France’s Hip-Hop scene has been robust since the 1990’s. In fact, France is the second largest producer of Hip-Hop music in the world, second only to the genre’s birth country The United States. While many of the huge international Rap and Hip-Hop stars perform in English, if we’ve learned anything about the global music industry these past few years, you don’t need to speak the language to enjoy the music.
These five rising French artists all integrate Hip-Hop and R&B into their own unique sound. Get to know these five rising artists from France that are dominating their local music scene.
Hip-hop, R&B, House, Afrofusion, and everything in between, rising artist Alvin Chris says he “allows himself to everything” in terms of musical influences. Alvin Chris was born in Mons, Belgium to Congolese parents, but grew up in the small French town of Amiens. In 2014 after moving to Belgium for his studies, he dedicated his time and career to music.
Alvin Chris has been officially releasing music for years, but introduces himself in a new way with his latest EP, Enchanté. On one of his first singles leading up to his EP, “Question de temps” released in July, Alvin said he drew inspiration from Burna Boy and the Nigerian and Afropop scene. The track had all the elements for the perfect Summer single; percussive production, an infectious melodic hook, and of course, 80s soul-pop saxophone.
The entire project masterfully displays Alvin’s vast influences while showcasing his effortless flow and vocals. An avid fan of Hip-Hop, you can hear influences from modern artists like Anderson. Paak in “Baskets blanches” to early French Hip-Hop legends like MC Solaar in “Coucou c’est encore moi.”
Listen to Enchanté here.
20 year-old French artist Lean Chihiro oscillates between music, visual arts and modeling. In 2015, she found an international community through her Soundcloud, she recalls, “I realized through SoundCloud that there were a lot of people who looked like me and understood me. It encouraged me to accept myself.” Lean Chihiro was more than just accepted. In 2017, her freestyle on “Réglement Space #7” scored her serious attention, gaining more than a million streams for one of her first releases.
Lean Chihiro finds inspiration from the spiritual Neo-Soul of Erykah Badu to the Rap characteristics of Yung Lean. For her latest EP released in August, Teenage Humanoid, Lean Chihiro found herself incredibly influenced by Japanese pop culture. Produced by Issho, this EP is a testimony of all of her influences: Trap (“Pull Up”), Reggaetón (“Ice Cold Bubble Tea”), lyrics in English mixed with Japanese (“To The Max”), and for the first time in French for the track “Nuit.” “The goal of this EP,” says Lean, “is to motivate people to trust themselves, accept all the aspects of their personality.”
Listen to Teenage Humanoid here.
Nyoko Bokbae is paving the way for a new scene that breaks rules in order to reclaim them. Made up of Dourane, William, and Mag, the Parisian trio’s name ‘Nyoko Bokbae’ means “together” in Wolof, with their own twist on the end: “bae,” before anyone else. Nyoko Bokbae combines Nigerian musical influences with R&B, Zouk, Hip-Hop, and more. You can understand the collective’s influences and identity just by the languages spoken in their music, as they weave between French, English, and Wolof, the language commonly spoken in Senegal, France, Mauritania, and Mali.
We also can’t introduce Nyoko Bokbae without talking about one other thing: their image. There’s no denying the style element of all three members of Nyoko Bokbae. Dourane said in an interview, “It’s difficult to make music without making an image today. How you dress is the first thing you use to express yourself.”
Listen to VT ZOOK PART 1 here
For fans of American artist Amber Mark, French artist SYRA is an artist to add your playlist. Born in Paris to a Senegalese father and Malian mother, SYRA grew up on the records of Oumou Sangaré and Fela Kuti, while taking in albums from American soul and R&B artists like Erykah Badu and Beyoncé.
SYRA is gearing up to deliver her first EP, which finds itself somewhere between experimental Pop, Soul, Afrobeat, and R&B. Produced alongside Kamaal Williams and Loubenski, this project is the fruit of the great cultural richness of the Parisian, who speaks French, English, Dutch, and Bambara, one of the national languages of Mali. The first single off the project, “Secret Location,” could not be more proof of the incredible music that’s to come from this rising artist. The track opens with a bright acoustic guitar riff and met with SYRA’s beautiful voice while accompanied by an R&B and Afrobeat influenced production. “The goal is for my music to speak as much to my English soul-loving friends as to my mother, who is a fan of Salif Keïta,” says SYRA, “I want it to speak to the whole world.”
Listen to “Secret Location” here.
Born from a Franco-Lebanese father and Tunisian mother, USKY grew up in the 12th district of Paris and is a perfect representation of a generation that grew up in a cross-cultural environment. Music was always part of his life, as his father introduced him to music by taking him to shows and festivals at an early age. USKY was first introduced to Rap and Hip-Hop standing on his father’s shoulder during his very first show of iconic French band Suprême NTM when he was only 9 years old. The rest is history.
USKY is a rapper whose sound combines Rap with elements of R&B, Soul, and Rock. His recipe is measured for success, as his early projects Porte Dorée Saison 1, 2 and 3 earned him millions of streams. His newest EP TRILOGY, made up of the three tracks “Kill Bill,” “Ego,” and “Maria,” was produced during the 2020 social distancing measures. The project is a love story of something gone too soon. As USKY says, “This EP is a summer love, a short love story when you meet a girl during vacations and you know that you’ll never see each other again.”
Listen to TRILOGY here.