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tribute to this sacred monster of French rap

In 2022, it is difficult to talk about Temps Mort without repeating everything that has already been said about it. However, we had to come back to it since Booba’s first solo album is now celebrating its twentieth candle. And two decades later, the conclusion is there: this project still fascinates as much and continues to unleash passions.

Beyond representing Booba’s first solo steps, this album, as its title so aptly expresses, caused a breach in the space-time continuum of French rap when it was released. It’s very simple: he placed Elie Yaffa in the Pantheon of French rappers and all those who listened to him at least once in their life never really recovered. For many rap listeners, this legendary album is not only the most beautiful musical piece in the Duc de Boulogne’s discography, but also purely and simply the best French rap album of all time.

So yes, even 20 years later, we have to talk about it. Already because such an anniversary cannot be forgotten, but also because Booba’s career is so immense that a younger segment of his audience may still not know this masterpiece. . Ah, and also, returning to this classic will allow us to forget its gratuitous wickedness, he who for no apparent reason and in a totally gratuitous way, attacked Stromae, a great artist whose real suffering finally feeds the hearts of people. In short, time out, here are five reasons why Kopp’s first album marked the history of French rap.

An album ahead of its time

Whether we like it or not, the Duc de Boulogne is a legend of French rap. Through more than a quarter of a century of career, he has always been what is called a “game changer”. In other words, he is one of those artists who with each release have a profound and lasting influence on the contemporary rap landscape.

But long before he exported trap and autotune to France, the Booba revolution began at Temps Mort. In 2002, it was this album that brought for the first time in France, theAmerican-style gangsta rap with violent metaphors, strong images and shocking phrases.

However, he was able to modernize the style, in particular thanks to the avant-garde productions of Animalson and Fred le Magicien.

Unlike Mauvais Œil, which assumed that it drew its influences from the dark vibes of Mobb Deep’s rap, on this album, Booba and his producers did not hesitate to seek out new, futuristic, even completely strange sounds for some. A bold artistic direction displayed from the intro and which says a lot about the ambitions of the rapper.

Booba has the slab

Let’s put things in context: at the dawn of the 2000s, Booba was already a big name in French rap. However, he still has a lot to prove, he who hasn’t shown anything solo yet. Galvanized by the success of Lunatic and knowing that he is expected at the turn, B2O has only one desire: crush the competition. Moreover, when the Duke scratches the first texts of Temps Mort, he is still imprisoned in “that fucking prison” of Bois d’Arcy. We then understand that when he was released in 1998, he only wanted to eat the world.

During Lunatic’s time, the Duke formed with Ali the perfect balance of ying and yang. Obviously, when he goes off on his own and his partner is no longer there to channel his anger, he goes into mode wild and no one can stop it. The impression of being an outcast of society coupled with the burning desire to “fuck everything” in its path: such is this cocktail of intense emotions that Booba will transform into insolent energy.

Rage and anger as the main engine of his art, it must be admitted that Booba has lost this specificity over the years. And that’s quite normal since the artist has changed. After all, he has long sat on the throne of French rap. Inevitably, he could not hope to remain authentic if he had continued to rap about his financial problems and his galleys in the street. Believe me, on Temps Mort, we are a long way from today’s lodger Duke. At the time, B2O was in caillera mode and was not laughing, clearly not.

A sense of the formula at its peak

On Temps Mort, the 9-2 rapper did not only seek to differentiate himself in terms of productions. Also in terms of style. He stood out by offering a rap that stinks of the street, but in a modern version, more colorful and more technical. In the history of rap, groups like the AMER Ministry, Expression Direkt or the Mafia K’1 Fry have taken turns bringing the caillera side of rap, and Booba has revolutionized it by mixing the raw side of the street with the finesse of writing drawn from the Time Bomb school.

So it’s no surprise that on this album, Booba has already established himself as the undisputed master of the punchline. It’s very simple, each measure, each line that he proposes is a textual bullet hit right in the bullseye. The most incredible thing in all of this is that each punch, however dirty, is delivered with insolent nonchalance and disconcerting ease. It’s almost discouraging for the competition.

Moreover, at a time when many French rappers liked to cover US punches, where some were content to make literal translations from English to French, Kopp went further and transformed the initial phase into a real technical feat. A telling example to illustrate: when Biggie raps “Bcause the streets is a short stop/ Either you’re slinging crack rock/ Or you got a wicked jump shot” in his song, “Things Done Changed”, Booba in his title “Independent”, rather than simply translating In the street, either you sell crack, or you make baskets”, he will say: For them, if you’re black, from a city or a barrack, you won’t go far, it’s “sell crack or 3-point shooting”. CQFD.

Being capable of the finest technical feats with so much ease while being perfect in its placements, and irreproachable in its interpretation, isn’t this ultimately the famous science of rhyme advocated by the 45 Scientific team? Like what, the only rapper who could compete with Booba from Temps Mort at the time was himself. The proof, many of them have tried to copy it.

Booba: imitated, but never equaled

Of course, when you are bold, powerful and ahead of your time, you inspire posterity. At the time, the slap of Temps Mort is such that many listeners will be marked by this mixture of very modern productions and ultra-violent texts. And of course, among those who listen to Booba in 2002, there are rappers and future rappers.

This is how a whole section of French rap in the 2000s sought to appropriate the Temps Mort formula: rhythm, flows, vibes, influences… Many MCs will seek to follow in the Duke’s footsteps. But unfortunately for most of them, Booba is not willing.

Result of this gold rush, hardcore rap, rapological trend of the first decade of the 2000s will gradually become an extreme parody of itself. We will not name names, but in 2012 again, Youssoupha affirmed in “I have changed”, “I am not afraid, the other rappers are sub-Booba”. It’s not false, as good old Perceval would say.

Who knows ? It is perhaps partly because too many MCs have soiled his art that Booba has chosen to radically change register thereafter. Fortunately, that did not prevent Temps Mort from remaining timeless to the point of becoming intergenerational.

It’s a timeless and intergenerational album

In hip-hop culture, one of the debates that always comes up on the table, it’s the stubborn divide that remains between old school rap and new-school rap. On one side as on the other, many listeners refuse to open up to the great classics of the competing period, on the pretext that it is not part of their musical affinities. So, those who discovered rap in the early 2010s and who would be reluctant to listen to this album because old school rap doesn’t speak to them, this message is for you,

If a rap journalist remains mostly in the background, I will exceptionally end this tribute by telling you about myself. When Temps Mort came out, I was eight years old. Clearly, therefore, the rap virus had not yet infected me and Booba was for me, nothing more than a little teddy bear. I discovered it in 2006 with the album Ouest Side and the track “Boulbi”.

Already passionate about rap, I then decided to drink in some classics that have shaped the history of this music and I listened to Temps Mort for the first time in 2009. At that time, Booba had already moved on and released 0.9. His fourth album may well be the opposite of the first, but I still remember the shock wave that took me right in the face.

If I’m telling you this, it’s to tell you that, whatever your generation, and even if, like me, you’re not particularly ratpis, you must listen to this album. For all the reasons mentioned above, Temps Mort is still today a real rapological demonstration that any rap fan worthy of the name must know. 20 years later, it is even still very often cited among the favorite albums of your favorite rappers.

Paradoxically, even if this disc enjoys an unparalleled aura in French rap and Booba is well aware of it, the rapper has always been anti-nostalgia. At a time when a disappointed part of his backward-looking fans continues to mourn this bygone era, he has always shown a certain detachment from his previous work, constantly preferring to move forward and turn to the future. Still, keeping an eye in the rearview mirror never hurts. That’s why we must continue to transmit the magic of this album to future generations, if only for the love of culture.

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