So this month in gay Paris, prophet of rage Monsieur R releases his fifth disc, Le Che – Une Braise Qui Brûle Encore. (Translation: The Che – A Cinder That Still Burns) Inspired by the spirit of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, the 32-year-old MC abandons the crossover ambitions that led him to collaborate with KRS-One, Prodigy, Akon and Ol’ Dirty Bastard on 2004’s Politiquement Incorrect, and instead spits rhymes like those that got him roasted by the French government three years ago.
Raised mainly in the Congo where his parents were born, Monsieur R also grew up in the hardcore département of Seine-Saint-Denis northeast of Paris known as “le neuf-trois” (“the 9-3”). After 20 nights of rioting broke out there and all over the poorer suburbs in 2005, French politicians tried to hang it all on hiphop. It was only last summer that Monsieur R got out from under a lawsuit brought against him by a politician suing him for “FranSSe,” a song supposedly an outrage to social decency. (Where have I heard that before?)
French hiphop isn’t all full of songs like Monsieur R’s “De Buenos Aires à Kinshasa,” his Molotov-cocktail current single featuring female MC Keny Arkana. But at least cats on the corner of my block nod their heads to rap that namechecks Lumumba and Che Guevara. Below: the “FranSSe” video.