Chapter 1 – “J’accuse”: Postcolonial Paris

Chapter 1 – “J’accuse”: Hip Hop’s Postcolonial Politics in Paris

Chapter Abstract

Chapter 1 tracks the postcolonial politics at play in Parisian hip hop, introducing common themes and sonic strategies that will arise in all three of this book’s metropolitical and national contexts. Drawing on fieldwork experiences with hip hop communities in Paris in the spring of 2007, it introduces the political discourses in hip hop during the run-up to the national elections that would see Nicholas Sarkozy—sworn enemy and favorite target of French hip hop—elected to the presidency. The chapter provides a workable background to understanding the cultural and political terrain at that pivotal time and offers a look at the network of shared ideas as well as the fractures and diversity within French hip hop at the time. The themes that emerge center around ideas of migration, assimilation, diversity, hybridity, fusion, and multiculturalism, with an ear tuned as much to the global and international as to the local and the national. Notably, the ways that the critiques are framed center around the national Republican ideals of liberté, egálité, fraternité. As such, these artists explore the ideological contradictions of Enlightenment thought in the Parisian context as a way to both assert their differences from and claim their place in the nation.

Chapter Keywords: Paris, France, liberté, égalité, fraternité, Sarkozy, hip hop, multiculturalism, racism, secularism, immigration

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Chapter Media

Repping Aulnaywood: Skalpel and Pizko on Stage with “Aulnaywood” T-Shirts at Ras L’Front Concert (photo by the author).



Pizko, “Ciencia de Barrio”


Axiom on stage at the Festival Etudiant Contra le Racisme (Students Against Racism Festival) reading “Ma lettre au président” (photo by the author).



La France metissée, on l’aime et on y vit!”: Axiom in front of the banner for the Students Against Racism Festival (photo by the author) and a close-up of the photo collage’s face map of many hues (right) from FECR promotional materials.



Axiom, “Ma lettre au président”



Daïland booth at Alliance Urbaine. From left to right: Klepto, Kezo, Alternatif, and Akil (photo by the author)..



Album art for Daïland/Dieland Crew’s CD Ghetto Music



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