Filed under: Album Reviews
We’re going continental here at FDB again. ‘Paris Sous Les Bombes’ is categorically one of the best albums to emerge from the French scene and is the product of another of the country’s extremely successful hip hop outfits. Made up of MCs Kool Shen and Joey Starr and a range of different producers, Supreme NTM are an unabashedly hardcore group that is suggested by their name itself: ‘NTM’ stands for ‘nique ta mere’ which translates as ‘fuck your mum’. I’m not sure what message this sends out to the people buying their records, but it is a signifier of the fact that these Parisian boys mean business and do not intend to cover up their often brutal message.
Formed in 1989 and with six albums now under their belts, the group have had serious success in their homeland with their latest effort approaching platinum status. The lyrical content revolves heavily around the group’s feelings towards the police which are resoundingly negative, the violence of life on the streets and their various battles with the French authorities. They represent the voice of a disempowered and angry French youth who have lost all faith in the system and aren’t afraid to shout about it. I have always felt that the French language was well suited to rapping, and despite the odd transgression into shouting and ranting, the MCs have a smooth delivery that can be enjoyed despite the language barrier. The album also features a remix of ‘Affirmative Action’ off Nas’ ‘It Was Written…’ LP which sees the French boys hook up wih The Firm crew. The beat remains the same, but the presence of the Supreme NTM MCs puts a nice spin on the track.
The production is also solid, featuring many samples and drum breaks that you may recognise from American joints. This is not to say that the beats are simply lifted from their US counterparts: the samples are flipped with originality and flava. My favourite cut is ‘Tout N’est Pas Si Facile’ which is a serious head nodder with sweeping strings and a beautiful sax loop. Generally speaking the beats have a classic mid-’90s feel with heavy drums and funky samples laid over the top. Gotta love that.
Let me try and draw an analogy here with another French artist already featured on FDB with the use of something typically continental: coffee. If MC Solaar is a cafe au lait in a tall glass drunk in a cafe overlooking the Palace of Versailles, Supreme NTM are a triple espresso drunk from a short and stumpy mug in the roughest parts of the nation’s capital. Solaar is smooth, warm and fluid with a well rounded and subtle flavour. Supreme NTM are a thick, syrupy, caffeine-laden brew that will blow your head off. Both have their place in the wide spectrum of hip hop and both outfits demonstrate the quality of rap music in France, with neither being more valuable than the other. Peep it and enjoy.