The French rap industry emerged in the 90s and was an underground culture for many years in France. It started with French hip-hop in Paris with some French rap artists that became famous such as MC Solaar or NTM or the most famous French rap DJ: Dee Nasty.
In the last decade, French rap became the mainstream music style in France and many different types of artists established themselves.
I made a selection of fifteen French rappers with a song that I liked for them. I decided to choose different styles of French rap music. There is a section with the newest French rappers and a second section with French Hip-Hop artists.
List of the Best New French Rappers
Let’s start this list of current French rappers!
I am a big fan of this French rapper from the suburb of Paris: Courbevoie. The cover picture was taken in my hometown when I went to his concert in February 2019. The French musician Kekra has an original speech about himself and his career. He feels kind of ashamed and not really proud of it. He would have preferred to become a lawyer or doctor and live his life anonymously with his parents proud of him.
Being a famous rapper is not a definition of success for him. This is the reason why he always wears a mask and sunglasses to stay anonymous. The French rap song “C’est bon”, is part of the good album “Land”.
Vald is now one of the main rappers in France with big streaming numbers on Spotify and YouTube. We can easily classify his rap in the troll rap category. “Désaccordé” is one of the big French rap hits of the year 2018 from the album “XEU”. He came back in 2022 with the excellent album “V”.
William Nzobazola known as Ninho is also one of the most important French rappers. He is a Parisian rapper born in the county of Essone from his parents with Congolese origins. He started to rap at a young age at the age of 12. He started his music career by releasing mixtapes. In 2016, he released the mixtape ‘M.I.L.S “, an acronym for “Maintenant Ils Le Savent” (= Now They Know) which will launch his career. A year later he released his first album “Comme prévu” with successful singles such as “Roro”, “Chino” and some prestigious features with Nekfeu, Gradur, and Sofiane.
In 2019, his second album will be a success too and Ninho will become the most-streamed French artist this same year on every music platforms. In 2020, he released his third album “M.I.L.S 3.0” and the single “Lettre à une femme” exploded the music charts. In 2021, he released a new album “Jefe” with the hit of the same name “Jefe” which is again a big success in the French rap music industry.
SCH is part of the French rappers from the city of the south of France, Marseille. Two cities gave the French rap scene lot of French artists, Paris the capital, and Marseille. This song of SCH was in honor of his father just after he passed away.
The French rapper does not look at all like a rapper and this is why I really like this French artist. He released this single “Gabrielle Solis” in 2018. He started in the art world first by acting and came later to rap. Besides rap, he played guitar in a rock band and he formed a duo beatmaker duo named Vaati. He definitely has more than one string to his bow.
This Parisian rapper became famous in France with the Charo dance that he invented. Charo comes from the French word Charognard (Scavenger).
This dance begins to be viral in France when the footballer Blaise Matuidi took it over and performed it after each of his goals. It was then renamed “Matuidi Charo”. Later, he came back with this famous French music that was everywhere.
PNL is a French rap group that you cannot miss in France. The title“91’s” is definitely one of my favorite songs from those two rappers. Fun fact, the two artists are also brothers.
I knew that one day I was going to write about the French musician Jul. You can recognize instantly his songs because he has a unique style using for example autotune. He is from Marseille and rap about friendship and love. Lots of French are really negative about him and do not consider him an artist.
I have to admit that I like his songs and sometimes my friends blame me for putting on his songs. The French rapper is really, really productive, he produces around three albums per year! “Asalto” is one of the many songs that I enjoy listening to Jul. His hand sign which you can see above represents the three letters of his name. French people love to take pictures doing it as a joke.
Lomepal is probably actually the most famous French rapper. He sings mostly about love stories. I like the song Paradise from Lefa where Lomepal did a collaboration. “Paradise” is about a love story that (you guessed) turns out badly.
Gringe belongs to the French rap duo “Les Casseurs Flowters” with Orelsan. In this French song, Gringe invited some of the best French rappers in “Qui dit mieux”. From this album “Enfant Lune” I also enjoy the song “Déchiré”.
The French rapper Orelsan created a famous French song that is now in French pop culture and many people make reference to it with the famous “Simple, basique”. I wrote an article about the lyrics of Basique. He is back in 2021 with a new album named ” Civilisation”, an album between love and hate.
L’odeur de l’essence
List of the Best Old French Rappers
Let’s start this list of French hip-hop artists!
- Suprême NTM
Suprême NTM is a French hip-hop group formed in 1989, made up of Kool Shen and JoeyStarr. The two MC’s are considered pioneers of French rap, having contributed to the popularization of the genre in the 90s.
The group has released several influential albums, including “Paris Sous Les Bombes” (1995) and “Suprême NTM” (1998). Their musical style is characterized by committed lyrics and varied instrumentation, blending influences such as jazz, funk, and reggae.
Over the years, Suprême NTM has collaborated with numerous French and international artists and producers, including IAM and American artist Nas. Their impact on the French hip-hop scene remains undeniable, and continues to influence the new generation of rappers.
IAM is an emblematic French hip-hop group from Marseilles. Formed in 1989, its members include Akhenaton, Shurik’n, Kheops, Imhotep, Kephren, and Freema. Their hard-hitting lyrics and pared-down instrumentation have shaped the French rap landscape.
Their first album, “De la Planète Mars”, released in 1991, was an immediate success and laid the foundations for their reputation. They went on to produce landmark albums such as “Ombre Est Lumière” (1993) and “L’école du micro d’argent” (1997), which went gold in France.
IAM tackle a wide range of issues in their songs, including social inequality, discrimination, and politics. Their live performances are also highly appreciated, with their boundless energy and remarkable stage presence. The group IAM remains an indisputable benchmark and has put Marseille on the map in the world of French hip-hop.
- MC Solaar
MC Solaar is an emblematic French rapper on the hip-hop scene. Born in 1969 in Dakar, Senegal, he arrived in France at the age of six months. He began his career in the 90s with poetic, committed lyrics.
The success of his first album, “Qui sème le vent récolte le tempo” (1991), brought French rap to the attention of the general public. MC Solaar is renowned for his incisive writing and fluid flow. Tracks like “Caroline” and “Bouge de là” illustrate this rich period for French hip-hop.
Over the course of his career, MC Solaar has moved on to more varied themes. He always kept his distance from rap clichés and developed a style all his own.
Booba has been a highly influential French hip-hop artist since the 2000s. Born in 1976, he hails from Boulogne-Billancourt (next to Paris) and began his career in the group Lunatic with Ali.
With nine solo albums to his credit, Booba is considered one of the pillars of French rap. His signature tracks include “Boulbi”, “Garde la pêche” and “Scarface”. He has also collaborated with international artists such as Akon, Rick Ross, and 2 Chainz.
His unique and controversial style has left its mark on the history of French rap, and continues to influence many young artists. Indeed, Booba never hesitates to take a stand on social issues and assert his point of view through his music.
In conclusion, French rap has emerged as a powerful cultural force, captivating audiences both in France and around the world. It has transcended linguistic and geographical barriers, becoming a voice for marginalized communities and addressing social and political issues with raw authenticity.
French rap has not only transformed the hip-hop landscape but has also become a vital medium for artistic expression, cultural exploration, and social commentary. Its impact and influence are undeniable, solidifying its place as a significant genre in the global music scene.
Finally, I hope you liked this article about my selection of the best French rappers. I invite you to read my articles about:
- 5 French Rap Songs from 2019 That You Should Know
- 5 French Rap Songs from 2020 That You Should Know
- Top 10 French Rap Songs of 2021
Find the Spotify playlist here: