Friday August 01, 2014

'Franglais' controversy just paranoia, says Dead Obies MC

Listen 21:50
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Quebecois MC Yes McCan (Jean-François Ruel) joins guest host Piya Chattopadhyay to discuss the controversy swirling around his group,  Dead Obies, for blending English and French lyrics. 

Prominent cultural observers in the province warn that the popularity of "franglais" is a step towards total assimilation -- but the artist says those fears are overblown. 

"When underground culture gets mainstream exposure, people are bound to be shocked," he tells Piya, adding that the lyrics are reflective of the way his friends really speak, and that there are both practical and artistic reasons for the blend. 

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Although he notes harsh words don't faze people used to the rap battle scene, he did feel compelled to speak for himself as the attacks and counter-attacks continued to pile up. 

  • Photo inset: Yes McCan (Christian Côté/Radio-Canada)

"I felt like I was a boxer in the corner and I had to fight my way out of it," he says, referring to his response piece in Voir

Franglais doesn't exist, Yes McCan argues, adding that the critiques stem from paranoia and intergenerational misunderstanding. 

"We're the internet generation. We're worldwide-oriented while keeping our identity strong," he says, adding that art has always been about bending and breaking the rules. 

"You cannot create for the flag or for the country. You really have to start from a personal place, your personal experience, and then reach outward. Truth comes from the inside out, not the outside in." 

The language of prestige

Mathieu Bock-Côté of Le Journal de Montreal is one of the group's main critics. Below is a translated clip of his stance, which we played on air: 

"Franglais, as it is spread, not just through rap songs, but in our society, is symptomatic of what? In my view, it's symptomatic first of all, of the fact that more and more in Montreal -- and Quebec in general --  English is replacing French as the language of prestige. 

Secondly, that the French language is regressing in Montreal with regards to its capacity to integrate newcomers. But even more fundamentally, we are seeing Franglais being used more often on a daily basis among Francophones themselves." 

Qui c'est qui run le game now?

Listen to Dead Obies on Bandcamp, or watch the Dead Obies video for Montréal $ud in the window embedded below. Please note: this video contains explicit lyrics -- in both official languages. 


>Hear the full interview by clicking on the listen button above.