France’s hip-hop cultural centre announced its first programme of events this week with the theme ‘Paris-New York’.
New York artists Dynasty and KRS-One will participate in conferences, concerts and DJ sets from 5-9 October. Later on in the season, the focus will shift to French artists, hosting concerts, documentary screenings, dance performances, beatbox championships and an exhibition on French hip-hop activists.
La Place is a government-funded hip-hop cultural centre consisting of studios for music, dance and art, two concert venues, entrepreneur workstations, space for artists to collaborate and a bar that is open to the public. Although the bar has been open since April, this is the first programme of events slated to take place in the new centre.
La Place is part of Les Halles, one of Europe’s busiest underground stations. The location is not coincidental as the centre bills it as the “meeting place between Paris and its suburbs, the former stronghold of the Parisian Hip Hop movement.” Hip-hop became popular in Parisian suburbs (banlieues) in the 1980’s and banlieues neighbouring all the major French cities have produced notable hip-hop artists.
The government is funding Paris’ hip-hop cultural centre and is just one of many publicly-funded projects focusing on ‘underground’ art. The apparent contradiction is not uncommon in France, Paris’ deputy mayor, Bruno Julliard told the Guardian. “There is a strong tradition in France of public finance for cultural endeavours. Hip-hop is like every other discipline … but it was the only one not yet benefiting from funding.”
While the government’s relationship with hip-hop artists has not always been smooth – rap artist Black M’s performance at the commemoration of the Battle of Verdun was cancelled – many hope the centre will mark a new respect for the hip-hop community in France and internationally. Bruno Julliard said he hopes La Place will “show that Paris can be the most beautiful city in the world, not only for its heritage but also because it is a place of innovation.”