Charles Aznavour, lasting source of inspiration for rappers – rts.ch

Charles Aznavour, lasting source of inspiration for rappers – rts.ch
Charles Aznavour, lasting source of inspiration for rappers – rts.ch

On the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Charles Aznavour, immersed in the world of hip-hop which likes to sample the singer’s highly orchestrated repertoire: from the American Dr Dre to the Puerto Rican Bad Bunny via the Frenchman Passi. A story to which Aznavour contributed by declaring his love for the rappers.

Charles Aznavour was born a hundred years ago, on May 22, 1924. In addition to his long career that began in the mid-1950s and ended on October 1, 2018 at the age of 94, he is also an artist whose songs have been covered around the world and in all languages.

His music or that of his composers has also been sampled by numerous American and French-speaking hip-hop producers: from Dr Dre to Passi via Sniper or Psy 4 de la rime. Or more recently at the heart of the reggaeton of the Puerto Rican Bad Bunny who in “Monaco” cheerfully covered a part of “Hier encore”.

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Dr Dre has a crush on Aznavour

This is the case with Aznavour’s “Because you believe” (1966) and Dr Dre’s “What’s the Difference” (1999) appearing on the album “2001”, one of the essentials of the gangsta rap American. Musically, the instrumental part of the title is a slowed down version of the introduction to Aznavour’s song. Later, in 1997, the rapper and producer will also integrate a sample of the Aznavourian title “A ma fille” for his song entitled “Firm Fiasco” featuring Nas, AZ, Nature and Foxy Brown.

If Aznavour has inspired hip-hop so much, it is above all thanks to his conductors: “Charles Aznavour surrounded himself with the best composers and arrangers. And many of the introductions to pieces from his repertoire are thus typically hip-hop. hop in their rhythms or there is only one drum to add”, estimates in the Vertigo show on May 22 the French producer and DJ Romain Dalmasso, alias Lord Funk. In New York, in his record store during the 1990s, Romain Dalmasso became a smuggler and introduced many American hip-hop artists to forgotten or otherwise forgotten gems of the French variety.

Charles Aznavour in duet with Kerry James

In France, many rap artists have also drawn from Charles Aznavour’s prolific repertoire, comprising more than 1,400 songs. In 1998, the French rap collective Ideal J covered the instrumental of “Deux pigeons” on the title “Évitez”. Over the course of “Emeutes” by Passi and “The pleasure of effort” by Psy 4 de la rime, it is an extract from the opening of “Désormais” (1969) that can be heard. A guitar part from “La Mamma” (1963) is found in a title from Sniper.

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If Aznavour believed that rappers were “the worthy heirs of poets” and had ventured to say so in a duet with Kery James (“Dans l’ombre du show business”, 2008), they will have paid him back well his admiration by delving into and borrowing from his musical heritage. Until the tribute in the song “Formidable” by Stromae.

Comments collected by Pierre Philippe Cadert

Web adaptation: Olivier Horner

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