French Hip-Hop: SOPRANO featuring South Asian singer Indila: HIRO

As in most first world national languages and from their former colonies and others, the French language showcases/expresses some great rap and hip-hop and what may be called ‘black’ urban music. On my blog, I have previously shown some from Japan and Korea and will continue to show my favorites from the world over.

Soprano is one of the best in present-day France. Here is a socially-conscious hip-hop song ‘Hiro’ (hero) which brings in the pride and heartache of black and non-white histories in the world and the wish to have changed history and what creates suffering today. Many of the persons and situations mentioned in this song/video are probably unknown to most Americans but we should know them as Americans. Do our research. There is more to the world than what we see in our small worlds. As such, the song mentions 9/11, Princess Diana, the making of African nations, Gandhi, Mohammed Ali, tragic airplanes that fly despots to their locations, etc. A character from the US television show ‘Heroes’ is a foundational character in the telling of this wish, this story. I love this song. In honor of knowing history and to be in the present to ACT!

Lyrics translated originally by 15 year-old French guy (SchezMusique) from Youtube.

I have modified as best I can. IF ANYONE CAN READ FRENCH and HELP with TRANSLATIONS– I will continue to modify…….

English translation followed by the French lyrics.


If I had had the power of Hiro Nakamura
I would have left reliving the birth of Lenny and Inaya
I would have been in Sanaa
Boycott the takeoff of A310 from Yemenia
I would have been there to see my grandfather one last time
Say to him I’ll take care of his daughter, so don’t worry
I would have left seeing Martin Luther King
After his speech, show him the photo of Barack Obama
I would have been in the temple of Harlem
Push Malcolm from the scene before a bullet reaches him
I would have been in the prison of Mandela
To say to him ‘hold out, your ideas will be of a president of south Africa’
Lover of Lady Diana,
I would have created a gigantic cork under the bridge of the Alma
I would have been in the Bahamas
Not for the holidays but to empty the hold of the plane of Aaliyah

I would have liked travelling through time

I would have liked travelling through time

I would have liked travelling through time

If I had had the power of Hiro Nakamura
I would have been there for the fight from Mohamed Ali to Kinshasa
Then, I would have been there to celebrate the independence of my Comoros
In the arms of my grandfather before his death
Then, a small tour in the Paris-Dakar in full savanna
To boycott Daniel Balavoine’s copter
I like the truths of those who wear a red nose
I would have been there to burst the tires of Coluche’s motorcycle
I would have been there to meet Mahomet in Medina
Then go to see the Red Sea, let myself pass to Moses
I would have been for the birth of the son to Mary
Two hours later, take the walking of the salt with Gandhi
I would have been there to sit down with Rosa Parks
Then to Woodstock to see Jimmy Hendrix live
I would have been at the birthday of Motown
To see Mickael make the moonwalk

I would have been in New York
To activate at 7 am a bomb scare in 2 towers
I would have been in Iraq
Teaching the journalists to shoot better with their shoe
I would have been in Afghanistan
Throw the cameras of the last interview of commander Massoud
I would have been in Angola
To go to tell the team of Adebayor not do the trip
I would have been in Clichy-sous-Bois
Disconnect the transpo of EDF before Zyed and Bouna comes
I would have been at Kunta Kinte or on Gorée
To give them guns before the colonists came
I would have been there to see the African infantrymen
To say to them that we treat their children like nasty immigrants
I would have been in Austria,
I would have done anything so that the parents of Adolf Hitler never met

Even if I had the power of Nakamura
What would I have been able to do for Haiti, the tsunami or Katrina?
What would I have been able to do for Alaska?
Everything that nature gave us
Nature will take back
So these are things which I would have wanted to change or wanted to live
So these are things which I would have wanted to erase or to relive
But are all impossible my friend
Thus I inspire a big breath and I blow on my 30th candle…

I would have liked travelling through time
But we can live only the present
We can live only the present

Idir – the ‘father’ of Berber Music in Modern North Africa

My new friend Lila Ben, wanted to share with you the most popular and famous singer in modern times, who has kept the songs of the Berber (Amazigh) peoples alive into the 21st century on a popular scale, especially of the Kabyle culture.

Idir was born in the village Aït Lahcène, in Algeria 1949 and is a true ambassador of his peoples’ music and culture.  He has sung with Sting (USA) and collaborated with famous French singers, and has helped in the remembering of the Berber cultures which have been consumed by the nation-states that came about through colonial rule.  Because of nation-states intensifying certain cultural dominances, they produce exile, and minority-status thinking in relation to certain peoples.  This is true everywhere in nation-states.  The Berber peoples, much like the Kurdish, Assyrian, Armenian, Basque, and other groups, now live largely in diaspora in many different regions and lands, displaced from their original lands.  However, many still remain on these lands and keep the memory alive.  The cultures, however, have become endangered and fragments of memory carry the form of original cultures still left.  As you will see in this music video, as Idir sings, the people in the audience are moved not just because the music is beautiful by itself.  It is more beautiful because as they are listening and Idir is singing and playing the guitar and the music flows, the bodies and hearts provide a resistance to disappearance….a disappearance of culture and memory, ways of life that continue to be targeted as somehow lesser or unwanted by some dominant groups.  This is intensified as displaced Berber people and others, are in new lands, living and thinking and being in ways that are at odds, perhaps, with the new cultures as well.   So this song of the grandmothers and grandfathers, is a resistance, a resilience, and evokes the way of life of the community and its warmth as well as hardship.

The song ‘A Vava Inouva‘  (‘Father Inouva’) is a famous song passed down through the ages, as grandmothers used to sing this song to their grandchildren.  It also presents the picture of the life of caution and the passing down of survival skills and the love of a large clan.  Nowadays, most people in the first world countries (who are not immigrants or born in cultures where these different kinds of family and communities existed) have forgotten and/or do not know of life beyond the nuclear family and orphanages.  The song speaks to warmth, love, care, family, survival.

A Vava Inouva (Father Inouva)

I ask you father inouva, open the door
O daughter ghriba, shake your bracelets
I fear the monster of the forest father Inouva
O daughter ghriba, I fear him too

The old one is rolled up in his “burnous” (traditional trenchcoat)
in the distance, to warm himself
His son is scared to earn bread
Looking at the days to come
The grand-dauhter-in-law sews
Without stopping putting the cloth
The children around the grandmother
learn the teachings from the old days

The snow pushes up against the door
the stew in the large cooking pot
the elders begin dreaming of springtime
the moon and the stars being the canopy
the oak tree replaces the view
the family gathers together
ready to listen to the story

The Legacy – by Lila Ben Mamar

Lila Ben Mamar is an aspiring poet.  She was born in Algeria in 1968.

As you know, the indigenous of the now so-called ‘North African’ nations, spoke many indigenous languages. Arabic Islamic invasion and governance forced Arabic language for centuries. Then during the European colonial period, Algeria and many North African nations and others, were colonized by the French government. So as my Algerian friends like to say, “We have been colonized twice. Our people have been scattered and sequestered over many different countries, divided. Our own Berber and other languages have become ‘minority’ languages, although many of us retain our original  languages.”

The poems which she has shared with me, tell of heartache, cultural loss and survival, resistance to loss, trauma and healing, love and longing.  The Algerian landscape and the traumas the peoples of Algeria have experienced, are given to us through her poems in a direct fashion as an act of non-forgetting and loss, resistance and living in exile.

Here is her bio in the French language, followed by a poem translated into English by Lila Ben and I contributed some editing:

Lila Ben mamar née en 1968 en Algérie, dans la région de Tizi Ouzou à Ain el hammam ex Michelet, une région montagneuse assez rude.
Etudes secondaires en Kabylie puis licence en anglais à l’université d’Alger de 1986 à1990.Dans les années 90’ retour en Kabylie où j’ai enseigné l’anglais pendant une dizaine d’années .En 2000, j’ai quitté l’Algérie pour m’installer en France.
Mes écrits sont principalement dictés par la difficulté de surmonter la douleur de l’exil, ils consistent également à saisir l’émotion que m’inspire un souvenir, mon vécu et les êtres qui me sont chers.

The Legacy

When news is about the dead
What about those left living?
Dead body    here.   And a bullet, a hatchet
a leg there.     A severed head here.
Dead here.
Pieces of a body
a world without peace.
Barbarians made this, deserting humans
Moving at a pace
with a fierce face
Chasing grace
Flowers uprooted
Lovers threatened      and others
a dreadful sowing

with Blood  and sobbing
for generations following

‘Monologue’ – by Soleïman Adel Guémar

My friend Adel’s poem speaks to the experience of connection, love, understanding through the inexplainable experiences of exile, heartache, and loneliness.

He is living in Swansea, Wales, where he presently makes his living with the memory/experience of escaping from the dangers of being killed in his home country Algeria, for speaking about the Algerian state policies which lock freedom away and force its citizens to align with state notions and to restrict expressions toward liberation. As mentioned earlier, the human rights record of the present Algeria is abysmal. Journalists and creative artists, and others in Algeria, have had to live in exile in order to survive. In exile, he must live, always in a distant relation to a homeland that no longer exists except in memory, a compromised homeland, of violence and hopes.

His poem is entitled ‘Monologue.’ English translation below.


You just dont know all my sufferings
nor my craziest dreams nor my eyes
when I hide in order to weep
you don't know
the noise of boots in my head
nor the birds I set free
nor my smiles when trains go by
you don't know my voice at night
when I'm telling you about all this

you just know I love you

in "State of emergency", - Arc Publications, UK 2007 -
translated to English from French by: Tom Cheesman & John Goodby

Tinariwen – a little from them, of who they are

The Tuareg people (also Tuwareg, Twareg, Amazigh, Imuhagh and Itargiyen) are a Berber nomadic pastoral people living primarily in the Saharan desert regions of North Africa.   Their self-names are: Kel Tamasheq or Kel Tamajaq- which points to their identity-names through language as opposed to race and ethnicity which is done today.

Most of the people in North African nations today, live as these heritages but of course, some have been urbanized and assimilated.  The splits between various kinds of ‘urban’ and various kinds of rural and nomadic and/or settled life cultures within these groups also inform the way states can divide and conquer to further erode the cultures in favor of state control and assimilation.  There are tribes who still resist the state today, of course.  The Tinariwen group is the most famous of today’s resistance movements done through the display and expression of the their cultural history and traditions and their political/cultural plight in the world of nation-states today.