I am quite well known in certain uncertain circles for my love of rap – and my love of rapping. I’m less well known for being loved for my rapping, a struggle that has only made me more determined over the years.
I’m word perfect on many a Jay-Z or Q-Tip track. My other party tricks include Nicki Minaj’s verse in Kanye West’s Monster and being ‘clear as DVD on digital TV screen’ like Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes in No Scrubs, the latter demonstrating my long career in white man rapaoke. My game name is D-M-inem aka the real but less-slim shady.
So, you can imagine my sense of both challenge and dismay when French synth-pop beauty Christine (and her Queens) released one of my favourite surprises of the year, ‘their’ album Chaleur Humaine (translation: human warmth), and with it one of my favourite songs I’ve heard since 2015 – Tilted. I think you can see, bucking the old-fashioned trend, I do like to play favourites. And why not? Favourites are definitely some my favourite things.
Tilted – in name and sound – is a smooth and unsuspected jam. It’s a creeper and a grower. It’s a lover and a fighter. It’s in English … and it’s also in French.
Although I’ve mastered the sung English bits (“I am actually good, can’t help it if we’re tilted”, or my favourite “I match them with my Euphoria”) unfortunately for me it’s the spoken-word-rap part that’s in French. Mon dieu!
It’s not that I’m averse to learning a new language. As of this week I’m now a very proud 11% fluent in Portuguese according to my on-line teacher, Duolingo. Apparently I speak it with a Chinese accent … but surely that only accentuates my worldliness even further. Duolingo is now being used with primary school students across the globe. Was I inadvertently their guinea piglet? If so, I say “oink, oink”, which is a pig sound in Portuguese. Ok, I’m just showing off now. To balance things out I should note that my ‘partial fluency’ has taken almost 12 months to achieve.
Taking all that into account, learning French in time to showcase my skills at a time when this song is still relevant seems beyond even my wildest realities. Even despite me currently living with three French nationals.
BUT then just last night someone was actually impressed by my rap-dition of No Scrubs so perhaps all hope is not lost in translation. Maybe in 2025 when I’ve mastered Portuguese I will move onto French, before finally mastering French rap and Tilted. Oui!
In the meantime, I’ll continue the struggle and to refine my craft in the name of enjoyment, silencing the critics by being louder than they are. In a nice little turn of events, Christine has said herself about Tilted:
“The song is about trying to embrace this weirdness, awkwardness of yours, all those thoughts and details make you feel like you don’t belong. This is not tough, beautiful, fitting enough? Very well then, we shall dance for those who can hear the music.”
Dance to the music, she certainly does, and rap to the music I shall.
With that little vote of encouragement, that’s a rap folks.