The future of music

20 Best French Rappers of All Time

December 26, 2023
french rappers

I’ve put together a list of the best French rappers of all time, highlighting the artists who have left an indelible mark on the world of hip-hop with their unique styles and lyrical prowess.

This article celebrates the rich tapestry of French rap, showcasing the diverse talents that have shaped this dynamic genre.

Top French rappers of all time

  • MC Solaar
  • Vald
  • Booba
  • SCH
  • Jul
  • Niska
  • Ninho
  • KEKRA
  • PNL
  • MHD

1. MC Solaar

MC Solaar is widely considered the best and most influential French rapper of all time! Born in Senegal as Claude M’Barali, he adopted his stage name when he moved to Paris.

Here he released his first album, Qui Seme le Vent Recolte le Temp, in 1991.

Being one of the few French rappers to break into the American hip-hop scene, MC Solaar received several platinum certifications during his career.

Helped by his work on Guru’s Jazzmattaz album and Missy Elliott’s song “All N My Grill,” MC Solaar will remain one of the few French hip-hop artists to make it into international markets.

He’s certainly worth checking out!

2. Vald

The French rapper Valentin Le Du, who goes by the stage name Vald, sure has generated some controversy!

Known for his bizarre creativity and contentious subject matter, Vald has shot to the top of the French charts on more than one occasion.

In total, he has only released two mixtapes, two EPs, and two albums, but this hasn’t stopped him from successfully infiltrating the French rap scene.

His albums Agartha and Xeu both reached number one in France, and his EPs also performed well.

If you’re a fan of cloud rap and comedy rap, Vald is an up-and-coming rapper that you need to listen to!

3. Booba

Elie Yaffa, who adopted the stage name Booba, is the most legally downloaded French rapper ever.

Beginning his career in the 90s as a breakdancer, he is considered one of the highest-paid rappers in France.

Booba is more than just a rapper, though! The businessman expanded his brand when he established his own record label, Tallac Records, his own jewelry line, and his own clothing line.

The successful French rapper has released eleven albums, five of which have received platinum certification.

His most outstanding achievement, though, is his album Trône, which was handed diamond certification after selling over ten million copies!

4. SCH

Julien Schwarzer, better known as SCH, was born in Marseille to a French mother and German Father.

He has so far released six albums; each of which reached the top three in the Frech charts and was certified platinum.

Launching his career at the young age of thirteen, he began by posting his content on the Skyblog site under the name Schwarzer.

On becoming more popular, Schwarzer adopted the stage name SCH and began to hit the French and Belgian charts!

The gangster persona that SCH has adopted reflects upon Marseille’s reputation as a hotspot for organized crime.

Many call Marseille the “Los Angeles of French rap”, with Schwarzer fitting into the scene perfectly.

5. Jul

Born Julien Mari, Jul is another prolific French rapper from Marseille.

Described as a hip-hop powerhouse, he sent waves through the French rap scene in 2014 with his platinum-selling debut album Dans Ma Paranoïa.

Before arriving as a solo artist, though, Jul first found his feet in 2017 as part of the rap collective Ghetto Phénomène.

As a solo rapper, he’s known for the rapid rate at which he releases material!

Jul has released a whopping twenty-two albums over his career, many of which have received at least platinum status, and by the end of the 2010s, he had sold more albums than any other rapper in the history of French rap.

Now that’s dedication!

6. Niska

Stanislas Dinga Pinto, otherwise known as Niska, is a popular French rapper.

Originally a part of the rap group Negro Deep, he decided to take the stage as a solo artist in 2015.

His five albums are wildly successful, each reaching the top three in the French charts.

His 2017 album Commando received diamond certification after selling ten million copies, and many of his other singles and albums have been certified platinum, solidifying his stance in the French hip-hop scene!

Becoming a father at the young age of 16 didn’t stop Niska from reaching success!

He continued to release further music and continues to be one of the most popular French rappers of all time.

7. Ninho

Ninho broke into the French rap scene from the suburbs of Paris and began his road to stardom at the young age of 12.

He broke into the French hip-hop scene in 2017 when his album Comme Prévu topped the French album charts.

William Nzobazola, as he’s known to friends and family, has appeared on songs with several other influential French rappers, including Niska and SCH.

He has since released numerous albums, many of which have reached the number-one spot.

In 2021, Ninho solidified his standing in the history of French rap when he became the French rapper with the most certified singles, with 100 gold singles, 39 platinum singles, and an impressive 19 diamond singles!

8. KEKRA

KEKRA is perhaps the most elusive of all French rappers on this list; he rarely gives interviews and has never been seen without a mask!

For this reason, he’s rather controversial, particularly after admitting that “rap is not a real job.”

He has given a few different reasons for his hidden identity, arguing that “it’s my music you have to listen to” before stating that it’s “so my mother would not find out that I’m a rapper, she would be disappointed.”

Despite the controversy, KEKRA has released eleven albums in total, many of which have performed very successfully.

Many of his albums at the beginning of his career were self-released before he signed with the French record label Because Music.

9. PNL

PNL, which stands for Peace N’ Lovés, is comprised of siblings Ademo and N.O.S.

The French duo had a difficult start to life when their father was jailed for bankruptcy and their mother for drug trafficking.

They didn’t let their unfortunate beginning stop them, though!

The brothers first evolved as solo artists before merging in 2014 with their debut studio album, Le Monde Chico.

They have since released three albums, of which two are certified diamonds with over ten million copies sold!

In 2020, PNL had an impressive year for awards when they won the Victoires de la Musique, an annual French award ceremony, for Best Music Video for their song “Au DD.” 

That same year, Deux frères was nominated for album of the year at the IMPALA European Awards, but they, unfortunately, missed out on the prize. Still, a nomination is pretty impressive!

10. MHD

Mohamed Sylla, known as MHD, is an influential French rapper who introduced a new genre of rap to the French hip-hop scene.

He blended trap music with the music of West Africa, coining this innovative genre “Afro trap.”

MHD got off to a strong start, releasing his debut, a self-titled album, in 2016.

It sold over two hundred thousand copies in less than six months, and he soon began receiving international recognition in Guinea, England, Senegal, and Morocco following an international tour.

Unfortunately, things went south for MHD when he was charged with second-degree murder in 2019.

Despite claiming his innocence, he was in custody for eighteen months before his release.

Despite this controversial roadblock, Sylla released a third album in 2021 which performed well.

11. Soprano

Saïd M’Roumbaba, known as Soprano, is a talented French rapper, singer, and songwriter.

He began his journey as part of the rap group Psy 4 de la Rime but soon left the collective to pursue a solo career.

His 2007 debut album Puisqu’il Faut Vivre broke into the Billboard European Top 100, as did many of his following albums.

Despite his solo success, Soprano has continued to work with Psy 4 de la Rime, bringing out two further albums with the group.

In 2019, he was introduced to the Musée Grévin, a wax museum located in Paris.

His wax figurine wears a hat signed by De Bornarel, a Karl Lagerfeld jacket, and Aaron Jah Stone jewelry, a recreation of the outfit he wore at the NRJ Music Awards in 2018.

12. Nekfeu

Ken Samaras, who adopted the stage name Nekfeu, began his career as a member of $-Crew, which was comprised of his childhood friends.

Impressively, he’s also a member of the L’entourage crew and the band 1995!

With these groups, he often participated in open-mic duels around Paris, building up a strong reputation before releasing his debut solo studio album, Feu.

The album won “Best Urban Music Album at the 2016 Victoires de la Musique.

He released his third album, Les Étoiles Vagabondes, in 2019.

It received diamond certification after it premiered in cinemas as a movie accompanied by the album and consolidated Nekfeu’s success as a rapper and actor.

13. Black M

Alpha Diallo, best known as Black M (previously Black Mesrimes), launched himself into the French rap scene in 2014 with the help of his platinum-certified album Les yeux plus gros que le monde.

He is also a member of the Sexion d’Assaut rap group.

The pseudonym Black Mesrimes is a play on words, a mashup of the name of the former public enemy number one, Jacques Mesrine, and the words “rhymes” and “black.”

Black M has received a whopping five awards, including a young talent award,  Best Musical Artist, Best French Act, and two lots of Best Music Video of the Year.

Since 2002, Black M has been showing the world what French rap really means!

14. OrelSan

Aurélien Cotentin, or OrelSan, is one half of the French hip-hop duo Casseurs Flowters.

He’s also an established solo artist, with four platinum-certified studio albums that each broke into the French album chart!

In 2023, OrelSan won three awards at the Victoires de la Musique: Concert of the Year, Original Song of the Year, and Music of the Year.

With his previous accomplishments, this adds up to an impressive twelve awards from the ceremony!

15. Lino

Lino is both a solo artist and a member of the French rap duo Srenik.

Known to his friends and family as Galino M’Bani, Lino is originally from Congo.

His brother Calboni M’Bani, known as “Calbo,” is the second half of the duo.

Ärsenik has released three albums, each of which charted in France, with Requiem charting also in Belgium and Switzerland.

As a solo French rapper, Lino has released two solo albums of his own.

Both of his albums, Paradis assassiné (2015) and Radio Bitume (2012), charted in France and exacerbated his popularity.

16. Gazo

Ibrahima Diakité, known as Gazo, is a French rapper from the suburbs of Paris.

Despite being kicked out by his parents at age twelve and leaving school at age fifteen, Gazo found his talent and joined the Gangster Disciple Nation (GDN) with some friends.

He started off posting his rap videos on YouTube, which garnered the attention of French rapper Gims.

Gims offered him a joint track on his album, and launched Gazo’s career! Many now call him “The Prince of French Drill,” a title he proudly owns.

Gazo identified a brand for French drill music, drawing influence from UK and US drill, and brought French drill onto the scene.

As such an influential French rapper, he’s certainly one to watch.

17. Lacrim

Karim Zenoud, a French rapper of Algerian descent, is better known by his stage name, Lacrim.

Over the course of his career, he has collaborated with various French artists and released many successful albums and singles.

Lacrim has released four studio albums, three of which topped the French charts.

Force & Honneur was perhaps his most successful album, being certified 3x platinum and charting in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.

Despite his popularity as a rapper, Lacrim had some rather controversial events in his lifetime. He was accused of possession of a gun and was incarcerated for three years.

However, after eight months of hiding in Morocco, he was imprisoned again for the second time in three years. He was released in 2016, and he continued to release albums.

18. Da Uzi

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNZYGGwmN3I

Davy Ngoma Di Malonda is a French rapper who goes by the stage name Da Uzi.

His career has been somewhat controversial due to multiple imprisonments, but his rap talent cannot be denied.

Da Uzi has released three studio albums: Architecte, which topped the French charts, and Vrai 2 Vrai and Le Chemin des Braves, which both peaked at number three.

All of his albums performed well in France, Belgium, and Switzerland, widening the scope of French rap.

19. Gims

Gandhi Bilel Djuna started his career as a French rapper with the stage name Maître Gims, but more recently is known simply as Gims.

He’s a former member of the hip-hop group Sexion d’Assaut but also achieved a lot of success as a solo artist.

His first major album, Subliminal, sold over one million copies in Belgium and was thus certified gold, launching his career.

Since then, Gims has released four more albums, which have each been successful.

Ceinture noire was extremely successful, being certified 2x diamond in France and platinum in Belgium.

Gims has won a total of five awards over his career, with an impressive total of twenty nominations!

20. Gringe

Guillaume Tranchant, otherwise known as Gringe, is one half of the duo Casseurs Flowters (along with Orelsan).

Despite his success as part of the duo, much of his success as a French rapper has come from his solo work.

Gringe’s album Enfant lune was certified gold and charted at number twenty in France, number thirteen in Belgium, and number thirty-five in Switzerland.

He has featured on singles with various popular artists and helped to popularize French rap.

Best French Rappers – Final Thoughts

Hopefully, now the task of finding new music to listen to is a little less daunting!

You now know twenty French rappers that are worth putting on your playlist, as well as some of their best albums.

Finding new artists to listen to, and even expanding to new music genres, helps to keep our musical experience fresh and interesting!

We hope you enjoy listening to these French rappers, who are the best of all time.

You may also like: Best Rappers of All Time

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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