Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Bisso Na Bisso – Show Ce Soir

Congolese kids ripping it up in France…


Tal Rosenberg: A few years ago I visited my friends in Brussels. We spent most of the time blazing spliffs in the back of a van while they mockingly rapped to songs like this one, which were playing constantly. Watching them pantomime and caricature and shift voices to boilerplate French rap songs was hilarious. But in this case I’ll invoke the perpetually misguided and conceited Courtney Taylor-Taylor: “If it’s fun, then it’s good; if it’s bad, then it’s funny.”

Matt Cibula: Sexy, smooth, spunky, sounds smart. I cannot imagine a better song existing in 2009.

Chuck Eddy: I’ve long been favorably disposed toward product of the Franco-Afro dance-rap diaspora, though I’m missing several languages that might assist my specifics. So I’ll just say the backing rhythm and female vocals here inititally struck me as too subtle, as often happens with African pop. But after a few listens, the strong melody and rap switchoffs and whoops and chants and hand-claps helped the rest make perfect sense.

Sophie Green: It seems as though any attack from the vocals is overwhelmed by the high pitched sample and tinny instrumentation. The lyrics and vocal inflections lose their prominence and role as an instrument, and as a result, the song feels quite forgettable. My only point of comparison for French-language rap is TTC, whose more visceral and demanding vocal styles make Bisso Na Bisso feel particularly flat and one-dimensional.

Anthony Miccio: The shrill synth squiggle makes me flinch every time, but once I acclimated to the drum stutters in the chorus, this gained a summery, atypical bounce — like if Manu Chao commissioned a group to compete with the Black Eyed Peas. Too bad a French cookie monster had to belch onto the track two-thirds of the way in.

Martin Skidmore: Sunny Congolese rap, with the rapping in a distinctly French style — without the hints of lovely central African guitar pop, kept rather in the background behind the basic hip hop beats, you probably wouldn’t guess where it came from. I like the variety of voices, including one almost Malathiniesque gruff one and a sweet and bright female singer. It’s hard to assess rap without the lyrics, but I enjoyed every part of this.

Michaelangelo Matos: I like the whining G-funk keyboard, especially since the beat and rhyming are faster than G-funk ever allowed itself to be, and I’m intrigued by it as an example of modern-day Congolese music, something I don’t know nearly enough about (especially as a fan of ’60s-’80s Congopop).

Alex Ostroff: There’s a tension here between the cheerful chorus and the harder verses, which is probably for the best. The spare martial beat on the verses explodes into jazzy syncopated guitar arpeggios on a dime and fades right back effortlessly. The first version I heard lacks this subtlety on the chorus, and suffers for it. However, it is the only track I know of to quote both Obama (Yes We Can) and KRS-One (Sound of Da Police), which piques my interest in their message. Politics aside, the chorus alone makes this block-party-worthy, and the entrancing shifting guitar textures put it over the top.

14 Responses to “Bisso Na Bisso – Show Ce Soir”

  1. Honestly feel like I was listening to a completely different song than the rest of you. I couldn’t hear the Congolese elements AT ALL.

  2. i.e. should remember to watch the video next time, though it doesn’t really change my opinion of the song. The “Bup, Bup, that’s the sound of the police” drop in rap songs needs to go, regardless of what language it’s in.

  3. There is entirely local guitar playing on this, the sort of thing that all the Z African nations (Zaire, Zimbabwe, Zambia) were so great at. The guitar on here is subdued, but I would have confidently guessed that it was from a Congo. Could almost be mid-80s Diblo, someone like that.

    My apologies for misspelling the great Mahlathini!

  4. Your blurb was essentially correct, though, Martin: The sunny guitar-pop takes a back seat to conventional beats. This might be a change of pace from other world music-influenced rap music, which I guess places more of an emphasis on the world music, but then it just sounds like below-average filler.

  5. Did you not get to the post-chorus breakdown, Tal? Because that’s where it all made sense for me, with those chiming guitars coming through. Then again, I’ve never been to Brussels, and I quite like TTC (apart from misogynism and bitchiness about other rappers blah blah blah), so I guess we’re just coming at things from two different ways.

  6. I think I just conflated it with the French, unfortunately. But as I said earlier, that doesn’t change my opinion of the song that much, because I don’t think the song strongly distinguished the two parts, even after listening to it a couple times more.

  7. Olivia Ruiz 7+ !
    Bisso Na Bisso 6+!
    And Lisztomania gets 5.84?
    As far as French music is concerned, this jukebox is one big joke let me tell you.
    Just that Ian Mathers guy’s got some sense left in him.
    Take the French seriously or leave them well alone.

  8. You missed this.

  9. Well, yes, but that’s hardly French. I didn’t pick Lisztomania because it comes from Versailles but because I couldn’t imagine someone in their right mind thinking it less deserving than that ludicrous Bisso thing I get every bloody day on the radio – which I’m sure you don’t. And Ruiz!? She’s not OK to like where I come from. But in a good way.
    I guess your next step will be handing Grégoire a 8+.
    And thanks for making fun of me.

  10. I wasn’t trying to make fun of you, just remembering that we’d covered something else that was (as far as I knew) French.

  11. Ok. All I meant really is that it’s difficult to come to terms with the fact that non-French speaking (as far as I know) discerning music writers don’t necessarily find Olivia Ruiz or Bisso Na Bisso so damn annoying.

  12. The idea that any musician is “not OK to like where I come from” is a painful one.

  13. Not if you don’t take it too seriously it’s not.
    I guess I’ve just been slightly bitter since the Lucksmiths split.
    Thanks for taking my side anyway.

  14. Worry not, Fred, we liked “1901” a lot, would have been nearly 8 if not for that fun-hater Mr Skidmore! But next time Najoua Belyzel puts out a single you might want to run for cover.