Culture, Foreign

Piaf, Movin,’ Lookin’ Down

France, it’s often remarked, is a bastion of haute-culture. Culturally speaking, it’s known to have nonporous borders that have been, if not entirely impervious, but definitely, resistant to outside influences.

Once an originator—not a borrower—of fads and fashions as far back as the 18th century, today, it’s is soaking up American hip-hop like a sponge.

Now, France has a thriving rap culture that rivals America’s.

Many consider France to be the most happening hip-hop scene after America.

In 2008, France won the world DJ-ing championship, a discipline that involves scratching and mixing tracks on two turntables, beating America into second place.

French breakdancers have won three of the past ten world championships. Over the past 25 years, French rappers have drawn on their banlieue culture to devise their own form of rap.

So, how did American mass music—rap and hip-hop, no less—make inroads in the land of Edith Piaf, Serge Gainsbourg, Maurice Ravel, and Claude Debussy?


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