“Being the spark that sheds light on La Casté”, we discussed Graya

La Castellane, an underprivileged city emblematic of northern neighborhoods of Marseilles is so far known mainly for two things: Zinédine Zidane, and his lucrative narcotics outlets. In this slump, the music tries to make its way. On this one, the rapper Graya, 28, going out Reincarnation his second album and signed with Believe, a French company specializing in supporting artists and labels, with whom Jul, NLP or even Seth Gueko.

As a rapper, is coming from La Castellane something more to wear?

Yes, we can say that. La Castellane is not only known for its drug trafficking. There are people who have come out of it, Zidane anyway. But it’s true that musically enough little so far. Me, I try to bring this universe but I grew up in a city where it is difficult to get out. There are some, they preferred to get out with easy money. The new generation is too hungry.

How do you explain that?

I believe that few come out because there is not enough light. There are plenty of artists here. But that’s it, all that’s missing is the light and if I can be the spark that puts it on the city… The outside view would also have to change. Good things are happening here. Take the Castelival, the festival brings together 10,000 people in the neighborhood and it’s going well, but the media don’t talk about it. By succeeding in my field, I can help change the image of the neighborhood and I have already succeeded a little in a way. There are young people of the new generation who will say to themselves: “Graya, he succeeded, so I can too”. And they will focus more on the music and less on the deal. It would be a pride.

Does La Castellane lack infrastructure? For example in La Savine, there was the B-Vice studio…

Yes, a studio is missing and I think that will happen over time. There are associations that are trying to develop. Manu [son « manager »] revived the neighborhood soccer team. But you know, if I had to open my studio here, in my city, it would become more of a squat. I’m not sure that’s a good idea. Personally, I will open a studio but in another place, for a new inspiration.

Exactly, your first album and the one that has just been released almost only talk about life in the neighborhood, how do you plan to renew yourself?

Get out of the neighborhood, although I will always come back. Visit beautiful places, travel. My next album I would like to do in Senegal, the country of origin of my family. There are some, they never leave La Castellane. Why do you want to leave when you have everything here? Money downstairs, school, college, the Grand Littoral shopping center… You know Soprano used to sing: “There are guys from the northern districts who have never seen the Old Port”. It’s real.

What are your relations with the other rappers from Marseille, you did featurings with Ninho, SopranoAlonzo, Uzi… How do they perceive you?

In fact, La Castellane is so well known that all the artists, even the great ones, to be able to enter the neighborhood, they will collaborate with you. It’s sad but it’s like that. Just for light. In football, it is known worldwide for Zinédine and for drugs throughout Europe, and even beyond. And the artists know that by coming to clip here, it will give them a lot of street credibility, that’s why they collaborate. Afterwards, there are artists with whom I get along well on a human level and that happens naturally. And others I know it’s just for the notoriety of the neighborhood.

Names ?

(laughs) No.

Has your relationship to the neighborhood changed?

It’s not the same anymore. Finally there has always been respect, but it has gone up in rank. I’m not going to lie to you, I was able to make some dirty money. Now that everything is legal, that has changed. For the little ones who want to get started, they can see that from nothing you can succeed. Look, I’ve been working for fourteen years, I haven’t given up on anything, even on the floor, because I knew that rap was my only way out. Afterwards, you know, when notoriety starts to rise, it’s always a bit complicated. Some see me as the pride of the neighborhood, others die from within.

Rappers, sometimes, build a character, a story. Which one do you want to tell?

Everyone has a story but not everyone tells it. I’m not going to create a character. There are those who tell and those who have done. If I tell stories, everyone will think I’m a liar, so I keep them to myself. Reincarnation, the name of my new album, is a bit like that. I try to make a little moral with things that I lived. But it is also the hope that the neighborhood will change, that the new generation will avoid too easy money.

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“Being the spark that sheds light on La Casté”, we discussed Graya


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