Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Global System of Hip Hop Supremacy: Soprano was Number 1 in France

Soprano - Hiro
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Please note that Soprano was number one for two weeks, three weeks ago and is currently at number 16, in the World Album Charts he reached 30 and made it into Switzerland's Top20.

From This Is Africa:
Besides the US, do you know many countries where a rap single can enter the sales charts at Number 1? Soprano, a Marseille-based rapper from the Comoros Islands, sold almost 30.000 copies of his second album ‘La Colombe’ (The Dove) in the first week of its release! The last time a hip-hop artist entered the charts at number 1 was a year ago with Diam’s(who also happened to be France’s bestselling artist in 2006), also on Hostile Records, sub-label of Capitol/EMI France. 

Of course, the EMI marketing machinery is working well, and Hostile has been the top French rap label for many years. However, Soprano’s success is definitely not only a marketing one; he’s not a big muscles/big voice/big whatever shiny accessory-type guy: he represents a new generation of rappers who don’t take themselves too seriously and laugh at their own caricatures, as you can see in this video ‘Crazy’, in which he raps about his mad generation (the track has taken the dance floor by storm).

Another track, ‘Hiro’, was spontaneously taken up by the mainstream and underground, much to the surprise of his record company who didn't see it as an obvious commercial hit. The huge demand led to its release as the second single. It’s about heroes and historical role models, and it’s deep and political.


Despite the speed and magnitude of his success, Soprano remains humble, conscious and full of humour. ‘La Colombe’, the album title, is a reference to his first song that became a hit on the underground and to his constant search for peace. His motto is “Une colombe dans la plume et un corbeau dans le flow” (A dove in the pen and a raven in the flow).

Soprano first started rapping in 1995 with his original band PSY4 de la rime (‘psychiatrist of the rhyme’), which consisted of two other rappers of Comorian origin and another from Morocco. They released three albums with the support of IAM (the first and still most respected French rap band from Marseille), all went gold, before Soprano took off with his solo album, achieving platinum status (+250,000 units sold). They are all still a really good team, working together and featuring in each other videos (videos that often feature their city of Marseille).

As you probably know, Marseille, France’s second largest city, is one of the biggest Mediterranean metropolis, has a huge North African population and is a very important community from Comoros Islands. Soprano frequently refers to his family struggling in Africa, and though he grew up on an uncomfortable estate he is aware of life’s possibilities uses music to encourage his generation to grab their chance and build a positive life. Not surprisingly, he has recently been elected one of the most respected personalities of Marseille, next to Zidane!  (Related news: Just a few days ago, men armed with AK 47 assault rifles killed a 16-year-old boy and wounded an 11-year-old in two separate drive-by shootings in Marseille - Full story at Reuters)

Soprano is now in the middle of a sold-out tour all through France, and is said to be ‘une bête de scene’ – which translates as ‘stage animal’ - as he has a lot of fun performing live. He’s also been brave enough to try the international market – quite rare for French-speaking rappers who like their messages to be clearly understood and usually want to make a quick buck - by supporting Austrian-German rapper [[Chakuza[[ on his German, Austrian and Swiss tour. The welcome was such that Soprano is now having a German release and his own tour early next year. We hardly need wish him luck as we believe his style and energy will transcend many more language barriers across Europe.

Follow him on Facebook, and check out his MySpace page for some beautiful clips of acoustic live recordings with fellow Comorian musicians.

In DOPE Music WE Trust!

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