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A Transnational Generation: Franco-Maghribi Youth Culture and Musical Politics in the Late Twentieth Century

  • Paul A. Silverstein
Part of the The Palgrave Macmillan Transnational History Series book series (PMSTH)

Abstract

The cultural predicament of late-twentieth century France was perhaps best illustrated in Matthieu Kassovitz’s controversial 1995 film La Haine (Hate, 1995), a neorealist fiction that follows a day in the life of a trio of multiracial youth from a housing project on the urban periphery (la banlieue) of Paris in the aftermath of an anti-police demonstration. In one particularly poignant scene, a resident deejay — the iconic Cut Killer playing himself — performs a live mash-up of the American rapper KRS-One’s ‘Sound of Da Police’ (1993), local hip hop sensation Suprême NTM’s ‘Police’ (1993), and Edith Piaf’s ‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien’ (1960).1 The juxtaposition of seemingly incompatible musical genres (chanson and gangsta rap) in Cut Killer’s composition underlines the film’s portrayal of a hybrid, urban, postcolonial France marked by both violent clashes and unexpected solidarities — everyday and strategic transnational encounters across the divides of race, class, space, religion, gender, and generation. Piaf, NTM, and Boogie Down Productions trace out a soundtrack of parallel struggles for economic equality and social justice occurring across several decades on opposite sides of the Atlantic, and indeed the Mediterranean — a connection reinforced by the film’s opening credits montage which overlays Bob Marley and the Wailers’ iconic 1973 anthem ‘Burnin’ and Lootin” over archival footage from 1980s and 1990s street battles between multiracial youth and the French police.

Keywords

Housing Project Moral Panic Popular Music Musical Genre Youth Culture 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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© Paul A. Silverstein 2015

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