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Kery James is a French rapper of great popularity who was a member of the pioneering duo Idéal J alongside renowned producer DJ Mehdi. In 2001, after some time away from the French rap scene, James made his solo album debut with Si C'était à Refaire, a Top Five hit on the French albums chart. Born Alix Mathurin on December 28, 1977, in Les Abymes, Guadeloupe, West Indies, he was raised in Orly, a suburb of Paris. He began rapping in 1989 and made his recording debut a couple years later with a guest feature on "Raggajam," a song on MC Solaar's classic debut album, Qui Sème le Vent Récolte le Tempo (1991). Shortly thereafter James founded the rap duo Idéal Junior with DJ Mehdi, and they released the 12" single "La Vie Est Brutale" (1992) on the French dance label On the Beat. Shortening their billing to simply Idéal J, the duo released two full-length albums in subsequent years, O'riginal MC's Sur une Mission (1996) and Le Combat Continue (1998). Released on Barclay, a subsidiary of Universal, Le Combat Continue is a classic French rap album, featuring the hit single "Hardcore." Around this same time, James was featured as a member of the group Mafia K'1 Fry on the album Légendaire (1998). The violent death of a close friend in 1999 convinced James to give his rap career a rest, however. A couple years later he returned with his solo album debut, Si C'était à Refaire, his first of a series of major-label releases on Warner. Marking a substantial change in direction for James, the album was self-produced, largely autobiographical, and more positive-minded than his past work, which had been "hardcore." Si C'était à Refaire was also a huge success, breaking into the Top Five of the French albums chart and spawning the hit single "Y'a Pas d'Couleur." Firmly established as a French rap star after the success of his solo debut, James reunited with Mafia K'1 Fry for the album La Cerise Sur le Ghetto (2003) and released a double-disc various-artists charity album, Kery James Presente Savoir & Vivre Ensemble (2004). His second solo album, Ma Vérité (2005), was another blockbuster, charting within the Top Five of the French albums chart. The follow-up album, À l'Ombre du Show Business (2008), was similarly popular, peaking at number three on the albums chart. ~ Jason Birchmeier