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“The others are us”: the polite and polished rap of Bigflo & Oli

Phenomenon in Europe as much as here, where it has already filled the Bell Centre, the hip-hop duo Bigflo & Oli are preparing to launch, on Friday, their fourth studio album, The others are us. Written and recorded during the pandemic, this copious album of 21 new songs synthesizes what brothers Florian and Olivier Ordonez have accomplished since their debut more than ten years ago: rap with clean language and clear ideas, accessible and proud to be.

How do you feel, Oli, on the eve of such a long-awaited comeback, four years after your last studio album? “Already, we feel different from who we were when we left,” replies the rapper joined in Paris, where he and his brother were preparing for the arrival of the album and the concert they will give the same evening. its outing in front of nearly 20,000 spectators at the Accor Arena.

“This break was a real way for us to take artistic stock and take care of ourselves, and I think that shows in the quality of our lyrics – and, more generally, in that of the album. I always hope to say that of all our albums, but this one, I think, is the most accomplished. The chance we had was that of the time we were able to take to work on the songs and give this color to the album. So, I’m happy to be back with the public, I can’t wait to give the first concert, I can’t wait to get the first feedback on the album. »

Let’s reassure him straight away: The others are us should achieve success comparable to that of The dream life (2018, 100,000 copies sold), The real life (2017, 500,000 copies) and The court of the big ones (2015, 300,000 copies). A versatile and unifying record, like the group’s previous ones, stuffed with pop choruses and touching stories, delivered with the charisma we know from it. A synthesis of everything that has made Bigflo & Oli so successful, as we said.

“I’m glad you felt that,” breathes Oli. The break the group has taken — since its last concert, February 15, 2020, just on the eve of the pandemic — has given the siblings the opportunity to sort through everything that has happened to them. “We took the time to look back, what we brought to the music, to measure the criticisms and the praises that were sent to us, to see what our mistakes were. I’m proud of how transparently we dissect that on the album,” he says of the song. good students (with MC Solaar), “in which Flo and I paint our portraits”.

“nice” rap

“I think that on previous albums, we were chasing a certain validation of the rap world while still wanting to reach an audience uninformed about rap because we always wanted to make beautiful songs, lyrics that touch and melodies that everyone can pick up. The key to their success, as well as the source of the harshest criticism: in the (closed) minds of many of their detractors, Bigflo & Oli make “nice” rap, rap “for children”. The youngest actually love the sound of the duo, who landed a small role in the feature film Asterix and Obelix. The middle Empireplaying “two somewhat fraudulent sellers who operate a grocery store selling fake French products in China,” says Oli.

That doesn’t make it stupid rap, nor does it make these musicians the tourists of a scene where quality isn’t measured only by its credibility in the estates. For this purpose, the title of the song Boobanamed after a veteran of pure and hard French rap, will make you smile: “Beyond the second degree, I found that cool as a title because we have often been put in opposition, him and us, the more raw, more “street” rap, and our sound, while we are open, musically. We listen to everything, and I believe above all that we have the right to dream of being Booba as much as of being the general public, ”comments Oli, recalling having invited so many young trendy rappers on the album, such as Vald , than the bonzes of the variety that are Julien Doré and Francis Cabrel.

However, listening to the rap of 2022, we will be led to believe that the debate between hard rap and mainstream rap has become obsolete, both the canons of American rap (Future, 21 Savage, Young Thug, to name a few) and French (Orelsan, Juls, Ninho) force themselves to be melodious, therefore more pop, in their productions. All of a sudden, would these defenders of polite, but sensible, unifying rap pass for visionaries? This openness to a wider audience will in any case be “our strength, once this period is over” when we look down on them, despite their sold-out tours and platinum records.

If we were, before, a little in this bipolarity, I believe that, in the synthesis that this new album represents, we understood that we would be doing Bigflo & Oli all our lives. We will never be cataloged just as rappers or just as singers. We are this mixture of several influences. It’s an album that assumes who we are, with our fragility and our vulnerability, too,” concludes Oli, promising Quebec fans a stop at home as part of the next tour.

The others are usby Bigflo & Oli, is available Friday on the Polydor/Universal Music label.

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