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Rap as a Social and Political Revealer: Diam's and Changes in French Value Systems

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In 2006, a young female rapper named Diam's released an album that became the best-selling CD in France: her CD and its reception is treated as a social phenomenon and examined against the backdrop of political arguments which developed in France in 2006-2007. Musical analysis shows that the sonic backgrounds of Diam's rap illustrated the importance of combinations and hard work in the symbolical production of a new order. Her texts manifested new combinations of social values which brought into the public debate changes in value systems that were just becoming developed enough to be taken up by political organisations and leaders. This is why the main themes in Diam's CD converged with topics engaged by the two main candidates in the French 2007 presidential election. This paper, combining the resources of musicology, literary analysis and political sociology analyses how Diam's put in aesthetic and emotional forms combinations of values that had been brewing underground for the past 30 years. It invites a reconsideration of the interpretation of rap as an expression of rebellion, or even as an element of counter-culture, and apprehends it as a 'social revealer' that brings new values and representations into public debate and stimulates discussion around them. Diam's album was an 'unidentified political object' that shed original light on the way politics and politician are perceived by ordinary citizens, or specific groups among them, such as the youth.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 November 2010

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