Though America is clearly at the top of the hip-hop food chain, France has always been a fairly close second, with a thriving scene that dates back to the mid-eightes. A huge factor in the development of French hip-hop was the TV show HIPHOPaired, which featured music videos and live performances from global rap artists (even Kurtis Blow dropped by one time). The programme even pre-dated Yo! MTV Raps, suggesting that mainstream French culture was more ready to accept hip-hop than America was at that time. Like hip-hop in the States, and most other cultures, the genre was birthed in France through political movement and was used as a tool to protest the treatment of poverty-stricken citizens in Parisian ghettos and the racial discrimination immigrants and their children faced. The scene there has rapidly developed into something incredibly diverse-sounding—political hip-hop is still at the core, but gangsta and jazz-infused rap has also risen to prominence.
Rap evolved in France in a very similar way to what happened in the US but on a slight time delay, as it was the mid-90s where legends really started to get created. Some of this was thanks to the influence of Mathieu Kassovitz's film, La Haine—which is essentially a French Do The Right Thing—and its thumping hip-hop soundtrack that included pioneering groups such as Assassin and NTM. The French hip hop scene is still booming today, especially in Paris, which has a fierce underground scene and where most of the country's prominent rappers come from. As far as the culture and music has developed over the last thirty years, with so many great rappers coming out of the country, it feels as if France can be the place where the hip-hop boundaries can be diversified and furthered even more. This is The Best Of French Hip-Hop.