France: Top rap artist makes comeback

France: Top rap artist makes comeback

France's best-selling rap singer Diam's released a new album Monday after a three-year hiatus that has seen the 29-year-old voice of Paris suburban angst undergo psychiatric treatment and embrace Islam.

The musical comeback of the Cypriot-born star came one month after she caused a stir when photos of her wearing a long black headscarf at a Paris area mosque were published in celebrity magazines.

Diam's, whose real name is Melanie Georgiades, reached super-stardom in France in 2006 with the release of "Dans Ma Bulle" (In My Bubble) in which she rapped about racism, poverty and injustice in France.

She won an MTV Europe Music Award in 2006 for best French act and "Dans Ma Bulle" became the best-selling album that year, with more than one million copies sold.

Success however proved to be poison for Diam's, who talks about overcoming a bout of depression and her conversion to Islam in her new album "SOS".

"Modern medicine was not able to heal my soul, so I turned to religion," she was quoted as saying about her conversion to Islam.

The artist spent much of last year avoiding the paparazzi and checking in and out of hospitals for treatment for mental illness.

After hitting rock bottom, she spent a couple of months pouring her heart out in a studio and the result is "SOS", with its debut single titled "I Am Somebody" in English.

Many of her songs deal with mental distress, but the loaded issue of being a Muslim in France comes up in "Lily" where she raps "I am the enemy because I am a convert and I wear the veil."

A prominent rights group has spoken out against Diam's, saying she has undergone an unfortunate makeover from a feisty streetwise girl from the suburbs to a subservient and traditional Muslim woman.

"With this new image, Diam's represents submission, tradition and isolation," Safia Labdi, president of Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Whores nor Submissive) group defending women's rights.

"Diam's has had a hard time," she told Le Parisien newspaper. "She was lost and found herself by wearing the veil. This is something that we unfortunately see with a lot of young girls."


Source: AFP (English)

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