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Back 2 Tape: Paris

Back 2 Tape

Two creative yet different children of this fascinating scene are Nicolas Couturieux and Théodore Despre. They fight for graffiti as an art form, for French rap, for values - and for the generations to come. The 23-year-old Théodore Despre is known in France under his stage name Lord Esperanza. Early on, the shooting star of the French hip-hop scene proved that rhymes don't have to come from the ghetto. My childhood was not very easy. I grew up in two different worlds. My mother did not have much money, but she supported me in everything. My father often took me to classical concerts and readings, and that shapes my music today, says Théodore Despre. In the meantime, Lord Esperanza not only has millions of clicks on YouTube and Spotify, but also his own label onto which French newcomers are signed. Language as a passion The 23-year-old Théodore Despre is known in France under his stage name Lord Esperanza. Despre is atypical for a rapper. My childhood was not very easy. I grew up in two different worlds. My mother did not have much money, but she supported me in everything. My father often took me to classical concerts and readings, and that shapes my music today, says Théodore Despre. He has now been making music professionally for more than four years.

An artist with responsibility Lord Esperanza enriches hip-hop without excess. For example, he speaks out strongly against the use of drugs. "Fortunately, there are still artists with responsibility. I try to be one of them. I want to give the new generation some hope - times are crazy enough," says Despre. Hip hop started with a political opinion - today it has become more and more entertainment. I'm trying to change that, along with a lot of other great artists, here in Paris, Despre says.

Art collector, curator, hip-hopper

Someone else who follows exactly the same maxim meets me at a rather unusual place for hip-hop: in an art print shop. In 2017, Nicolas Couturieux and a few like-minded people will breathe new life into the old, heavy printing rollers.

Art curator, hip-hop producer and editor. Couturieux is a veteran of the Parisian creative scene. "I want graffiti to be established as an art form at some point, to be exhibited in museums," says Couturieux. "Because for many art lovers, graffiti is still an affront."

Establishing graffiti as a contemporary art form

Couturieux’s first attempt to pay homage to French and American graffiti artists has been going on since 2018 in the cities of Paris, Nancy and Toulouse in cooperation with a collective for contemporary art: Le Hangar107.

To make sure that it remains so, the art lover engages in many different levels. "Whether sprayers, dancers or MCs, there are many good artists who don't have a decent label." With his national and international contacts, Nicolas Couturieux tries to help, gets involved, and curates street art on behalf of the city.

In 2018, [music__journalist__Niko__Hüls] embarked on a journey to the roots of hip-hop in Germany in "Back to Tape". In cooperation with the hip-hop magazine Backspin.de, the Porsche Newsroom project "Back to Tape" sheds light on cultural influences through the four central elements of hip-hop: rap, DJing, breakdance and graffiti. In Part 5, Niko Hüls visits Barcelona.

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Apr 02, 2020 at 11:06

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