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Since the very start (and especially since Afrika Bambaataa’s first concerts in the Bronx), rap has involved a search for roots. Returning to your identity and origins is one of the hip-hop movement’s basic principles.
Few realise this, but some of France’s most famous rappers are of Cape Verdean descent, among them Stomy Bugsy and Jacky Brown. There’s no way of telling from their names or careers, but the discerning ear will have picked out the clues from their very first records: a reference to Cesaria Evora here, a few words of Kriolu there (the Portuguese Creole that has become the official language of Cape Verde).
The two made their name in legendary rap and ragga groups (Stomy in Ministère Amer, Jacky in the Nèg Marrons). They were and still are key exponents of a very “French rap”, which, in the 90s, overcame prejudice, took the airwaves by storm and won recognition everywhere. Yet, part of them was missing…
It may be the example of Izé, the first to build bridges between French rap and music from the African homeland. It may be their trips to Cape Verde - at first irregular, then increasingly frequent. It may be the chasm between France and Africa that seems to grow deeper every day. Or, in the end, it may simply be a form of maturity… but the urge to put together a rap group based on Cape Verdean beats has grown stronger and stronger.
La MC Malcriado has been around since 1998. It is a group of four old friends, each of them with a double French and Cape Verdean culture: Izé, who already has two albums to his name (“Double nationalité” and “Mobilizé“) and who was the first to specifically introduce Cape Verdean sounds into his instrumentals / JP, who hung out with Jacky and Benj (the future Nèg’ Marrons) at the start of 90s, before setting to work on his group II Doigts and a documentary comparing boxing and rap / Jacky Brown, who accumulated gold records with the Nèg’ Marrons, then brought his lexical talents to bear on an alarming number of different projects / Stomy Bugsy, actor and rapper, veteran of Ministère Amer, who also has a stack of gold records in a corner of his apartment.
The group first performed on stage in Cape Verde at the Baias Das Gatas festival, before appearing in the “Fête à Cesaria” (Cesaria’s Celebration) at the Paris Zénith in April 2001. They subsequently featured on compilations - “Dis l’heure de zouk” - and on albums by Izé and Stomy Bugsy, but have also been working in secret on their own album for several years, with the help of a producer who is of Cape Verdean extraction too: Gérard Noël-Pierre. The challenge has mirrored the musical wealth of Cape Verde: funana, coladera, batuque, zouk… The archipelago boasts so many unstoppable beats, so many amazing musicians to be introduced to the French public, that trying to resume it all on just one record seemed like an impossible task. Yet… Amazingly danceable, the album also alludes to everyday life in Cape Verde (“Mas amor”, the most heavily played track on radio), the bitterness of its migrants (“Réfugié” - Refugee) and the obscure, but glorious history of this “little country” (“Amilcar Cabral”). However, it was mainly by bringing in some of the archipelago’s most popular singers (Mayra Andrade, Filipe Monteiro, Suzana, Zéca di Nha Reinalda, etc.) that the group managed to achieve a unique fusion, an incomparable style that now needs a name. Malcriado rap? Kriolu rap? Cape rap? It’s up to you.