Posted by Dave
Rap News Network
11/18/2005 7:48:04 AM
Tags and topics realted to this article include Various Artists.
PARIS, November 18th - Politicians caught on the hop by France's worst urban unrest in almost 40 years might have been better prepared it they had listened to some rap and hip hop music.
French rap singers for years predicted violence would erupt in run-down suburbs and have a lot of influence on youngsters who see them seen as little less than the voice of truth.
The rap singers are now urging politicians to pay more attention to them and their music.
Rapper Rost, who grew up in a poor part of Paris, has been singing for years about the frustrations of unemployed youngsters with few opportunities which were widely seen as factors behind three weeks of unrest in poor neighbourhoods.
"Rap is a cry of anger, a cry for help. Politicians should listen to rappers, and their lyrics," said 29-year-old Rost, who is of Togolese origin.
"These people have nothing. Their brothers are unemployed. Their parents are unemployed. And when they apply for a job, they won't get it because they have the wrong address or the wrong origins."
Rost runs his own record label and has sold 250,000 records. He says rap is the voice of hope for many teenagers.
"Rappers are the real politicians. We see how people suffer and we are the most apt to talk about it because we have lived the same thing," Rost said in an interview in his tiny recording studio in a cellar in the northeast of Paris.
"I grew up with nine people in a 20 sq metre (215 sq foot) room. I used to spend all my time outside, because our place was so crowded. I was too ashamed of bringing anyone home," he said.
Many of his friends took drugs and had trouble with police for thefts.
"If I hadn't had rap, I'm not sure where I would be today," Rost said.
Sociologist Manuel Boucher said many conditions in France were similar to those in the United States, where the hip hop movement began in the 1970s, with African Americans expressing their anger over discrimination through music.
"With hip hop, France had to realise that contrary to what it was thinking, it had a lot in common with U.S. society," Boucher said.
"Hip hop emerged here because we have poor suburbs where many immigrants' children live, who want to make a link between the culture of their parents and the modern, multicultural, multiethnic but unequal society they live in," Boucher said.
He said French authorities had an ambiguous relationship to rappers, explaining that politicians often praised them as successful youths who had managed to overcome society's hurdles but also said some of their songs incited hatred.
The group Sniper, whose members come from a bleak suburb north of Paris, is under investigation for encouraging violence against police. In its song "France", Sniper sings of a "mission to exterminate ministers and fascists."
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