MC Solaar has ruled the French rap trade for more than a decade. But you don't have to be fluent in French to marvel at the Senegalese-born Paris-bred MC's verbal dexterity. The mic specialist continues his trademark flow on his latest effort, Cinquieme As, name-checking an intriguing cast of characters that includes Fidel Castro, Faust and Picasso, to name a few. Solaar has always relied on his innate sense of playfulness to command attention. Combine that with his unparalleled production sense, and it's no wonder hip hop superstars like Missy Elliott have called on his unique powers, with Missy snagging the charismatic Solaar to remix her smash hit, "All In My Grill."
You can trace Solaar's ascension back to the career making album he released in 1991, Qui seme le vent recolte le tempo. The effervescent disc set a new standard in French rap, veering away from the angrier tone that had gripped the hip-hop of the early '90's, and replacing it with a more fluid, poetic slab of wordslinging. In 1994 Prose Combat picked up where his breakthrough disc had left off, selling more than a million copies along the way and establishing MC Solaar as a force to be reckoned with, even beyond France. He soon became recognized as a rapper with global appeal. Still, MC Solaar refused to compromise or pull punches with his loyal French and European fan base, releasing the socially provocative Paradisiaque, in 1997. He followed with the eponymous album and his first Elektra release, MC Solaar in 1998, rounding off the decade with his very own book that reflected on nearly ten year's worth of work.
On Cinquieme As, (which has sold more than Prose Combat in France) the MC of Villeneuve St George is determined to kick off a new decade by packing more than a few surprises this time around. New team. New approach. Brand new musical flavors to share with his loyal fans. The album playfully celebrates the French language, forever cementing his place as one of the world's most accomplished hip-hop ambassadors.
Solaar could have infused the comeback effort with the usual hip-hop bells and whistles, but he chose instead to get back to the game he knows best: In your face beats coupled with a sly knack for telling stories. The players who drop in for Solaar's newest efforts are there because of the appreciation he has for their talent. Guests include the loyal Bambi Cruz, Black Jack, and the unknown Don X_r_ Delavega whose contributions lend a more understated feel to the disc. The production team Solaar plucked adds solid underground credentials: DJ Kurser, DJ Mac and DJ Sample, with the meatier beats being laid down by the Black Rose Corporation.
Cinquieme As includes a varied array of subject matter. There's an ode to a sorrowful past on "Colonies", a tribute to one of rap's pioneers on "Leve toi et rap", and advice to a young girl on "Baby Love". "RMI" is the chronicle of a wayward underclass, and the heartwrenching "D_g_ts Collat_raux", gives a unique perspective to the recent teenage shootings that have been grabbing the headlines. The singles "Solaar Pleure" and "Hasta La Vista" have already outsold previous Solaar single in France and Europe.
The twenty-track CD defines MC Solaar like no other previous work. Cinquieme As is undeniable proof that the groundbreaking star has accomplished his mission, breathing new life into an international rap movement that he helped forge all those years ago.