How do you reach out to the impoverished youth of Paris’ suburbs in order to gain their vote?
By addressing them as “Niggas in Paris” and producing a flashy video, of course.
At least, that’s what the people behind the campaign of Socialist candidate François Hollande seem to think.
The video, which debuted yesterday, is titled 48H avec FH (“48 hours with François Hollande) and it shows the candidate visiting the banlieues of Paris. The clip’s soundtrack is “Niggas in Paris,” by American rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West from their 2011 work “Watch the Throne.”
In two days, the clip has been viewed more than 50,000 times.
There is nothing wrong with presidential candidates using popular songs for their campaigns. In the U.S. for example, it’s somewhat of a tradition to do so. In 2008, many music stars endorsed Obama, including Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen and Will.I.AM among others.
But one of the problems is that apparently, Hollande’s team did not ask for permission to use the song.
Bruno Laforestrie, one of Hollande’s cultural advisers, said the following in an interview by French newssite 24Actu:
“There was no official request (…) it’s a video that was produced at the beginning with the idea of a ‘making-of,’ we thought we could get 300 views.”
More importantly, perhaps the biggest problem with this video, is that this particular song is not suitable for the purpose that the candidate’s campaign meant to use it for. If their goal was to make Hollande seem more approachable and “cool,” that obviously backfired because instead, it makes him seem detached from the people and even ignorant.
It’s even hard to fathom that Hollande’s campaign team doesn’t really understand the song’s lyrics.
For example, the expletives “motherf*****,” “bit****,” and “s****,” to name a few are repeated constantly. The song is in English but French people understand what these words mean. These terms are expected of a rap song. But, are these really words that a potential future president of France should use to address the country’s citizens?
The rest of the song’s original lyrics and also don’t make sense as far as expressing any sort of political message.
Here is an excerpt of the song:
Doctors say I’m the illest
Cause I’m suffering from realness
Got my niggas in Paris
And they going gorillas, huh!
(See all the lyrics here)
Specifically, what about the use of the word “nigga?” Does Hollande’s campaign really think that referring to France’s black and Middle Eastern minorities as his “niggas in Paris” is a wise move?
It’s surprising that most of the French media hasn’t really reported on the choice of the song.
If this had happened in America, and say, Mitt Romney had done the same, there would be a huge uproar. The media would have a field day with it. It’s hard to understand why that is not the case in France.
French people aren’t stupid. On the video’s YouTube page, it has a sizeable number of dislikes.
What would Jay-Z and Kanye West say about this candidate’s use of their song?
Most likely their famous line: “That s*** cray.”
As a comparison, watch Barack Obama´s Music Video from his 2008 campaign.