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Since the advent of the Internet, manga consumption has only increased in France, and "One PieceOne Piece: Red" is probably one of France's most popular works in all fields. Naturally, French rappers have also been influenced by the phenomenon, and on the occasion of the release of the film "One Piece: Red", we're going to take a look back at the links between our favorite rappers and the biggest manga box-office hit of all time.
The PXP x One Piece collab:
Manga and rap, a great love story
French rap didn't wait for "One Piece" to be able to include manga references in their lyrics, or simply to be influenced by the world of manga from Japan. The musical genre, which emerged in France in the 80s, has always drawn on all the various influences to which it could be subjected: traditional French chanson, for example, but also all kinds of American music. At the time, the only manga or anime consumed by young people was "Goldorak", which wasn't a big hit but sowed the seeds for the emergence, a few years later (thanks to the incredible "Club Dorothée" TV show), of a veritable "Dragon Ball Z Generation". This was the first slap in the face for our French rappers, whose eyes were mainly on America and the black-American imagery coming out of Japan. Son Goku's power, his appetite and even Vegeta's dirty temper soon made their appearance in FR rap lyrics, even if the number of rappers with this kind of reference was rather limited. Because even if almost everyone loved Dragon Ball, manga in general wasn't necessarily very fashionable on the street. At least until the arrival of Naruto, and above all "One Piece", a work consumed en masse, thanks in particular to the Internet and the famous "scans".
"One Piece" is the manga that made cool consuming manga, whether in anime or book form. For a long time, fans of Japanese culture were seen as geeks in their own world, but the trend was radically reversed in the 2010s, thanks in part to the "greatest manga of all time" (in terms of success, and length). Manga is now as much a part of street culture as the gangster movies and westerns to which IAM and NTM referred in their early days. "One Piece" has thus gradually infiltrated the lyrics of all your favorite rappers, especially those of the new generation, but not only. A great avant-gardist, Orelsan made early reference to the cult manga in several of his lyrics, around the time of the release of his album "Le Chant des Sirènes". In the track "2010", he rapped "I watched One Piece eight times, all 460 episodes", reminding us that this album is already over ten years old... And that back then, there were "only" 460 animated episodes for fans to consume, as opposed to the 1,025 currently available... Orelsan, who has always assumed this geeky identity, has made it cool too, and citing "One Piece" as having the same effect on manga, is anything but coincidental. He's not the only one to quote the work in his texts, and we can mention in particular "Sam's", whom you may have discovered in the "Validé" series, who is also a big fan of the manga and in particular of "hakis", those magical powers of the mind that can be passed on by "One Piece" characters.
These hakis are popular with many rappers, such as MMZ, who we'll talk about later. For some artists, it's the power of the mind that's the envy of the world, but for others, it's the power of the body. Like Bolemvn, in "Biffzer" on the Seven Binks album, who could see himself with an elastic limb, for obvious reasons that we won't go into! Finally, other artists seem to have a much more complex and profound relationship with "One Piece", such as Nekfeu, who talks about his buddies being "anti-heroes like Roronoa Zoro", one of the manga's most important characters, as if to explain that in life, things aren't always as they seem. For D.Ace, the manga has completely taken hold of him, to the point of launching a series of "Mangas" freestyles (in 5 volumes) in which he makes numerous references to the great "One Piece" epic. Finally, we can't talk about references, mangas and French rap without mentioning Freeze Corleone, a cador in this field, who also dedicated a track to "Luffy", in 2016. But also a subtle reference to Nico Robin, one of the characters least cited by our rappers. Freeze says he "looks for history like Nico Robin", the archaeologist, as if to illustrate his conflicting relationship with official historical theses. As for Ashe 22, in "Sunset", he simply announces that he's "cutting the prod with Zoro's blade", so at least you're sure of the track's dark mood!
One Piece: piracy never ends
But of course, one of the aspects most often mentioned when talking about "One Piece" is the pirates. Because before being an interplanetary phenomenon, this manga is above all a story of pirates, who live adventures, a kind of Odyssey. With a crew of pirates who play the leading role, an emblematic captain (Luffy), but also values and a certain code of piracy. And in French rap, we love piracy. In fact, we love it, because pirates are one of the marginal figures who once shook states to their core, fantasized symbols of uncompromising freedom. The pirate embodies insubordination, subversion, adventure and a certain vision of existence made up of camaraderie, rum and women (even if, for the moment, we're closer to Jack Sparrow than to Luffy). So when, on top of that, Booba (perhaps read as a big fan of One Piece), starts calling his fans pirates, launching a well-known slogan on social networks (piracy never ends), it's clear that French rap and the crew of the "Mugiwara" (the pirates with the straw hat) are living a beautiful love story.
It was, and still is. Many punchlines continue to refer to "One Piece", to piracy, like Nekfeu who rapped in "Milliardaire", in 2011, with his group 1995: "J'fous le zbeul avec mes pirates comme Luffy dans One Piece". It's a nice nod to the boisterous, loud-mouthed, messy nature of pirates, and in particular of Monkey D. Luffy's crew, who are never at the end of their tether when it comes to getting into unbelievable situations and making a mess of things. Once again, we find ourselves with pirates in the spotlight, thanks to a reference to the manga. Damso, too, has made a reference to the manga in this way, even if, like the tortured writer he is, he has complicated matters with a double reference to "One Piece", one for Luffy and his long arm, and one for piracy. In the track "M. Noob Saibot", on his 2017 album "Ipséité", he rapped, "I've got a long arm but not for selfie, Piracy, Mugiwara Luffy". He's obviously referring to Luffy's elastic arm, obtained by eating a very specific demon fruit. An arm he won't extend to take a selfie, because he hates it, if we're to believe his words. But also a big up to piracy, back when Damso was still signed to 92i, the label of French rap's piracy boss, Booba. We've mainly included the punchlines we found interesting and well-crafted, but obviously the list isn't exhaustive and was simply intended to show you the way in which "One Piece" has completely fused with French rap and urban culture. And when you consider that we've got at least 3 years to go before the end of the manga is published, you can be sure that this great story will go on for a long time to come!
We'd like to take this opportunity to remind you that the One Piece x Project X Paris collection is still available, since we've obviously restocked after the dazzling success of the first sales. This capsule is a veritable bockbuster validated by the entire urban youth scene, and Ninho sent us a strong message by validating the One Piece x PXP collab, as he was spotted on numerous occasions wearing sapes from the capsule. While at Vistavue, Europe's leading retailer of Cartier eyewear, Ninho took the opportunity to don the ivory-colored One Piece Luffy hoodie, one of the best-selling pieces in the collection. Proof that FR rappers are influenced by One Piece, right down to the clothes they wear!