three decades of existence. Once launched, he can finally begin the project of a lifetime: the solo album.

A huge opposite

Before the release of this album, we actually know little about Gringe’s personality. In the eyes of the public, he appears as an eternal teenager of thirty, who plays his own role in Blocked. Caricature of a wanker spending his days on a shabby couch playing the console with his friends, he does not reveal himself more in his music. We then appreciate Gringe for its ego trips and its humorous texts (“I also have love for milfs, Grandma knows how to make a good love juice”), self-mockery (“I’m in the cinema, Gaumont Pathé, I’m at the entrance, I tear up the tickets”), and ass jokes (“I spit in your pregnant wife and I make you a swimming baby”), and that is logically what is expected of him on his album.

With its dark color, its extremely personal pieces, and its long introspections, Child Moon therefore takes everyone on the wrong foot when it comes out. We expected to laugh in front of a good big fat comedy, we find ourselves crying in the face of a drama that spares us nothing. We then understand the reasons for Gringe’s lack of productivity for so many years: from his relationship with a ghostly father to his brother’s accident and illness to his cocaine addiction, we discover a broken personality. , light years away from the idle and funny rapper we thought we knew.

A dark and stormy album

Reactions to the release of the album are mixed. Obviously, everyone is touched by the rapper’s personal story -unless you don’t have a heart, it’s hard to remain unmoved. On the other hand, the relative absence of the Gringe of Casseurs Flowteurs is not to the taste of all listeners. The process of revealing oneself is not necessarily directly criticized, but not everyone fully agrees. Enfant Lune is an album without a real radio single, and its clipped excerpts are among the saddest titles on the tracklist: Scanner recounts his brother’s accident, Spare Parts the absence of his father, etc. Only the big meeting of kickers with Orelsan, Suikon Blaz AD and Vald brings a different color to the first impression that one can have of the album.

Enfant Lune is a dark project, which begins in depression (Paradis Noir), continues by evoking romantic relationships of absolute sadness (I let her do it, Return to where you come from), and delves deep into the tortured psyche of the rapper (“I have horrific visions”), even going so far as to discuss his suicidal tendencies (“I often hesitate to take the plunge”). The presence of Léa Castel on the tracklist is quite surprising, but finally takes on its full meaning when we understand the role she had in the conception of the album, as explained by Gringe at OKLM in 2018 : “she took pieces in spare parts to make real songs”.

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Child Moon still has its fun times (On danse pas, Konnichiwa), which allows both to ventilate the heavy and dark atmosphere of the project, and to allow a complete panorama of the personality of Gringe. The rapper isn’t just a man who’s been through hard times and built himself up through pain: he’s also a big joker, he likes to have fun, and it would have been strange if his only solo album didn’t tell us. does not show this side of his personality. We are therefore entitled to a few jokes à la Gringe (“I am love for my neighbour, pregnancy for my next”), even if at times we have the impression of scraps from the Casseurs (Konnichiwa) studio rather than large pieces capable of carrying a solo album.

An album destined not to have a sequel?

The great paradox of Child Moon lies precisely in its very complete aspect. In the exploration of his personality, in the introspection, in the very autobiographical aspect, it could be a definitive album. Gringe has exposed himself so much that he seems to have given it his all… and yet he is now so dissatisfied with his own work that he seems to have delivered an unfinished album. Child Moon is an imperfect work, and above all very uneven, which ultimately sums up quite well the image we had of the rapper: a guy capable of big flashes, brilliant at times, but too busy hanging out to be regular and productive.

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At present, it is difficult to say with certainty that Enfant Lune will be followed by a second album. Four years after its release, Gringe’s musical career is on stand-by, and according to the interview with Charles Pépin mentioned at the start of the article, the world of rap attracts him less and less. More focused on cinema, he gives no indication of a possible second album. By delivering an album as personal and autobiographical as Child Moon, Gringe has freed itself from a burden, exhausting at the same time the possibility of a second album of the same ilk. If there were to be a sequel, it could not indeed look like a Moon Child 2.0, most of the introspective themes having already been explored extensively. Nor would it be a new solo by half of Casseurs Flowteurs: Gringe has already gone around the question, and this period of his life is over – even if the group still has the same chemistry, as we could realize this on Casseurs Flowteurs Infinity last year.

Four years after its release, Enfant Lune remains a very special project. Completely out of step with the image we had of its author, it revealed a completely different facet of his personality, and better understood his history and his flaws. Uneven, with its big moments and more dispensable titles, it’s a milestone in Gringe’s life and career. The first solo album always has a special flavor, especially when it arrives after more than fifteen years of rapping, especially since there is nothing to confirm that it will not be the one and only solo project in his discography.

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