It has been a while now since I last listened to French artists, be it Rap singers or Pop ones. Yet, I must admit I admire some of them, especially those who have been able to gain the respect
of a big part of the French population. Were you to ask people in the streets of Paris about their opinion on Johnny Haliday, you would for sure hear the same answer more than once: -“I do not like Johnny Halliday’s songs but I respect the character; the symbol he represents and his exceptionally long and successful career in the music industry.”
I would say the same things of Mélanie Georgiades. It has been years now since I abandoned the world of French rap music. I remember those days when working as a manager for the rap group known as Voodooding Institute, I would be aware of any new released album, single or EP. At the time, my life seemed deeply connected with the lyrics that happened to be passing through my headphones. Junk food was also our ritual in the group, taking place after each passage to the studio. It is thus, that by just listening and watching the others I learnt how to put my voice on a bit to the point that I am hardly impressed by the flows of most French rappers today. Being first
of all a poet I sometimes even find some of the Hip Hop lyrics lacking in depth or ‘deepness’ (as you like).
However, as I was putting it out earlier, there really is something special about Melanie Georgiades. Anyone who has got a soul can only but be touched by the twenty nine year old girl’s fate; the way she was once put in the forefront and spotlights of all media a’s representing by excellence the French rap industry and then criticized and boycotted by all after making her re-conversion to Islam public. Some feminist movements and associations such as the ‘Ni Pute Ni soumise’ association (Not whore nor submissive) parodied by the comedian Jamel Debouze as the “Mi-pute Mi soumise” (Half whore, half submissive) even qualified her conversion as regrettable. According to the president of the
association, Sihem Habchi: -“it is ‘very sad’ to see her transmitting to the younger generations such a message through her re-conversion”. Sihem Habchi also explained that the younger generation was expecting a lot from the pop star who in a way had committed herself on the issue of equality between boys and girls.
These reactions contrast of course a lot with those experienced by another artist who, just like Melanie Georgiades, is of Cypriot origin. When Ysusuf Islam most known as Cats Stevens embraced Islam in 1978 in the U.K, his new spiritual life was seen by the British media as an opportunity to bridge the gap between different cultures all confined within the United Kingdom. For Melanie Georgiades most known under the name of Diam’s the reality in France and three decades later is quite different.
The young girl had to confirm her new allegiance to Islam after she was seen coming out from a mosque dressed in an Islamic outfit last summer. She has decided since then not to speak or accept any interview. -“I do not speak anymore I rap,” she claimed. Because her re-conversion was the source of lots of criticisms, some often coming from some French politicians, Melanie Georgiades alias Diam’s has refused to promote her new album via the media.
Far from the music industry and the show business world, the artist who has been wearing the Islamic headscarf since very recently is now taking part in lots of charity organizations. Two month ago, she was seen on stage taking the “mic” and performing for the cause of associations such as Emmaüs or on behalf of prisoners in the prison of Luynes near the Aix-en-Provence region. In most cases the show was given for free which of course to mine eyes gives another dimension to the artist.