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MUSIC

French rapper to face trial over ‘Hang White People’ video

A little-known French rapper who caused a furore in France this week with a music video called "Hang White People" has been ordered to face trial on charges of inciting violence, legal sources said on Friday.

Nick Conrad, whose song and career had gone largely unnoticed until the video came to the public's attention this week, was interviewed by police on Friday and ordered to stand trial on January 9th.
 
The charge against him, of inciting deadly violence, carries a maximum five-year prison sentence and a fine of €45,000 (39,000 dollars).
 
The track, called PLB for “Pendez les Blancs” (Hang White People), was posted on YouTube on September 17 and garnered only a few thousands views before it was shared last weekend by a controversial comedian with a large 
online following.
 
 
After being highlighted by far-right groups in France, who regularly rail against alleged racism against white people, both the interior minister, government spokesman and politicians of all stripes condemned the video.
 
Conrad, who had an average 40 monthly listeners on Spotify and 186 subscribers to his YouTube channel before the controversy, has become the subject of widespread media coverage and public attention as a result.
 
“There will be a trial during which I hope to be received like I was today in terms of being listened to,” Conrad said after his interview with police.  “I think that a text deserves to be studied in depth, not superficially.” 
 
In scenes from the PLB video, which has since been blocked by YouTube, the rapper can be seen torturing and then hanging a white victim with a noose, in between waving a gun around and smoking a cigar.
 
The lyrics evoke the killing of adults and children with the rapper singing: “I walk into creches, I kill white babies, catch them quick and hang their parents.”
 
Conrad, who is from Paris and is of Cameroonian origin, explained to Le Parisien newspaper that he wanted to “inverse the roles of the white man and the black man” and that the “shock was intended.” 
 
Many scenes make obvious reference to the film American History X about the abuse of blacks by American neo-Nazis.
 
One collateral victim of the furore is a BBC news presenter with the same name as the French rapper who presents a radio show in the sleepy eastern county of Norfolk.
 
The British Nick Conrad, who wrote online that he was the “fatter and more talented one” of the two, has asked to be left alone after receiving death threats over social media.

MUSIC

8 of French duo Daft Punk’s most memorable moments

One of the era's defining dancefloor acts hung up their helmets on Monday, as French electronic music stars Daft Punk announced their retirement in a typically enigmatic fashion with a video showing one of them exploding in a desert.

8 of French duo Daft Punk's most memorable moments
Photo: AFP

From Da Funk in 1995 to Get Lucky in 2013, Daft Punk became the torch-bearers for French house music across the globe, winning six Grammy awards and pioneering the monumental sound-and-light shows that came to characterise the electronic dance movement (EDM) of recent years.

They did so while almost never revealing their faces — the ubiquitous helmets became another much-copied trope of EDM stars, but also afforded Thomas Bangalter, 46, and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, 47, a freedom from the fame that quickly encircled them.

“We have daily lives that are a lot more normal than the lives of artists who have the same level of fame as us, but who might be attached to being physically recognised,” Bangalter said in a rare authorised documentary by the BBC in 2015.

Here are some of the highlights of their career – although for our money nothing will beat the French army band’s performance of a Daft Punk medley at the Bastille Day celebrations in 2017, in front of president Emmanuel Macron and a plainly bemused Donald Trump.

1. “Daft punky thrash”

Bangalter and Homem-Christo met at school in Paris before an inauspicious start in music with the rock band Darlin’, which also featured a future member of the French indie band Phoenix.

One review in the British music press dismissed the band as “daft punky thrash” — which struck a chord with them.

Reemerging as an electronic outfit, they met with instant success.

This interview from 1995 is one of the few images of their faces:

2. Their signature look in “Around the World”

Early singles “Da Funk” and “Around the World” became club fixtures, and led to massive sales for their debut album “Homework” in 1997.

It was in the video for “Around the World” that they first donned the helmets that would become their signature look. It mirrored the tight control they exercised over every part of their career, which included ownership of their master recordings.

3. “One More Time”

They followed up with the even more successful “Discovery” in 2001, which spawned the hits “One More Time” and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”.

There were some distinctively left-field choices in the years that followed, including producing the 2003 film “Interstella 5555” by Japanese anime master Leiji Matsumoto, which featured music from “Discovery”.

4. Human After All

While their next album in 2005, a more sombre “Human After All”, received mixed reviews, these were quickly forgotten amid the euphoria of their live shows over the next two years.

This included a headline appearance at US festival Coachella in 2006, performed inside a giant LED pyramid. EDM fans still speak about it with an almost religious reverence.

5. Tron soundtrack

In 2010, they released a soundtrack to the Disney reboot of Tron, which picked up a Grammy nomination.

6. “Random Access Memories”

But no one predicted the massive success of their last album, 2013’s “Random Access Memories”, for which they gave up their usual makeshift home rig for a full commercial studio– and used entirely live instruments.

The resulting work dominated album-of-the-year lists and helped lift their total worldwide sales to 12 million. It won four Grammies the following year including record of the year for “Get Lucky”, the millions-selling lead single featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers.

Their appearance at the Grammy Awards show was their last public appearance for three years.

7. “I Feel It Coming”

They showed up one more time for the Grammy ceremony in 2017, alongside The Weeknd, after collaborating on the Canadian artist’s most recent album.

Despite the Twittersphere erupting in excitement last month amid rumours they would rejoin The Weeknd for the Super Bowl half-time show, that did not in the end materialise. 

8. “Epilogue”

The video titled “Epilogue” announcing their split used footage from their cult 2006 film “Electroma” in which one of the robots sets the auto-destruct of the other.

A cutaway then reads “1993-2021” with two robot hands making a circle around a sunset.

Their publicist, Kathryn Frazier, confirmed the news to AFP by email, without giving a reason for the split.

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