Censorship in French rap

In a so called land of freedom where people are supposed to have equal rights, rap music is more than censored by an incomprehensive government. French rappers such as NTM:

And Sniper had to face lawsuits because they expressed their opposition towards the police and the French government in particular.
People in France are very lucky that a facist and racist such as Jean Marie Le Pen hasn’t been elected. Le Pen intended to forbid completely rap music and metal, because he thinks « rap and metal can’t be called music. »
This man endangers our fundamental rights and if he’d ever got elected, I’d leave France immediatly. But still, Chirac’s government isn’t very tolerant and seems to have something in common with President Bush : they both don’t seem to concentrate on real threats.
NTM is one of the most controversial rap group in France :

They have the courage of their opinions and they often target the police. In 1995, on July the 14th, « SOS Racisme » organized a concert where NTM was present. This concert raised some scandal. Kool Shen and Joey Starr pointed their fingers on the policemen while singing :

« I fuck the police up in the ass and on justice I pee.
The cops are the real facists. Those are the ones who assasinate people. »

On November the 14 th 1996, both have to face 3 months jail charges with a total interdiction to sing on the French territory for six months.
But those sanctions didn’t stop them at all from speaking their minds : on June the 14 th 1997, at the Rock Festival that took place in Paris, NTM flipped the bird in front of the whole crowd : « Fuck the FN, fuck Jean Marie, fuck the police. »

It is also reported that NTM were sentenced to two months of probation and condamned to pay
50 000 francs.
France is a mainly conservative country that is surrounded by closed minded people. Ghetto people are often stereotyped as dumb and violent. A French middle class sociologist dared saying on TV that ghetto people were unable to adapt to other people and presented them as inferior. In fact, ghetto people have to struggle harder than other people. It is also well known that applying to a job is easier in France when your first name is Mary than if it is Ahmed.
The middle classes are often totally ignorant of what ghetto people are going through and they are very fast in judging them badly. They don’t understand why they get so easily involved in drug deals. The answer is easy, though : many ghetto people in France are not given the chance to find a regular job easily and peddling drugs is a easy and fast way to get much money in a short time. That’s why many people get involved in illegal business. People from the middle classes hardly accept rap as a part of popular culture into the hexagone and in private schools rap is totally despised as a musical genre.
Another rap group, Sniper, has been targetted as anti semitic because they talked about the Israeli Palestinian conflict. In my opinion, their views are impartial and they keep talking about the injustice of the conflict. They have also criticized the French government’s policy and spoken about their hypocritical democracy. The police gets insulted and everybody’s so shocked. But nobody seems to be shocked by the police’s burs and scandals such as the death of Malik Oussekine, a French /Algerian student who was killed by the police in 1986 :

(editorial reviews-part dedicated to the death of Malik Oussekine.)

You can learn more about Sniper in this article from The Guardian

In fact, the French right political party is composed of narrow minded people who also give a bad image abroad. They privilege rich people and totally ignore problems the poor working classes are confronted to. That’s why violence is sometimes their only way to be listened to. That’s what Sniper is trying to say.
Are we living in a democracy of hypocrisy ? I bet you already know the answer.

9 thoughts on “Censorship in French rap”

  1. a really great article, that is of much use to my coursework about french rap!, thank you, i could basically just translate the whole thing straight in to french and give it in, but dont worry i wont!!!
    if anyone knows of any other articles like this one floating about the net, could u send me them or the urls for them. MUCH APPRECIATED!!

  2. hi. i’m american, i’m just checking out french rap for shits and giggles.I agree that music shouldn’t be censored and it cool that the music is use to express your opinion, but to say that rap music is just for ghetto people is fucken stupid and shows how close minded you are. being “ghetto” is being ignorant. if you are the poorest person in the world it doesn’t mean you are ghetto. being ghetto is a a state of mind of stupidity. there is not reason to sell drugs either. You expect rap to be recognized and respected by being ghetto that’s just asking to be discriminated upon. if you wan’t to check out intellegent rap don’t got to the radio or tv thats what big brother wants us to see. go deeper, go underground. Check out Sage Francis he’s touring Europe. Immortal technique is good too. oh yeah french is hard to learn.. too many fucken rules and exeptions.

  3. gavin you are the gayest kid i know. next time i see you i’m going to punch you in the gut.

  4. You didn’t mention that Sniper won on court. We’re still a country with many rights and justice can be fair most of the times. don’t forget that. but I agree rappers shouldn’t even be trialed for their lyrics. in the case of sniper the dumb asses didn’t understand the lyrics.

  5. juan, you misunderstand his point. The word “ghetto” can have different meanings, which you obviously fail to comprehend.
    The author stated that “Ghetto people…stereotyped as dumb and violent. A French middle class sociologist…presented them as inferior.” The context implies “ghetto” means belonging to the poorer lower class, which strongly contrasts you definition of “being ‘ghetto’ is being ignorant.”
    In addition, the author was attempting to explain why the lower class is motivated to sell drugs. He says “many ghetto people in France are not given the chance to find a regular job easily” in attempt to explain why people sell drugs. It was not a justification.
    Moreover, the author is not asking anyone to respect rap for it being ghetto. Rather, he implies rap, which has ghetto roots, should not be discarded as inferior.

  6. Sniper is one of the best french rap groups. I don’t know if they are anti-semitic or not…
    But not once is it mentioned in their music. On the contrary, i find they point out objectively the problems of french society,
    american politics, environmental subjects… All problems we should all be concerned about!!

  7. Shame,Shame,Shame…just like america isn’t it.
    It’s easy to fall victim to the lure of fast cash when you don’t have ANY! That’s the bottom line. Ghetto is both a tangible place and a state of mind. The Ghetto is the place where poor people live, the forgotten, the looked over, those we don’t care about. We don’t renovate in the ghetto, we don’t educate in the ghetto, we leave the police in the “ghetto” not to fight crime but to make sure the poor don’t “seep out”. We turn our heads to all the dirty things cops do saying they deserve what they get. You ever had a glock 19 pointed at your head behind a flash light with a 1000 watt bulb in it, over a minor traffic violation, been frisked, had some wank reach down in your pants and grab your personals, made to lay down on the surface of the street while they search your vehicle? when they can’t find anything what do they do? Let you go? Heavens no, they call a k-9 unit for back-up, let’s search it one more time JOE. By the time it’s all over there are 3 or 4 cars behind yours with flashing lights. All to let you go with a warning, why cause you never did anything wrong in the first place, they just want to keep you in “CHECK”. I think ghetto becomes a state of mine when the people actually living in it give up the fight to get something better. Something like a coping mechanism. They start to feel as though there’s no hope, nothing will ever change, things will never be different, sort of a “I was born here, I was raised here, I’m here now, I’m gonna die here”.
    Don’t give up on the fight. The hell with the police, the hell with the record industry. I don’t care what country your in. Stay underground, Sell your own cd’z or give them away and when you get popular make a killing going on tour and pocket all the money yourself! That’s the way you hit em. And don’t forget where you come from. Go back and make a contribution to your community, doesn’t have to be money, educate somebody, help somebody make an album of there own, teach them the game, bring back some hope. Do SOMETHING!

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