In brief, far from all of these uncertain certainties, Slam is before all the mouth that gives and the ears that take. It is the way that is easiest to share a text, to share emotions and the desire to play with words. Slam is perhaps an art, Slam is perhaps a movement, Slam is surely a Moment… A moment of listening, a moment of tolerance, a moment of meeting, a moment of sharing. Finally, good, I said it…” – Grand Corps Malade
Slam. You’ve probably already heard of it.
Slam originated in the United States during the 1980s with Marc Smith as a way to redefine poetry and encourage the search for personal identity, and it still remains a popular form of poetry today. Type “slam poetry” into the YouTube search bar – you’ll likely come across American slam artist, Taylor Mali, and my personal favorite video:
But what does Slam have to do with France? Would a country home to such legendary poets as Baudelaire, Hugo, Verlaine (to name a few) accept this new phenomenon of poetry? The answer: an overwhelming yes – the slam movement seems to have taken France by storm.
It is necessary to emphasize that Slam, considered a positive and educational movement, is especially influential on the French youth. According to 129H Productions, Slam is a means to face the civic disempowerment of French youth – notably within the banlieues,which have reputations for violence, poverty, and poor education. With the use of Slam, participants learn to reflect on themselves, on the society they live in, and on their sens de vie (sense of life or role) in society through artistic and literary practice. It also gives participants the opportunity to voice their opinions, and to address conflicts that the community is currently facing. This encourages the search for personal cultural identity as well as strengthens the community as a whole.
While Slam poetry itself has enough power to spread the slam movement throughout France, it helps to have an ambassador. Grand Corps Malade, currently known as the the “Le Maître” or “master” of Slam, is the stage name of successful poetry artist, Fabien Marsaud. His contributions have escalated the slam movement’s popularity not only in France, but throughout Europe as well.
Check out Grand Corps Malade’s new single, “Roméo kiffe Juliette,” which gives a fresh take on the classic Shakespeare tragedy by conveying some of France’s current racial and religious conflicts. In this version, Roméo is Muslim, and Juliet, Jewish:
*NOTE: The word “kiffe” is French urban slang for “like” or “love”
Like it? Grand Corps Malade’s next album, 3ème temps, will be released in France on October 18, 2010.