Claude M'barali, better known as MC Solaar, was born 1969 in Senegal. He emigrated with his family to France at an early age. He ended up living in the rough Paris banlieue of Villeneuve St Georges. These suburbs were very downtrodden and one of the worst places in France to live. There were huge amounts of violence and drugs around.

It was against this background that young Solaar worked hard to stay in school and get an education. He was passionate about reading and would often stay very late at the library on many nights. Solaar managed to stay out of trouble and started rapping about age 13.

Solaar first hit success in 1991 with his first single Caroline which reached number one in France. This was taken from his first album, Qui Séme le Vent Récolte le Tempo. Solaar's second album, Prose Combat, was a huge success in France and he got a golden disc for it. Solaar by now was firmly placed among the elite of French rap artists. His laid back style was winning him converts outside the traditional hip hop fan group.

Both Paradisiaque and his self-titled MC Solaar were huge successes in France and even begun to gain him some real recognition among hip hop fans outside France.

Throughout his career Solaar has continued a theme of non-violence and as little profanity as possible in his songs. He has always avoided the "gangsta" lifestyle of other, particularly American, rap and hip hop artists. He has had high profile collaborations with artists such as Missy Elliott but when he visits America he says he does not understand the lifestyle of the big hip hop stars over there.

Solaar's has not only rejected traditional stereotypes of Hip Hop stars but also refused to rap in English. He is a proficient English speaker but says that he prefers his native French and has won much acclaim from traditional groups in France. He is seen as the perfect example of a modern superstar who wants to preserve French culture. The French academy, which oversees the French language, has held up Solaar's lyrics as examples of great French poetry and he is very adept exponent of Verlan, the French slang where words are reversed.

In addition Solaar is seen as a very positive black role model in a country that has problems with racism. His non-violent style and lyrics mean that he is often held up to be an excellent role model for children.

Solaar's music is very much a flowing and relaxed hip hop rather than hard rap style. He has some smooth swinging jazz elements in his songs and in the UK he has been supported by Guru's Jazzmatazz and Giles Peterson. Guru is a rap/hip hop/jazz crossover artist and Giles Peterson is a wide ranging hip hop/jazz/worldwide music DJ.

Solaar's greatest talent is his lyrical ability but unfortunately, being English, I cannot appreciate this properly at all. I can only get a crude idea of the theme of the song but all the delightful clever word play and poetry of his lyrics passes me by. While I have read translations it bears no resemblance to the genius of the lyrics especially as no really skilled translator has had a go at doing them justice.

Solaar has also done, in collaboration with other rappers, the sountrack to La Haine, an excellent French film about life in the tough Banlieue of Paris. The track, Comme dans un film, contains many more references to violence in it than any other Solaar track but this is due to the nature of the film.

Great Neb's Picks


1991 - Qui Séme le Vent Récolte le Tempo

  1. Intro
  2. Qui Séme le Vent Récolte le Tempo
  3. Matière Grasse Contre Matière Grise
  4. Victime de la Mode
  5. L'Histoire de l'Art
  6. Armand Est Mort
  7. Quartier Nord
  8. Interlude
  9. A Temps Partiel
  10. Caroline
  11. La Musique Adoucit Les Meurs
  12. Bouge de Là (Pt. 1)
  13. Bouge de Là (Pt. 2)
  14. Ragga Jam
  15. La Devise
  16. Funky Dreamer

1994 - Prose Combat

  1. Aubade
  2. Obsolète
  3. Nouveau Western
  4. La Claire Fontaine
  5. Superstarr
  6. La Concubine de l'Hémoglobine
  7. Dévotion
  8. Temps Mort
  9. L'Nmiaccd'htck72kpop
  10. Séquelles
  11. Dieu Ait Son Âme
  12. A Dix de Mes Disciples
  13. La Fin Justifie Les Moyens
  14. Relations Humaines
  15. Prose Combat

1997 Paradisiaque

  1. Intro
  2. Paradisiaque
  3. Gangster Moderne
  4. Tournicoti
  5. Zoom
  6. Le Sens de la Vie - Mc Solaar
  7. Dakota
  8. Illico Presto
  9. Les Temps Changent
  10. Daydreamin'
  11. Les Boys Bandent
  12. Les Pensées Sont des Flowers
  13. Wonderbra - Mc Solaar
  14. Le 11 Choc
  15. Protège-Tibia
  16. Quand le Soleil Devient Froid
  17. Outro

1998 MC Solaar

  1. Onzieme Commandement
  2. Galaktika
  3. La 5eme Saison
  4. Perfect
  5. Les Songes
  6. La Vie N'Est Qu'Un Moment
  7. Vigipirap
  8. Message De L'Ange
  9. Nouvelle Genese
  10. Je Me Souviens (Flash-Back)
  11. L'Argent Ne Fait Pas Le Bonheur

1998 Le Tour de la Question

Disc: 1

  1. Nitro
  2. Zoom
  3. A Dix De Mes Disciples
  4. Onzieme Commandement
  5. La Concubine De L' Hemoglobine
  6. Paradisiaque
  7. Qui Seme Le Vent Recolte Le Tempo
  8. Tournicoti
  9. Sequelles
  10. Caroline
  11. Obsolete
  12. Quand Le Soleil Devient Froid

Disc: 2

  1. Illico Presto
  2. Gangster Moderne
  3. Nouveau Western
  4. La Seme saison
  5. Bounge De La
  6. Victime De La Mode
  7. Wonderbra
  8. Les Temps Changent
  9. Galaktika
  10. Dakota
  11. Les Boys Bandent
  12. Protege-Tibia
  13. Les Temps Changent (Final)