France has long been known as the second home of hip-hop, thanks to the massive market for rap music in cities like Paris and Marseille. In fact, at a global level, Paris has come to be seen as important to the hip-hop genre as cities like Detroit and New York. A lot of that momentum is thanks to the commitment of a rising generation of French artists, who are rapping in their native tongue about French matters, and thus cultivating a rich and unique sound. One man currently making his unmistakable mark on Parisian rap is the gifted and stylish lyricist known as Alpha Wann.
Alpha grew up in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, and spent his teens and early twenties starting rap groups with cult followings, like 1995 and L’entourage. The former, 1995, ended up being a petri dish for Parisian rap’s future greats, and helped launch the careers of both Alpha and Nekfeu. But it’s Alpha’s critically acclaimed solo career that has cemented him as a Parisian force. His debut album, Une Main Lave L'Autre, was a heady concoction of linguistic genius laid out over sparse beats. And his latest mixtape, don dada mixtape vol1, is more of the same, underpinned by sizzling collaborations with other French luminaries, and bold lyrics that champion artistic integrity and authenticity over the longstanding rap clichés of luxury, glamour and indulgence.
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