La Rumeur

La Rumeur are a French hip-hop quartet with a strong base in the cités (or immigrant suburbs) of Paris, renowned for their politically subversive and confrontational lyrical content. Made up of MCs Ekoué, Hamé, Mourad, and Philippe (all graduates of French universities), La Rumeur identify themselves as not a French rap group, but rather a rap group for black immigrants living in France. They began recording and releasing their material independently in the late '90s. Their debut EP, Le Poison d'Avril, came out in 1997 and was sold at live shows or out of the trunks of cars. The records that followed, Le Franc Tireur (1998) and La Bavar & la Paria (1999), grew both La Rumeur's fan base and their reputation as the most violent, confrontational lyricists on the scene. Their full-length debut record, Ombre Sur la Mesure, was released in 2002, with lyrics paying homage to the immigrant experiences of their parents' generation.

The album's follow-up was a stark contrast to its predecessor's jazz influences and subtle anger. Regain de Tension (2004) was musically sparse and course, not to mention potentially the most violent record in French hip-hop's history. "This album is about hate and violence, from the first to the last track," said group member Hamé. La Rumeur used the record to call out French governmental authorities at every level for racism and injustice. They similarly criticized fellow rap artists for turning what was once a powerful political tool into frivolous pandering. It did not take long for both the French Minister of the Interior and the popular Skyrock Radio station to launch a full-scale counterattack, which kept the media's attention for better than a year. Accused of inciting violence against French police, La Rumeur spent significant time and energy in court rather than in the studio, causing fans to wait three years for the group's next release. The French government failed to silence La Rumeur, who released their next album in 2007, entitled Du Coeur à l'Outrage. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez

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