France - - Music -

What’s the story?

The son of a Greek fa­ther and a Scot­tish mother, the 27-year-old rap­per was born Ken Sa­ma­ras and raised in the sub­urbs of Nice be­fore the fam­ily moved to Paris when he was 11. His rap ca­reer started in 2007 and he per­formed in a num­ber of groups, in­clud­ing S-crew, 5 Ma­jeur, L’en­tourage and, above all, 1995, who won the award for Best Ur­ban Al­bum at the Vic­toires de la Musique in 2014.

Nekfeu’s first al­bum, Feu ( Fire, pic­tured right) was re­leased in June 2015 and quickly be­came a ma­jor suc­cess. The track On Verra ( We’ll See) at­tracted 64 mil­lion views on Youtube, es­tab­lish­ing Nekfeu as a ma­jor artist in so­cial me­dia. Af­ter mak­ing a sur­prise an­nounce­ment about the re­lease of his sec­ond al­bum, Cy­borg, live on stage at the end of 2016, he achieved 300,000 sales in record time.

Nekfeu has been in­volved in con­tro­ver­sies, es­pe­cially in 2013

when he in­sulted satir­i­cal mag­a­zine Char­lie Hebdo in a lyric. Af­ter the mur­der of some of the mag­a­zine’s staff by ter­ror­ists in Jan­uary 2015, Nekfeu ex­pressed his re­gret over the song. He has re­cently be­come more po­lit­i­cally ac­tive, sup­port­ing a num­ber of causes de­signed to help France’s dis­ad­van­taged.

Why do we like him?

Nekfeu’s mu­sic is of­ten gen­tle, quiet even. But his rapid-fire rap of­fers an ir­re­sistible coun­ter­point, giv­ing it a harder, more ur­gent edge. The singer’s style con­stantly leans on French cul­ture, roots and ex­pe­ri­ences, mean­ing that he cre­ates some­thing dis­tinct, rather than sim­ply ap­ing Amer­i­can artists. Al­though some of his videos do fall into cliché, Nekfeu’s ad­mis­sion that he is an avid reader means his lyrics are a cut above the norm.

What does he say?

“I make rap mu­sic nat­u­rally and the al­bums cover all kinds of themes. I talk about pol­i­tics, I get rid of my anger, and there’s a lit­tle bit of an ego trip there, too. But the rap I make is a true re­flec­tion of my life.”

Three songs to check out… Mau­vaise Graine

Nekfeu re­counts his trou­bled youth against a back­ground of rip­pling pi­anos and in­fec­tious beats.


Nekfeu duets with English singer­song­writer Ed Sheeran on a throw­back tune that sounds like a joy­ous old disco dance-floor filler.


A woozy num­ber fea­tur­ing fel­low rap­pers Sneazzy and S.pri Noir that man­ages to men­tion Don­ald Trump, Is­rael’s leader Binyamin Ne­tanyahu and for­mer French pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Sarkozy along the way.

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