As one of France’s pre-eminent MCs, Booba blends the storytelling roots of the genre’s American origins with a uniquely Francophile sensibility, humor, and critical eye. His flow patterns, melodies, and vocal delivery recall his American counterparts, while his social commentary is levied on the racism and violence that plague black people in his own homeland. Born Élie Yaffa in 1976, he was raised an ocean apart from the birthplace of rap, but immersed himself in the classics: Wu-Tang, 2Pac, Mobb Deep, and Notorious B.I.G. As with those legends, Yaffa’s rhymes were born from the perspective of an outsider—in his case, a kid raised on the outskirts of Paris by a French mother and Senegalese father, obsessed with a style of music that had no cultural footing in the country. After releasing an album with his friend Ali under the name Lunatic in 1994, Booba began his solo career and accumulated enormous success, with each of his first 10 albums landing in the national top 10, turning rap music into a chart-topping force throughout France. His beats are raw and melodic, his style more aggressive than some of his national brethren like MC Solaar and Kaaris—but with them and the steady scene throughout France, Booba is helping forge a POV of rap that transcends its American ideology. Booba is synonymous with the rise of French rap music, but he has continued to evolve as the genre grows both at home and abroad.
BORNSeptember 9, 1976