The French Hip-hop is highly associated with African roots. The arrival of the minority groups in France was as a result of the past French slavery and colonialization. The initial immigrant community in France was established in the eighteenth century and intensified during the two decades of the World War II. The economic explosion that superseded this war created a need for workforce, which greatly surpassed the national potential, and the government’s resolution was immigration on a grand scale (Helenon 156). As a result of colonial links to Africa and the Caribbean, the French government fundamentally, but not exclusively, enlisted from these regions and organized migration to continental France. Through immigration, the immigrants took over the hip-hop music songs as a tool to respond to current challenges and address the contemporary situation of African societies.
Through hip hop, their message was clear, about the condition of the Black minority faced in France and the impoverishment of the African continent. The hip hop and rap genre among the immigrants provided an opportunity for the communities to speak in the first person and on a measure never achieved before. Furthermore, despite their ties to Africa, French rappers have incorporated two cultures. For instance, groups such as, La Rumeur or Bisso Na Bisso that described the uncertainty of their situation demonstrated it (Helenon 158). Such factors enabled these groups to forge their identities in France as a result of their deep roots in the nation. The greatest challenge that most hip hop immigrants face in the French nation is discrimination. In most cases, the songs describe the history of France, which the African immigrants played a significant role. Nonetheless, the parts where Africans are involved are never focused on. Cultural integration has also been a challenge to the rappers.
The film La Haine focuses on the experiences of three young male suburbanites on a day after riots erupted in their housing developments following the beating of one of their friends by the law enforcing officers (Siciliano 118). The film’s plot is in low rented housing projects commonly referred to as banlieues whose inhabitants are mainly immigrant laborers from France colonies majorly in the Northern and Western parts of Africa as well as Asia. These immigrants represent the communities that were brought in the nation to rebuild it after the World War II.
The first form of challenge faced by the youth is the police brutality that is experienced all through the plot of the film. In the film, the banlieues also demonstrates the challenges that the main characters, who are youth go through. There is a clear picture of a failed urban environment with dreadful housing (Daley). Throughout the film, there is a dwelling where the main activities involve illegal activities like selling of drugs and Hubert’s gymnasium. Schooling in the area is also not significant since none of the characters attends school despite being of age.
According to the film, the banlieu in which Hubert, Vinz and Said reside is an outskirt of the real city, Paris, with only a train as a connection between the two areas. For instance, in the film when the three misses the last train back home, they get themselves in an unfamiliar society. The three are arrested after leaving a fancy apartment building simply because they are frustrated for not being able to locate a man who owes Said money.
Daley, Suzanne.Giving Voice to France’s Poorest Youth, With Rhymes and Beats. Jan. 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/21/world/europe/giving-voice-to-frances-poorest-youth-with-rhymes-and-beats.html?_r=0. Accessed 14 February 2017.
Helenon, Veronique. “Africa on their mind: Rap, blackness, and citizenship in France.” The vinyl ain’t final: Hip hop and the globalization of black popular culture (2006): 151-166.
Siciliano, Amy. “La Haine: Framing the ‘Urban Outcasts’.” ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies 6.2 (2007): 211-230.
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