columbine, the controversial french rap collective, is back with a new video
The collective from Rennes has released the video for ‘Rémi’ from its eagerly anticipated sophomore album.
Since 2014, a group of friends from the suburbs of Rennes has been shaking up Breton rap (and rap at large) with a completely unique approach that lies somewhere between adolescent navel-gazing and cool romanticism. The dubiously named Columbine collective, orbiting around the rappers Foda C and Lujipeka, extends beyond music to include video, production, and even humour. Almost three years ago, you may have seen the group's viral video 'Charles - Vicomte,' a brilliant hip-hop satire of rich people that has almost three million views on YouTube.
That was them, with a sweater around their shoulders, a bottle of Dom Pérignon in one hand and a golf club in the other, who chanted the refrain: "Poor people don't understand, I would let go of a bill but only if you don't bring it back." It was like a version of TTC's 'De Pauvres Riches' of 2002, but on acid. There was the same delectable irony, a signature of the group that it isn't confined by: "We see Charles Vicomte more as a satirical figure than a parodic figure, and in hindsight it was the first track of its kind. It was a fun project that we wanted to run with, but it doesn't really reflect who we are, for that I would check out Columbine by Les Prélis. Irony has always been part of what we do, but we're always taken seriously, even when it's satire."
When our colleagues over at Noisey asked them in 2016 if the name of their group was a reference to the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School, the duo responded, "Yes, but it's mostly a reference to the Gus Van Sant film Elephant [which is based partly on the shooting]. Not to apologize for the shooting but because of the flow of the film, its aesthetics and the relationship between the two guys. It's an ode to adolescence." So it's difficult not to see how Columbine -- the group -- encapsulates the somber side of adolescence, including its provocations, its insouciance, and its volatility. We can find all of that in its second album, Enfants Terribles, which is out in April. About this follow-up to 2016's Clubbing for Columbine, they say, "Our approach to the music hasn't really changed. We kept the same spontaneity, but we grew."
Which has been proved twice now, first with the album's eponymous clip, which came out in February, and now with 'Rémi.' The wild, savage, and hypnotic video is the perfect echo of the melancholy production and the lightness of the flow. "We always direct our videos ourselves, with our own money. It's a visual representation of the sound. We can always reference other work in our videos, but the direction is intuitive and the Columbine signature is always there. Foda directed the video for 'Rémi' by imagining the scenes, the decor, the characters, how it's all filmed, and then once we're on set we adapt everything to what's in our minds." We can't even begin to analyze what they have in their minds. They're romantic, and mature enough to know not to grow up too fast. Regardless, the artists of Columbine see themselves as enfants terribles, and they're very clear about what that means to them: "It means not waiting to get scooped up, to do as well as you can while everybody else struggles at university."
Text Antoine Mbemba
Photography Melchior Tersen