by J.J. Love
Here are 25 cuts, recorded live on two CDs, that present the case for hip hops overseas viability. Sadly, the jury has come back hung; and sadly there arent enough standout tracks on this record to make you part with 20 bones.
On the flipside, when Solaar doesnt come across like "Le Will Smith" ("Galaktika" really sounds and feels like how French kids "get jiggy wit it") hes waxing poetic about paradise, commercial society and even global destiny. "Quand le Soleil Devient Froid" is hip microanalysis about what happens "When the Sun Gets Cold" and, as Solaar says in the liner notes, "the life system of the world stops functioning." The arrangement on this song is butter: a slow, heavy bass drop, a sweet, clever piano hook and the above mentioned, pseudo-profound Y2Kism as a chorus.
Solaar may or may not be French rap at its finest, but his third offering is a testament to raps newly acquired status as super-product. Either way, Le Tour de la Question is preferable to being subjugated to that No Limit, Bad Boy and Cash Money bullshit. But with the same now-generic "Jazzmatazz" (Gurus influential hip-hop jazz fusion side project) musical style and tired token scratches, Solaars lyricism is often not enough to propel this album past artistic mediocrity.
However, this record is yet further evidence that urbanites across the globe dont want to be left behind. The French want that new, postmodern urban expression, too. Can you blame em? Besides, you know how it is: De La Soul said it "everybody wants to be a DJ, everybody wants to be an MC." Bien sur.