Disiz la Peste: the métis rapper gets mixed up

Posted on septembre 22, 2009

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disiz-la-peste engDisiz la Peste, a métis rapper, recently appeared on the French show « On n’est pas couché » (We didn’t go to bed) to promote his book « Les derniers de la rue Ponty ». Instead of talking about his first book, the rapper found himself arguing with the show’s hosts. Unfortunately, the atmosphere on the set got spoiled when the conversation lead to taboo subjects: French suburbs and racial identity. On his blog, the French rapper justified his opinions during the show but he also apologized to the ones he might have disappointed.

Ok then, I admit it was not the right place to talk about it and I shouldn’t have. My book is not partial; I do not glorify Africa over France. My sister-in-law, on the contrary, seems to think I do the opposite, while Zemmour seems to think I do [glorify Africa over France] ….

And yet, the Franco-Senegalese rapper can brag about being able to hold a full conversation with the extra-zealous hosts of the show as opposed to a certain Doc Gynéco, another métis rapper who had a hard time explaining his turn-around of opinion against the suburbs. Should we blame Disiz for voicing his opinion on a never-ending discussion with a foregone conclusion? Especially because he was supposed to be promoting his book instead. Zemmour, a commentator on the « On n’est pas couché » show, has the reputation of arousing the fiercest passions. The theme of suburbs and rap being very sensitive in France, it is not surprising that Zemmour brought down wrath from some Suburban artists like Ramzi on other shows as well. With the show host Laurent Ruquier by his sides, it feels like witnessing a good cop, bad cop act… except that they have been doing it for so long that no one can get fooled again. Even when Ruquier seems to be shocked by the audacity of his commentators, many suspect he feels jubilant inside because the ratings will skyrocket.

The social unrest that the suburbs experience compared with the rest of France lies in the fact that they feel misunderstood and despised. They reproach notably to other French people their refusal to acknowledge a double standards policy in their country.

Disiz: It’s empty. I live it, this ideal of we-are-all-the-same. Liberty, equality, fraternity. To me it’s a slogan, a misleading advertising. Ever since I was a kid, they put that in my head. Except that ever since I was kid, no one showed me that I was equal to others. First things first, I am a Franco-Senegalese métis.

Zemmour (born to Algerian immigrants) refused to admit there is a separation of classes, but mostly of races. To him, the suburban who generally find refuge behind a straightjacket of victimization, enjoy demonizing France.

Zemmour: [about the book] I find that there is an infuriating, permanent moralism. Yes, it’s a good thing to do well and a bad thing to do bad. There is a general, manichean side to it. Africa is good, France is bad […]
Disiz La Peste: I have tried – precisely – as a franco-senegalese métis not to take sides but criticize both parts ».

Despite his intellectual baggage, Zemmour seemed unfamiliar with the nuance of the métis status. He gave a poignant, yet, inappropriate essay about breaking free from your origins.
Disiz exemplifies so well the complexity of mixed heritage (racially and/or culturally). Being born and raised in France,  he discovered Africa when he was much older. It’s impossible to ignore the French culture and blood both run through his veins even though he tries his best to embrace his Senegalese side. On his blog, he explains:

I am told France is not a country of communities. Because of my diverse origins – of my rickety status of suburban/provincial – I have never been part of any community. […] “Those who are mine” are my children because they are black and they have Muslim names. This discrimination some try to lessen is well and truly there, whether it is ethnic, social or cultural. I am not tied to my origins because I have two [origins], I am from Picardie and Rufisque. […]  “Those who are mine” is this guy in Senegal who told me at the end of a show: “you talk about Africa but you don’t do anything for Africa. You are just a white dude who stands up for his suburb, the real ghetto is here…”

Paradoxical? What needs to be remembered is that he’s proud to be a métis… And also that he published a book.

Watch his appearance here (video in French only).