(AFP) – He sets the record straight: at the dawn of his 40 years, OrelSan rewinds his past, sticks to the time and plans tomorrow with an album crossed by the question of “transmission”, as he does. confides to AFP.
Despite the immense success of his previous record “La fête est finie”, the rapper has remained “simple, basic” to quote his hit from four years ago. He tumbles alone, in an electric scooter, in the street of the Parisian meeting fixed with AFP. Very happy with the anonymity conferred by wearing a mask in times of health crisis.
But behind the relaxation, the goldsmith is still there. Among his new collection of jewels, we find “Manifesto” and “The smell of gasoline” in a vein of social and political chronicles.
“Manifesto” is a 7 minute bravery track about a demonstration gone wrong, with beautiful cinematic writing. He speaks of it first of all as “pure fiction”. But these are indeed fragments of reality that he sculpts.
In Paris (he is divided between the capital and his native Normandy), he lives not far from the Place de la République, a rallying point for the “demonstrations”, those rare places where a lot of different people come together for various reasons, maintain order, claim, onlookers … “. The character of the caregiver of the title was born from his frequent visits to his “grandmother in nursing home”, as he reveals.
And then there is the first single released, “The smell of gasoline”, unstoppable tackle to the cocktail of controversy / extremism / excess served in certain debates around the presidential campaign.
– “Shadow and light” –
“I’m not too current but by talking with the people around me I see that it becomes the themes of the campaign,” he says modestly. Before developing: “When I called the album + Civilization + I was mainly thinking at first about science fiction, about + Foundation + (cult book) by Isaac Asimov, the flag on the cover, it was the idea of post reconstruction -apocalyptic “.
The apocalypse is there, already, between the suicide of a music teacher who appears in “The quest”, just like the ecological disaster and the human exploitation in dotted lines in “Fuck the world”.
But the album doesn’t just have a dark side. Humor and self-mockery are still there, as on the fireworks “Casseurs Flowters Infinity” with his accomplice Gringe. And the record ends with a constructive approach to the future.
An opus between “shadow and light”, as he sings it in the first and last title, “Shonen” and “Civilization”. Like a loop that marks the hour of the assessment and perspectives.
“I am 39 years old, I am married, it is the last album of my contract (with the record company), there is a first part reflection on the past, a negative side then a more positive side”.
– Pharrell Williams –
And his big question is therefore: “What are you going to pass on to your children? + Civilization +, it is the society that surrounds me and what I can bring”. “Learn to unlearn” he chants in response in “Civilization” where also the desire of a descent perspires.
Musically, he already leaves a beautiful legacy. On “Last Glass”, he offers himself a collaboration with Pharrell Williams.
The Neptunes, a producer-star duo including Pharrell Williams, made him dream from the start, as can be seen in the event documentary series on his career, “Never Show That To Anyone” (Amazon Prime Video) .
“It’s incredible, crazy, to have them on this record,” he breathes. But how to reach them? “I asked Pedro Winter (former manager of Daft Punk, boss of the electro label Ed Banger), I knew they knew each other, telling him + excuse, maybe it’s ultra pretentious but it would be possible to ask the Neptunes? + “. “And then Pedro says + yeah why not? I’m texting Pharrell + (laughs)”.
And after quarantine (15 days in fact) in Mexico imposed by the Covid-19, the meeting took place in a studio in Miami. Simple, basic. This is also the track “Basic” that Pedro Winter had sent as a link in his text message to Pharrell Williams.