The 180

Vivre le Franglais! La Presse sovereigntist Marc Cassivi rushes to the side of rap group Dead Obies

Quebec rap group Dead Obies recently returned an $18,000 grant after their new album's lyrics fell short of the required percentage of French. While you might expect sovereigntists to rejoice in the efficacy of Quebec's language laws, La Presse arts critic and self-described sovereigntist Marc Cassivi says language shouldn't be a prison.
Montreal rap group Dead Obies meld together French and English in their lyrics and say any controversy around 'Franglais' is simply paranoia.

Whether you like rap or not, there's no arguing the genre often results in a melding of cultures. 

And in Quebec, it's not surprising that rappers find their voice by melding together French and English.

But unlike their musical counterparts in other parts of the country, rappers who want to be eligible for grants and awards in la belle province have to adhere to strict language requirements. 

Take Montreal's Dead Obies for example. 

The controversial group recently had to return an $18,000 grant because the ratio of French to English in the lyrics on their new album fell short of the grant requirement. 

For some, that might be proof that Quebec's language laws are working the way they should. But even though La Presse arts critic Marc Cassivi is a proud sovereigntist, he says artists like Dead Obies should not have any language restrictions placed on their work. 

"You should be able to sing in any language you like, and invent a language if you want," says Cassivi. 

It's a problem symptomatic of a larger societal problem in Quebec, says Cassivi, and it's one he tackles in his new book Mauvaise Langue

He argues the era of fearing English has passed, and now Quebec's modern society needs to re-think its identity in a way that reflects all the cultures and languages that call it home. 

Click on the blue button to hear the interview.