You write because of him. He had just ignited the public during his concert at the party of Humanity and it is with a smile that he welcomes you to discuss his vision of art, of youth, of music. You return home tonight in the world of Youssoupha, a sincere artist who managed to sharpen and make room for a dedicated work force. I had heard talk by other artist collegues who had made representations there and told me a lot of good about it. In the end, it is the most important because a staged performance was first expected of me.
- WHAT IS YOUR FELT EMOTIONS TOWARDS THE PARTY OF HUMANITY?
I had never been to the Party of Humanity and honestly, there is between what is said and what is a ditch. I was slightly cautious of the image that the Party of Humanity gave away. When I have the possibility, I prefer to experiment things by myself instead of listening to what other people say. I was pleasurably surprised. It is a very shaded festival, a debated space. People come here in families, they talk, share, laugh, they laugh a lot. I was imagining something much more activist but that was not the case. It is important to be careful of the caricatures. In addition, it is an event whose scope is minimized. Once I arrived, I discovered a full city in which a large amount of things were going on. It is a massive party and an extremely cultural event around the parisienne life.
You write because of him. He had just ignited the public during his concert at the party of Humanity and it is with a smile that he welcomes you to discuss his vision of art, of youth, of music. You return home tonight in the world of Youssoupha, a sincere artist who managed to sharpen and make room for a dedicated work force.
I had heard talk by other artist collegues who had made representations there and told me a lot of good about it. In the end, it is the most important because a staged performance was first expected of me.
-YOUR TEXTS ARE ALWAYS EXTREMELY CONSTRUCTED, LIKE POEMS, WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION WITH POETRY?
What brought me to rap, was first the wish to write. I was 12-13 years old once I first started listening to rap and it was to my eyes the perfect support for my writings. I didn’t really know what I was writing: theatre pieces, songs etc… And I did not want to learn to sing, I just wanted to say what was in my heart, write, write and write.
I really like the language and the exercise of it. I love playing with words (“cups half empty, cups half full”). I always told myself that if one day I stopped rapping, I would continue to write. It is perhaps because of this approach that instinctively all my texts are very literary. Music obviously counts but the words are my primary element. I look to search and transmit something, I don’t look to write the truth, but to evoke emotions, my emotions on what surrounds me. Often I have been asked if I have regretted what I’ve written: of course! Since my texts are before anything else moods and emotions. I do not regret it to the first sense what I have written but when I re listen to something that I may have written 21 years ago I tell myself “that was a bit caricatured, I don’t agree with that or that, I’m exaggerating a bit” But finally, I’ve improved and in the moment, it was true, real. It was what I was feeling. If at the age of 21 I had taken the stance of a 40 year old it would not have been true, we improve and we change. Of general manner, I don’t like people who have certainties, I like people who have doubts. I hate certainties. The more I grow, the more I cultivate and discover and the less doubts I have. In the beginning, we all have some blocked ideas and then we change, we move forward, we change. There are things that I could do and could say that I could never imagine wanting to do today, I would have told myself “never would I have seen something that way, never would I have had that approach”. I told myself that if I had changed, the people around me would also have changed, we all change and the texts do too.
-HOW DO YOU POSITION YOURSELF IN CONNECTION WITH THE NEW GENERATION?
Two years ago, I slightly saw myself as a form of respite. And then, one day I met a young rapper, Georgio who told me that he was a fan of mine that he went to my converts that I had given him the wish to rap. At that moment, I began to gain consciouscness of what I represented, I don’t like to say that I give inspiration but I understood that I brought strength to people who listened to me. I am extremely honoured to be it, it is the thing that I am the most proud of because I never thought I’d make more than two albums. I knew unsuccessfulness more then successfulness. It is a new responsibility, a new status that I accept with great pride.
For this reason, once my phone rang for interviews and that I was suggested to invite people, I call younger people instead of artists from my generation. I would have liked to be given this chance especially as I was not expecting this much from music. I have the impression that I am extremely lucky. Sometimes you lose hope but I held on, I worked without stopping, ignoring the doubts. You need to hold on to make your goal ambitious and to achieve it.
-WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS NEW GENERATION OF ARTISTS?
Whether it consists of music or other areas, i see younger people becoming more and more nuanced. For example, we can see a young Arabic girl wearing her sail, listening to Shakapon and skate, I can see a militant UMP of an affluent neighborhood loving rap. The clichés are not worth that and I can see that even if we try to place ourselves in sections, the younger people do not allow themselves to be taken, we are no longer in opposing sections. I, for example, I come from an area of Cergy and I had the impression that the whole world was against me, against us and I hated it. And then, I grew up, I went to University where I met people that came from everywhere around the world. Meeting people who were different makes you feel less like an idiot. The world is full of big people, small people, black people, white people etc. Whether you are at the Courneuve or the fifth arrondissment, the ghetto, it is in your head, you enclose yourself.
- HOW WOULD YOU EXPLAIN THE POWER OF RAP AND HOW WOULD YOU SHOW THAT IT IS ITSELF AN ART?
Rap is an art because there is a rare creative spontaneity. It is music that has to be lived, with an emotion that gives the style. It is art because it is our way of showing a certain reality that certain people cannot or do not wish to see. Of course, there are always cracks, exceptions but it is an art that targets the authenticity. Moreover if the album of NTM is called Authentik it is not for no reason. Rap is starting to reconstruct pop culture. The rap has writing geniuses in which their variety and their quality of writing is underestimated. Without pretention, the other musical genres have a lot to learn from rap. But I am optimistic, mentalities change, despite this the advance is launched.
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