France is an interesting market, music wise. In this seasonal series, we’ll focus on French or French-speaking artists that are getting recognition here in Paris, so that next time you visit, you hopefully won’t be lost — as you’d have read the names here first, knowing exactly what hip and trendy Parisians are dancing to this summer.
Getting international as a French artist or band has always been easier for the ones who produce. The interprets notoriously had it harder for the longest. Just like other foreign musical movements, French music is finally getting some recognition worldwide, thanks to, a really crazy 2016 that saw the arrival on a global scene of a lot of diversity! The late 2010s are responsible for the emergence of a new underground scene that put French-speaking artists on the biggest stages worldwide, from Coachella announcements and disappointments, to sold-out arenas worldwide.
Here are 5 names that prove that, from EDM to hip hop, French savoir-faire really is everywhere.
The man that once held a concert, live, on top of the Arc de Triomphe… You may know him for bangers like “Turn Down For What”, “Lean On” and “Let Me Love You”. After a two-year hiatus from nightclubs and stadiums, the music mogul made a global comeback with the release of a series of triple-A collaborations. His newest album is still covered in secrets: the only information he gave to the public was… a release window. “My album is coming in the summer, it looks like a carnival”, the DJ said, in a recent interview with Beats 1’s Zane Lowe. “Different styles, coming from different parts of the world”. That’s all we got. So far, several singles have been released, all going in a different direction. The latest is a nod to Ferrari, with a track called Enzo, featuring an impressive host of rap superstars: Offset, 21 Savage, Sheck Wes and Gucci Mane.
The hip hop group, which stands for “peace and money” in French slang, are two brothers Nos and Ademo. The first, Nabil, is in his late twenties and the older, Tarik, in his early thirties, were basically unknown in 2014. Then, the duet took the industry by storm, with the release of four indie projects that broke all streaming records, putting them on the throne as France’s most exciting artists. What’s even more impressive? They never signed with any major label, or gave an interview. Ever. One of their latest singles, Au DD, is out on their own label, QLF Records. The track has been a viral hit — reaching 12 million views in 48 hours — with a cinematic video that features the duet on top of a fully-lit Eiffel Tower as they sing: “Don’t care about the Himalaya, I don’t care about reaching the top anymore”. With new records being broken weekly, it’s safe to assume the two will be around for a while.
The French producer has been a prominent name on the international scene for a long time. With good reason for that matter: working with important names such as Kanye West (producing tracks like Black Skinhead), just before releasing his first solo effort, Aleph, in 2013. Since then, Gesaffelstein has grown a solid fan club. And landing hits on the Billboard Top 100 thanks to prestigious collaborations, where the Canadian artist The Weeknd was one of them for instance. His latest body of work, Hyperion, is available for streaming on all platforms. In addition to it also features appearances from the likes of previously mentioned Abel Tesfaye and Pharrell Williams.
If we had to give a title to every artist on this list, Angèle would probably receive the best-thing-that-happened-to-Belgian-pop-since-Stromae award. The Walloon has done an incredible job captivating wide audiences on both sides of the French-speaking Belgian border. She has worked with the most prestigious names in the industry, from her brother and rap phenomenon Roméo Elvis, to rap veteran Mc Solaar. The latter being one of the biggest rap names in Europe for a long time. Angèle is most likely one of those artists you’ll hear everywhere. In a cab, in the club or in a nice bistro on a Sunday brunch. Leaving her tunes to be not only something that Parisians are dancing to this summer, but even you.
Xavier and Gaspard are the two minds behind Justice. The duo blew up internationally in 2007 with Cross, an ambitious, dark, yet funky album that managed to turn heads worldwide back towards Paris. The two wonderkids from Ed Banger were born at a time of prosperity in French music history. Following Daft Punk’s path, they turned out to be the heirs of the French touch movement. The duet has quickly reached legend status, through strong visuals. All of their videos have been either a huge phenomenon, or rather controversial. Justice has worked with France’s greatest talents, from Romain Gavras to So-Me. Just like the other duet of French electronica, you really want to experience them live. They’re known for delivering strong, religious-like music experiences to a very demanding fanbase that never stopped growing. Their latest project to date, Woman, was released in 2016 and has been both a critical and commercial success. The two are known for remaining low-key in any circumstances, so expect a project to be ready anytime soon… or in a few years.