France to host first awards ceremony for rap, R&B and afro music | France #France #host #awards #ceremony #rap #afro #music #France

France, the second biggest market for rap music in the world after the US, will host its first awards ceremony for rap, R&B and afro music on Thursday, following years of criticism that the popular genres are woefully under-represented at the country’s mainstream music awards.

Rap, R&B and afro dominate streaming downloads in France in what is considered to be a new golden age for French rap, four years after the US hip-hop magazine DJBooth deemed greater Paris area the world’s most successful city for hip-hop.

Last year, more than half of France’s 20 top selling albums were by French rappers. Rap accounted for 65% of downloads on streaming platforms last year, but beyond the specialist radio stations Mouv’ and Skyrock, it makes up only 12% of music broadcast on French radio.

Rap’s absence from France’s mainstream music awards has long been a source of controversy and scandal. There was a wave of indignation when rising young star Tiakola was overlooked for “revelation of the year” at February’s Les Victoires de la Musique awards, despite his acclaimed performance on stage.

Now two media companies, Booska-P and Yard, have organised the first awards ceremony – Les Flammes – to recognise and celebrate culture they say grows out of working-class neighbourhoods, “and the creativity of the people that make it”.

The ceremony, supported by Spotify, will take place on 11 May at the Châtelet theatre in Paris.

“We wanted a ceremony that looks like us, with no concessions, and transparent. This is a ceremony of popular culture so we wanted the people to have access to it,” said Amadou Ba, co-founder of Booska-P.

Les Flammes has created a list of categories that reflect the diversity within rap and other black music. The public can vote and their vote counts for 50% in most categories, with a gender-balanced jury that will be changed each year. In another point of difference with mainstream awards, which are broadcast live on television, the three-and-a-half-hour event, including 14 live performances, will be streamed on YouTube and the live-streaming service Twitch.

Mekolo Biligui, a writer and member of the jury, said the diversity of the awards – there will be 21, including an award for Caribbean music – will allow France to consider the very essence of its rap culture.

“Rap is an Afro-American music at is base. It’s fed by those Afro sounds and it feeds into Afro sounds. This is a festival of black culture in France,” Biligui said. “At the UK’s Brit Awards in 2020, the rapper Dave won album of the year with Psychodrama. In France, it would be impossible for a rapper to win that prize of album of the year in any genre.”

Nominated artists include the acclaimed Aya Nakamura for female artist of the year. In 2021, she was the most streamed francophone artist in the world, with 1.5m sales. The same year, she topped 1bn listens on Spotify. Her three concerts later this month at Paris’s Accord Arena, one of the biggest venues in France, sold out in less than three hours.

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The French rap legend Booba, whose career spans nearly 30 years, 10 solo albums and more than 3m album sales, is nominated for concert of the year for his Stade de France gig last year.

Tiakola, 23, who was overlooked at the Les Victoires de la Musique awards, is nominated in six categories including male artist of the year. He grew up on the 4000 estate in La Courneuve outside Paris, and began in the group 4keus before his first solo album, Melo, was released last year.

Biligui said the model for the ceremony was US-style awards, such as the BET Awards, the Grammys and MTV awards. She said she was looking forward to walking up the red carpet dressed in “street-chic”.

“We deserve to celebrate ourselves. We’ve got nothing to prove to those who’ve overlooked our culture for years. Beyond music, it’s a whole culture, a way of talking. This is something created by us, for us.”

#France #host #awards #ceremony #rap #afro #music #France

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