The Gulf Today - Time Out - - CON­TENTS - SAYS DAVID ESNAULT

Boy­cotted by ra­dio shows for be­ing too provoca­tive but pil­ing up hits on Ivory Coast’s so­cial me­dia for nail­ing facts of life, the young rap­per’s lat­est song has a bite.

Love, money, so­cial in­jus­tice — Bop de Narr tack­les head-on any as­pect of so­ci­ety that strikes him as in need of com­ment, but he does so with a sub­ver­sive turn of mind and rare hu­mour.

His very stage name is provoca­tive for those who re­mem­ber late French mer­ce­nary boss Bob De­nard, the man­ager of sev­eral coups in post-colo­nial Africa who died in 2007.

Feign­ing ig­no­rance, the 24-year-old rap­per says he was known as “Bop” in his teens, while “Narr” is just an ab­bre­vi­a­tion of the word “nar­ra­tion”, adopted in homage to po­etry slam gigs and per­for­mances.

In his hit “C’est Payant” (At A Price), he names a num­ber of “ac­tresses” — mod­els or for­mer beauty pageant win­ners and oth­ers — who are tar­gets of al­le­ga­tions that their ca­reers are boosted by their deal­ings with pow­er­ful men.

“We all know that it comes at a price, I’m sim­ply telling the truth / As for he who wants to in­sult me, I’m go­ing to tell him, ‘You’re as stupid as a night­club that doesn’t open on Satur­day’.”

In “Vi­lain” (Ugly), De Narr last year set his sights on wealthy men, par­tic­u­larly fa­mous foot­ball stars.

“Money, car, house, can a woman tell you you’re ugly? / She’s go­ing to be se­ri­ous with you even if your looks are a joke.”

Mock­ing the rich helps to ex­press the frus­tra­tion of young Ivo­rians who are on the Ivo­rian scene,” de­clares Ozone, pre­sen­ter of a hip hop show on tele­vi­sion.

The Ivo­rian club scene has lately been dom­i­nated by the per­cus­sive Coupe-De­cale dance mu­sic, ini­ti­ated a decade ago by Ivo­rian DJs ac­tive in Paris and pop­u­lar in their home­land.

Apart from turntable wiz­ardry, CoupeDe­cale — which es­sen­tially means “cut AND RUN” IN NOUCHI — ADOPTED INlUENCES from zou­glou, a style that emerged as a youth phe­nom­e­non in the 1980s and 1990s, blend­ing Caribbean forms from ca­lypso to reg­gae with African styles.

In Ivory Coast, hip hop and rap started out as joy­ous, fes­tive mu­sic. How­ever, the forms evolved, be­com­ing tougher over a dozen years for a young gen­er­a­tion caught up in a pro­longed po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary cri­sis that split the coun­try in two un­til Lau­rent Gbagbo, a pres­i­dent who re­fused to ac­cept de­feat at the polls, was ar­rested in April 2011.

“Mock­ery is an es­cape route that helps ONE BEAR A Di­fi­cult LIFE,” SAID ICKX FONTAINE, with re­gard to the sardonic edge Ivo­rian mu­si­cians bring to so­cial com­men­tary.

“Punch­lines are my weapons,” says De Narr, who makes a liv­ing from con­certs and night club gigs. “My au­di­ence sees me as coura­geous.”

Af­ter a dis­ap­point­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with a record la­bel, he is pro­duc­ing his own work, but he hopes to sign with an in­ter­na­tional ma­jor and “make progress un­der other skies where there is a real mu­sic in­dus­try”.

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