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Although America is clearly at the top of the hip-hop food chain, France has always been a fairly close second, with a thriving scene that dates back to the mid-80s. A huge factor in the development of French hip-hop was the TV show HIPHOPaired, which featured music videos and live performances from global rap artists (even Kurtis Blow passed through one time). The show even pre-dated Yo! MTV Raps, suggesting that mainstream French culture was more ready to accept hip-hop than America was at that time.
Like hip-hop across the pond, and most other cultures, it was birthed in France through political movement and was used as a tool to protest the treatment of poverty-stricken citizens in Parisian ghettos and the racial discrimination immigrants and their children faced. It really was (and still is) their one true voice. The scene there has rapidly developed into something incredibly diverse-sounding—political hip-hop is still at the core, but gangsta and jazz-infused rap has also risen to prominence.
Rap evolved in France in a very similar way to what happened in the States but on a slight time delay, as it was the mid-90s where legends really started to be created. Some of this was thanks to the influence of Mathieu Kassovitz's iconic film, La Haine (which is basically a French Do The Right Thing), and its thumping hip-hop soundtrack that included pioneering groups such as Assassin and NTM. The French hip hop scene is still booming today, especially in Paris, which has a fierce underground scene and where most of the country's prominent rappers reside.
Here are 10 French rap acts that you really need to know know.