How Tito Prince’s Gang-Life Testimony Impacts the Mainstream of French Rap
A few days ago, we presented to you the French Christian Hip-Hop pioneers Leader Vocal. If France has its “Cross Movement,” it also has its “Lecrae.” Not musically obviously, but in terms of mainstream impact. This rapper is Tito Prince. In this music video, that we subtitled in English, you can discover the story of his older self, under the name of Zaiko.
The French lyricist belongs to this category of artist where the leitmotiv is to stretch his own limits, to go outside of his comfort zone and to switch up the codes of Hip-Hop. Though he can release original turn-up songs, Prince chose “Zaïko,” as the first single off his recent album “ToTi Nation II.” In a trap music era, he wanted to challenge the consciousness of the listeners through storytelling.
With surprising realism and cynical poetry, the French rapper depicts the pilgrimage of a young black kid in a world between good and evil, between the temptations of the gang life and the will to be an exemplary son. And with more than one million views in the original video on YouTube, the impact of this song has touched more than Christian people.
THE STORY OF A PRINCE IN THE GHETTO
Tito Prince is a rapper and a complete artist. He has a flow, a gift for writing, and a story. He was born and raised in a Congolese family in the banlieue (the suburb) of Paris. His grandparents suffered from the violence and the misery of the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the 20th century: arrests, executions, exile. A story in History which will impact in his own journey.
Prince lived a naive and happy childhood surrounded by his parents, brothers, and sisters. At the age of 7, the family moved to his aunt’s little apartment in Pantin, where his cousins lived. When he became a teenager, hard life conditions and the awareness of his family’s story pushed Prince to embrace the gang world. It was the only way for him to get by and to live with dignity.
It was also the time when he started rapping and he shared his time between the streets and music. At the age of 20, he was living what he calls “The Dream of The Banlieusard” – fast money, friends, girls.
HÔPITAL DE LA FONTAINE
However, one day, the suburban boy was involved in a fight and was violently assaulted. He spent a long moment at Delafontaine General Hospital in Saint-Denis. It was at this moment when he became fed up with this dangerous life. Tito Prince decided to be fully committed to Christ and music, to leave the street life, and, most importantly, to honor the name of his family. The 2013 song “Hôpital De La Fontaine” demonstrates the seriousness of his decision:
“I was losing my time but the chosen rose / In this fight against the Devil, I know Jesus had to be involved //
I get rid of this stretcher and will persevere / it’s time to focus on my Father’s business.”
Tito Prince pays attention to style as well as the content. It is particularly his story that inspires his writing. With talent, he proposes a different conception of French rap, where the ego-trip and pride trend is dominating the industry. Between anecdotes and metaphors, he evokes the good, the bad and the ugly of the street life, daily fights, faith, family, and hope. To reach a mainstream audience, he puts his rhyme ability in the service of his text, in a clever, touching and relatable way.
You can watch the subtitled version of Z A Ï K O below.
You can buy his 2016 album ToTi Nation II on iTunes or stream it on Spotify.