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Noir d****

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Album Review

Always one of the most thought-provoking, intelligent, and controversial rappers on the thriving French urban scene, 32-year-old MC Youssoupha Mabiki's last album became just as prominent in the courts as it did in the charts, thanks to a contentious track which many felt appeared to issue a death threat against political journalist Eric Zemmour. Judging by his third studio album, Noir Desir, the French-Congolese star, who subsequently lost the lawsuit filed by the writer, hasn't let the furor dampen his free-wheeling spirit. Indeed, the follow-up to 2009's Sur Les Chemins du Retour is arguably even more defiant, tackling the aforementioned trial head on with "Menace de Mort," a clattering percussive number based on a neo-classical loop more suited to a period drama, while also offering his own unique perspectives on everything from the state of modern rap to social injustice. In lesser hands, the constant diatribes could become the only focal point, but Youssoupha's ear for melody and inventive genre-hopping production are just as strong as his outspoken beliefs. The acoustic flamenco of "L'Amour," the gospel-tinged "Viens," and the Bollywood-inspired "J'ai Change" set the eclectic tone immediately, and while there are the odd nods to U.S. contemporaries such as the Kanye West-esque dramatics of "Irreversible" and a Bruno Mars-style collaboration with German-Rwandan vocalist Corneilles on "Histoires Vraies," it's a record which largely refuses to pander to international audiences. The breezy rumba of "Les Disques de Mon Pere" and the Afrobeat folk of the title track pay respect to his heritage on collaborations with father Tabu Ley Rochereau and Congolese street band Staff Benda Bilili respectively, while the likes of the aggressive dubstep of "La Vie Est Belle" and the claustrophobic Gallic hip-hop of "B.A.O." prove he hasn't abandoned his street roots either. If he can avoid any legal ructions this time 'round, Noir Desir might be best remembered as the most impressive French hip-hop record of the year. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi

Customer Reviews


Best French Rap Album of 2012. Lyrics are great and the beat is just the best. Love all the songs.
J'attends impatiemment le prochain album. Le Rap Francais est de retour.

Youss, tu dechires….

French Rap is ALIVE, besides US Rap I doubt there is any other country with mature Rap as there is in France. Youssoupha took the best of Rap and traditional French Song-Writing cultures. Been listening to French Rap for more than 20 years and I'm still lovin' it !!!


This is an amazing album for French speaking people or simply fans of French hip hop. By far, Youssoupha is the best rapper France has produced so far! I have been living in the US for 10 years now and I used to love hip hop but lately the US contemporary hip hop scene does no longer appeal to me.
This album by Youssoupha is an amazing one for music lovers and lyrics conscious listeners. Superb!!


Born: Kinshasa, Congo

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Born in Kinshasa, French hip-hopper Youssoupha is a member of an African music legacy. Son of Congolese rumba forefather Tabu Ley Rochereau, commonly known as "Seigneur Ley," it could be said that Youssoupha was destined for musical greatness. Though very influential, Youssoupha's exposure to his father's musical genius was short-lived. He relocated to Paris at the age of ten to pursue his education. Fueled by his love of literature as a youth, Youssoupha found himself drawn to rap. Thanks to his...
Full Bio
Noir d****, Youssoupha
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Customer Ratings