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This paper concentrates on the media representation of the young rapper Abd Al Malik, whose recent albums Gibraltar (2006) and Dante (2008) have been largely embraced by the Parisian elite. Along with the cultural legitimation that affords Malik’s articulate rap discourse access to a mainstream audience, questions regarding cooptation, authenticity and identity politics reveal strong divides in the French public sphere, as well as the general sense of a preordained space assigned to rap artists in the media. Malik’s artistic vision, successfully blending rap and the most aristocratic of chanson, while asserting a strong multicultural identity, comes across as gently subversive and echoes France’s struggle to reconcile its attachment to tradition and its need to adapt to a changing society.

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French Cultural Studies


This is an author-produced, peer-reviewed version of this article. The final, definitive version of this document can be found online at French Cultural Studies, published by SAGE. Copyright restrictions may apply.

doi: 10.1177/0957155810396063