An all-time student-favorite among the classes I created combines two French songs by Parisian hip hop artist Black M. The first one, Je suis chez moi (literally “I am home”) is about reclaiming and affirming Frenchness despite the social exclusion faced as a black man in France.
The second part of the class contrasts the first song with a second song from him, À l’Ouest (literally “Out West”—in West Africa) in which Black M expresses his rootedness in Guinea. He travels to his “other home” with his co-star (rapper MHD, also from Guinea) in the music video.
It is always fascinating to put these two songs into conversation and hear students’ interpretations. The two songs showcase how much young French artists and individuals value multiculturalism despite the French Republic’s systemic opposition to hyphenated identities.
Song 1: Je suis chez moi
Song 2: À l’Ouest (featuring MHD)
- Handout for the lyrics
- Downloadable PowerPoint – you can copy and paste slides directly into your presentation.
- Online PowerPoint slides
This class activity makes it fun to examine complex French historical and social phenomena like immigration and assimilation.
The first song includes several references to French politics as well as to the French Revolution. For instance, Black M sings in the hook:
“I am French / But they don’t want Marianne to be my fiancée / Maybe it is because of my dark skin / Let me just invite her to dance.”
Marianne is the allegory of the French Republic. Other visual references in the first music video include the red Phrygian cap of the French Revolution.