A Burgeoning MC Finds Himself at the Forefront of France’s Bustling Underground Hip-Hop Scene

A French artist, CODE Le Rappeur began his musical quest writing lyrics at thirteen years old, after becoming awash in a wave of hip-hop music through the Grand Theft Auto Soundtrack, and listening to his brother’s computer’s speakers bombing mixtapes.

Although the MC found the shift from rock to hip-hip a bit obtuse at first, this project became more serious at age of eighteen. When starting a band with some friends of his, they were looking for nicknames to call themselves. At the time, CODE was getting his driver’s license and they were talking about the driver’s written exam—the road’s code. CODE, indeed.

What really got CODE was the multiplicity of the name’s meaning, either in French or any other language: it could mean a password; knowledge, as in, scriptures are coded and reading is a means of decoding; it could be something mysterious, hidden. The latter, as CODE shared with us, made him think about how he likes to dig deep into subjects, to acquire more and more knowledge. Maybe a consequence of
his being an introvert.

But didn’t we say he was into hip-hop music? As an introvert? Actually, it is tricky. Any fan of hip-hop’s golden age, and the post, can certainly relate CODE’s mysticism to that of the late MF DOOM.

As CODE told us, when he does his rapping, he assumes a character. A character that allows him to speak freely about many a thing without judgment; approaching themes he would not expect to expose himself to people on a first date. Indeed, this character is some other person apart from him. It’s more of an intimate thing for him. Only when CODE gets to gain the other person’s trust does he expose the other side of himself, sharing his opinion on different subjects.

This character, this persona, gives him the freedom to be his other self.

In his inner self, CODE feels like a sociable person, and hip-hop music is a vehicle in which he can be as
egotistical as he can be. But why, then, hip-hop music? Couldn’t he be a kind of Corey Taylor when singing for Slipknot?

What’s got CODE at first was its vibe, the rhythm, the lyrical side of it. He felt free in this genre, where he could either choose to create more serious music, some not-so-serious music, or even party music; and this switchable characteristic he had found in hip-hop music had some influence on his decision.

One of the subjects CODE approaches in his music is the theme of constant conflict around the globe. We asked him what made him rap on this subject, “A love for history, especially, modern History – and there’s a lot of conflict in modern history.” The MC then told us, “WWII had such a big impact on the construction of Europe as it is today. It interests me, knowing about these conflicts, the causes, the consequences, how it has changed society—if for the better, if for the worse.”

Why talk about these things and why not talk about something less violent?

Conflict is a constant issue, and people usually seem like they do not care about it. CODE feels guilty, in a way, for this indifference. That’s one of the reasons why he chose to approach certain topics such as this. But do not think CODE is a kind of politician, nor does he see his music as “political.” Politics were not the first subject he meant to approach in his music, but since CODE feels an urgency in it, an urgency that angers as much as it saddens him, he feels like talking about it and sharing his indignation through his persona, CODE.

Sharing his view on conflict, both on a small scale – such as civil wars – and large scale, they both come from external interest, and not only from national problems; and tells us, “I do not feel like an MC that has to save the world, in some way, but, since these political games and issues are so obvious, I see them as funny, in a way, ridiculous, one could even say preposterous.” For that same reason, his character, CODE, makes use of this caricature of the world’s problems and political games only to make it even more clear that their source is interest – economical interest. And this is only a way to see things – such as talking about things like love, there is a bright and a dark way to see it.

Even in his private life, CODE sees himself as being very pragmatic. He sees that the world is a mess because people did it that way, and CODE finds these fairy tales a way for people to take some weight off their backs, so they don’t have to carry the guilt. If people feel bad, it’s because they had this mindset from the beginning. From CODE’s point of view, “There’s always an easy way to find the answers. Interest. Greed. Humanity. Most people will say they do not need money, and they want to help the poor. Don’t just say it but do it.”

CODE does not hide behind excuses. He is human and accepts his flaws – money, cool cars, women, etc. To that end, the MC quips, “Life is a race against yourself, and people find excuses.” Through hip-hop music, CODE shows his deepest self, his most human part – his dreams about possession, “There are those who are all peace and love, but even those do not differ that much from this egotistical point of view.” Hip-hip music, then, unleashes his deepest self. He uses a famous quotation, “Give a man a mask and he’ll show you his true self.”

Sharing his creative process with us, CODE said, “I am able to write anywhere, my favorite places being public transportation, or even when hanging out with people.” It does not bother him, for he had started writing along with other artists, but he finds himself more comfortable with writing by himself. Usually, CODE writes at home after dinner time. Both working by himself and working as a group have been experiences he’s lived, and he prefers to do things by himself. In the artist’s words, “There’s more freedom when sharing my points of view, without having to wait for groupmates’ approval.”

Did this article get to you? Soon, there will be news from CODE, for, in the Spring of 2022, a new project is scheduled for release! Stay tuned to CODE’s YouTube channel, and his Soundcloud for all the latest news, and music.

Interested in learning more about CODE Le Rappeur? Hit the link below:

Be sure to check out the full archives of New Clew, by Fábio Moniz, here: https://vwmusicrocks.com/new-clew-archives/

About Post Author

Fábio Moniz

Born and raised in Portugal, with an ever-growing love for knowledge, and an ever-increasing interest in teaching, Fábio teaches Creative Writing at the Senior Academy (Sintra), and music as a freelancer, and is presently working as a tutor.
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