SMH at a French presidential candidate using this song for his campaign. SMH.
Jay-Z and Kanye West’s recent hit “Ni**as in Paris” is about them. They rap about being so phenomenally rich, about how they “ball so hard,” buy Rolexes and cars, pop gold bottles with models in Paris nightclubs, that the rest of us slobs couldn’t fathom their lives. It may seem like an odd choice for a campaign song for a politician trying to appeal to oppressed racial and ethnic minorities. But it’s apparently working for — or at least not hurting — Francois Hollande. The French Socialist eked out a win last Sunday in the first round of presidential voting to decide who will run France for the next five years. He will face President Nicolas Sarkozy in a run-off May 6.
This month, Hollande appeared in a slickly edited online video featuring West and Jay-Z’s stadium anthem. In the video, Hollande — who has been roundly criticized for his lack of charisma — strides like a rock star amongst his black, Arab and multiethnic supporters in the working-class suburb of Creil. “Got my ni**as in Paris, and they going gorillas,” West raps as Hollande is shown leading discussions between men in suits and then talking to voters of multiple races and ages. Crowds in the street and the subway smile excitedly as Hollande approaches them. Supporters raise their voter cards to the camera. A man shouts, “To hell with Sarko!” – a common shorthand reference to Sarkozy.
A black woman holds the French flag and exclaims, “François, president! Inshallah, Inshallah!” — Arabic for “God willing.” A lyric in Jay-Z and Kanye’s song sounds like “Creil,” which is pronounced “cray,” although the context suggests they mean “crazy.” Although the video appeared to be a campaign advertisement, the Hollande campaign denied producing it. Hollande’s video is edgy, has a good beat and shows people having a good time: all the ingredients for successful marketing. So what if it uses a racial slur, not to mention frequent profane and sexually degrading language? The consumer behavior researcher said the song’s racial slur is universally offensive. Using it, or being perceived as tacitly endorsing it, could backfire for Hollande.
“In France, ‘negro’ is definitely defamatory,” he said. “It isn’t a matter of whether or not minority Parisians or suburbanites are even able to make the translation.”
The video has more than 300,000 YouTube views since its April 10th posting and has made numerous international headlines. Hollande’s campaign ad could be considered a form of ethnic or multicultural marketing.
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