Chapter 6 – Marché Noir: The Hip Hop Hustle in the City of Light
This chapter concludes the book’s examination of the interrelated conscious/gangsta and vernacular/commerce binaries in hip hop and turns its focus to the art/life binary–the book’s third pillar. It begins in the hip hop community of a Parisian radio station and its weekly Marché Noir live hip hop show, examining the ways that such communities are formed. By tracking the group Blackara and their self-defined “arriviste” (hustler) ideology, I attempt to register how hip hop becomes both a vocation and a lifestyle, a performed hustle and a performative avocation. As we will see, hip hop is simultaneously a music, a culture, and a way of being in and knowing the world. The chapter interrogates the sonic form of Blackara’s “arriviste” hip hop consciousness and tracks the valences of black conspicuous consumption as a subversive act in this capital of haute couture by considering Blackara’s postcolonial gaze from the city’s margins. The chapter concludes by looking at the music of Marché Noir regulars associated with the Capitale Sale (Dirty Capital) record label.
Chapter Keywords: hustlers, black market, community radio, Blackara (music group), Nicolas Sarkozy, Capitale Sale (record label), alternative economies, gangsta rap, conspicuous consumption, Négritude
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Taping of Marché Noir in the Studios of Radio Plurielle. Xiao (rapping) and Mani (bottom right) and host Tarik at board in control room (in white) (photo by the author).
DJ Dirty Swift producing live beats for the MCs from the control room of Marché Noir in the Studios of Radio Plurielle (photo by the author).
Blackara, “Bang Bang”
Blackara, “Les Arrivistes”
“Les Arrivistes” – Xiao and Mani exhibiting their “personalized” styles (photo by the author).
Xiao’s design for the Offensive Records t-shirt (back and front) (photo by the author).
For them I am:
less than nothing,
a robber, lazy,
a delinquent, a savage,
an outcast, a coward,
a prisoner, the bad guy,
an ignoramus, an imbecile,
a problem, a good for nothing,
a modern slave
But when I look at myself in my mirror, I see: a father, a son, a brother,
a ghter, a genius,
the future, a go-getter,
a hard worker, a thinker,
a free man.
they judge us but . . .
They do not know who we are
Wira and Greg “The Greek” in studio one with sound booth at rear (photo by the author).
Boramy in studio two with a stack of LPs (photo by the author).
Left: Overlapping Posters on a Place de la Bastille street light. Right: Detail of cover art for the Ecoute la Rue Marianne hip hop compilation album (photo by the author).