Art trap or recipe for success?

ziyak Show it to us Creating a character from scratch with a well-defined universe, style, and music can greatly contribute to the commercial success of artists who follow this path. However, if this recipe sounds like the perfect starting point for attracting attention and pushing jobs, French rap has proven time and time again that characters often rush into artistic predicaments.

Featuring a powerful voice, strong identity, and a very distinctive style of dress and music, the characters of the French-speaking scene often wrap themselves in a world on the fringes of rappers and other rappers in the scene in which they are developing. Admittedly, almost all artists in the French scene develop their artistic image as a character as such, with a well-defined nickname, music and visual identity. But here, we will focus on the profiles with the most advanced characteristics and their very own music, sometimes carried over to the first or second order.

Lateness and attention

Back in 2016. With his medium-length hair, manicured beard, fast glasses and the famous Gameboy Color bob, pinned to the skull, Lorenzothe rapper from the group Rennes Columbine who wears an unusual look explodes the counters with his famous “Freestyle du Sale”. Now accumulating more than 92 million views on YouTube, the rockstar track seems to find its success in a particular cocktail: between sloppy punchlines, identifiable gimmicks, dull expressions and a clear lexical field, the rapper delivers a freestyle full of sarcasm, questionable stages and not Audio trips are very convenient.

From this first track, many listeners seem to be fascinated by the character’s world, which is based on a mixture of run/pop, very distinctive “mamène”, “dirty” or even “you know it” style tricks and punchlines as elusive as It is unattainable. With his second-class push, Jeremy Serandor has just created, in one video, the viral character Lorenzo. So it stands to reason that he will continue to get the attention that is drawn to him by gradually dropping clips, songs and videos onto his Youtube channel, releasing his first mixtape “Empereur du Sale” in the same year.

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If Lorenzo’s character is meant to be a caricature, satire, or simply a second-rate rapper, the interest he elicits is very tangible, and by contrast he embodies with the French-speaking rap scene and its heads. Those who take rap music seriously, their notoriety grows. Continuing this same momentum, he released new albums, clips and songs, which in turn collected tens of millions of views and streaming.

By synthesizing powerful phrases, well-characterized style, unique gimmicks and an attitude paired with a voice of his own, Lorenzo succeeds in building a character with a solid world and music with certain commercial success, proving once again that the characters are as sculpted as he is and who position themselves on the margins of the solemnity that dominates The French rap is an effective way to attract and retain an audience. Because yes, personalities in French rap, there were some before Lorenzo, and they also managed to effectively attract the audience.

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With his smoky glasses, sparkling jewelry, and shining skull, the rapper the bot He is an expert on the subject. Since beginning his career in 1998 with his group Unite 2 Fire, the rapper has tackled themes that wear pretty much below the belt, punctuating his routines with Adlibs made up primarily of insults, and with a certain mastery of provocation, feel free to make headlines with his song or album titles, as It is evident from the name of the first project that he launched as a soloist: “Sucez moi avant l’album”.

Surrounded by a complete sordid fantasy that he forged himself, Atef Al Kahlawi in his real name does not fail to remind us that Al Kabout is anything but a character.like here, for Essonne info: “I’m every man in real life, just like you, like everyone else. Alkpote is a character, kind of a double who just wanted to get out of my head. Kind of a Gainsbarre you see? I made it when I started, after a lot of thought and sugary evenings. For a special rap B, I quickly added surprisingly violent little keywords. I added a bit of verbal abuse that immediately stuck to my character. It worked, and I’m still the number one surprise today.”

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However, during his appearances on video, on radio, in podcasts or on networks, the occasions when the demonic Alkpote was arrested by Alkpote seem pretty rare, and with good reason, his character is still received, after more than 23 years of his career. . Sure success. But what will happen next?

danger of deadlock

In this floor-to-ceiling plastic room where a few string knives are hung, Ziac, a dark character with a masked face in bandana patterns reminiscent of gangster models on the American coast, is somewhat intriguing from his first clip. With his powerful phrases, training productions with rhythmic, disturbing vocals and a slightly driven voice, the rapper performs his popular clip “Rasputin” at the end of January 2020. While the Drill phenomenon in France is still in its infancy, Ziak is capitalizing on the onset of this excitement to fit in a place that is still Far from saturated: he has free space to create a completely separate character.

In all of his pieces, Ziac continues to develop superior music: in increasingly dark and harsh works with melodramatic melodies, he appears as a kind of disguised and armed superhero villain, noting without moderation the fact that he possesses the deadliest of weapons, smokes and sells the most powerful products, and that he leaves gaps in the bodies of his opponents.

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With a new type that didn’t yet have fixed symbols in France in 2020, Ziak relied on the elements that make up the British drill to make him a complete figure. : a masked face modeled after the famous “no face no case” (British neighborhood formula intended to get rappers to hide their faces to avoid legal action, literally: “no face, no case”), dark clothing that goes unnoticed and a sharp, sporty look Blades in many sections to destabilize the opponent.

If these items came from real symbols used in some disadvantaged areas of the UK, Ziak skillfully imported them to France by transferring them from a social context for purely recreational purposes, reinforcing their cold and brutal image. And the result is there: in a few days Rasputin’s clip easily passes the one million views on YouTube, and the following clips also know a largely positive fate. 45 million views later for his popular nickname “Fixette”, Ziac has logically positioned himself as France’s leading rapper. But also as one of the most prominent figures of French rap in recent years.

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If he has greatly contributed to popularizing the Drill movement in France, his character is also part of his desire to set himself apart from other French rappers through his wildest, coldest, and most threatening imagery as he embodies a bathing character. in the shade. Sure, many debates thrived on the internet regarding the veracity of his remarks, but in the end, regardless of rumors about his true past and whether his sentences really detail his day-to-day life: one thing remains for certain, that Ziac is a complete personality, and that by His anonymous and non-existent sermons, his character are drawn to his obscurity, and thus, he works to highlight his music in a way that is almost viral.

However, the Drill movement has since taken root in France, so Ziak, by strengthening his character and the hallmarks that shaped him, to continue to distinguish himself, also takes a big risk: That he was no longer able to take on other artistic directions, and finally, prevented him from his own role, to the point of making Ziyak a caricature of his character.

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Whether for Lorenzo, Alkpote or Ziak, these French rap personalities seem, throughout their careers, to face a critical choice: either continue to explore the niche they have led, or reinvent themselves by renewing the codes that build their personalities, risking losing a significant part from their audience.

Faced with this choice, the risk of continuing to make the music that made them famous may put them in a certain artistic predicament, forcing them to make music similar to the one they still perform until the end of their careers. Today: This is at the moment, the path chosen by these three artists, who, despite a few attempts to explore sounds different from their usual niche, remain consistent with the music they have been performing since their beginnings. However, despite this lack of renewal, their personalities speak for themselves: After 23, 6, and 2 years of working with Alkpote, Lorenzo, and Ziak, their monthly listen numbers have definitely declined compared to their show’s peak. Just right: every appearance of characters through clips or albums often exceeds a million views or plays, and that’s even today.

So rappers have proven it: it is entirely possible to make a career, even if it lasts more than 20 years, by composing only the same (or almost) music. However, behind these iconic and powerful personalities, a portion of the French scene is still fascinated by their images and music. What if these artists tried to rotate 180 degrees by embarking on completely different musical niches? Their fan base may have followed their experiences, even if it means reinventing the character they’ve been forging all these years, maybe not. One thing is for sure, the characters in French rap seem to have a long life ahead of them, so whether we like them or not, let’s continue to follow their counter-proposals closely.

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