By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
Tumult is nothing new to the French, but their recent political events intrigue partly because of the battle-of-the-sexes element involved. Just take France's recent presidential election, which resulted in the rejection of popular candidate Ségolène Royal in her bid to become France's first female president.
Enter Diam's. This female rapper of French and Greek Cypriot background has a few choice words for the new conservative president, Nicolas Sarkozy. Among them is demagogue, which she repeats several times on her latest release, Dans Ma Bulle(In My Bubble). Still, most of her lyrics describe an identity crisis in her country that's happening on a more personal level. Her album takes on those who would claim France for Caucasian male rule, but does so by examining individuals and individual situations rather than through generalizations.
As for the music, her superbly crafted songs always give the feeling that a sharp twist is just around the corner. Sometimes a tune stops abruptly for a spoken verse, uttered by three women in unison. Other times a whole composition downshifts into a moody, smooth instrumental break.
Her videos seduce as well. If you long for a crafty mix of film noir, Desperate Housewives-style neo-trash, and lesbian innuendo, look no further than the video for "Confessions Nocturnes."
Visually appealing melodrama aside, rap is an important genre for France in 2007: It has a tradition of social commentary, and accommodates the puissance of lyricists like Diam's. She summed it up best in an interview with French e-zine Izdi.com before the presidential election.
"I don't know if I will still rap [ten years from now]," she declared, "because one does not rap without rage. But if Nicolas Sarkozy passes [the test of the elections], there will be five more years of beautiful rap." Now it's official -- we can anticipate at least another half-decade of Diam's pertinent, percussive rhymes. -- Andrés Solar