This Isn’t About Kanye West

Let’s get right to the awkward introduction: Hi, my name is Thomas Golianopoulos and I’m the new features editor at XXL. Over the past decade, I’ve written for tons of great magazines, some dreadful ones and, unfortunately, a few that are no longer with us. Most importantly though, I was a Contributing Writer for XXL and am now a full-time member of the team.

I really should write about Kanye West today. His new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, is supposed to be pretty incredible. It’s the biggest album of the fall. Twitter is going nuts over it. Everyone. Must. Have. An. Opinion. Too bad I haven’t heard it. For the past 10 days, I’ve been on holiday in Europe and without a reliable Internet connection.

I’m writing this from a McDonald’s in Charles de Gaulle International Airport. I’m tired. I feel gross. I really need a haircut. And I’m distraught that McDonald’s discontinued the Royale with Cheese. It’s now called a Double Cheese. Doesn’t have the same ring to it. Don’t worry, I’ll have an interesting take on Kanye later in the week, but today, I’m going to talk about something that happened during my vacation.

This blog entry isn’t about how hip-hop is popular overseas. (Hip hop is global? Really!?! And Republicans don’t have new ideas besides cutting taxes for rich people? Really!?!) This blog entry is about the rap music I heard last Saturday night at a bar/club in Paris called Favela Chic. You know the spot: Groups of guys can’t get in. The drinks are overpriced and watered down. And the entire joint reeks of sweat and watered down booze. It was totally worth it.

First off, the women were incredible. (In that department: Paris > New York > London. It’s not even close.) But this post is about music. Music. From what I remember, the DJ mixed up hip-hop with classic rock, some 1950’s music, a few Beatles records and French pop. What rap records? Q-Tip, “Let’s Ride,” Nas, “Get Down,” Game, “One Blood,” Dr. Dre, “The Next Episode,” during which, my friend’s friend, an Italian now living in Paris hummed “Tick, tock, tick tock tock, tick tock tock, tick tock tock tock,” Nas, “Revolutionary Warfare,” and the record that got the biggest response of the night, Game’s “Hate It or Love It.”

That’s right: No Jay-Z. No Lil Wayne. No Eminem. No Drake. No Biggie. No 2Pac. No Black Eyed Peas. (Thank God). No Flo Rida (Ditto). There wasn’t even any Yeezy in the Serato. Shocking, right? I was also probably the only person that noticed. I think that’s because here in the States we’re a little programmed, ruined by years of exposure to corporate radio and uninspired club DJ’s.

I was wondering, have any of you guys went to a new club—not just overseas, but even out of town—and been surprised by the DJ’s play list? Do you expect to hear certain records? How important is a good DJ?

But Favela Chic wasn’t my weirdest exposure to hip-hop in Paris. Last Wednesday night, I attended the BNP Paribas Masters—that’s a fairly important tennis tournament. After the great Roger Federer disposed of Richard Gasquet, there was a brief intermission before the next match. And of course, music was pumped over the Public Address system. The record: David McCallum’s “The Edge.” The song Dre sampled for “The Next Episode.” Tick, tock, tick tock tock, tick tock tock, tick tock tock tock…. —Thomas Golianopoulos

  • dude

    white people love old rap

  • Dick B.

    What’s your point?

  • clownigan

    its leaked on the net, honestly, its a must have.

  • bullets

    I HONESTLY DONT CARE ABOUT SOME FOREIGNERS OPINION ABOUT HIPHOP THATS LIKE SOME GUY IN CHINA TELLING ME YAO MING IS BETTER THAN OLAJAWAN !!

  • http://www.emcdl.com EmCDL

    Damn they played Nas ‘Revolutionary Warfare’? I ain’t never been to a club anywhere in the US that play that ish…that song is dope but it doesn’t even sound like something you’d play in a club…

  • Chris

    I hit a club in Berlin about a year ago, and the DJ played “Bullshit” by The Pharcyde, “Ante Up,” and “Break Ya Neck,” by Busta Rhymes, followed by some good reggae. Loved it. It was nice not hearing the same old shit all the time.

  • http://www.bboycult.com Don mcCaine

    The point is that Rap is international, the world ain’t hanging off of what ‘Ye is doing or said or about what Jay bought and did.

    One of them foreign spots could be playing YOUR music if you would expand your minds and horizons.

  • Tre

    I live in Colorado and honestly I stop going into clubs that were your typical “hip hop” club. Cause they was playing the same ol radio techno bullshit you hear on 107.5 (our local station). Most folks bump a lot of underground radio stations here just for the variety.

  • Babyfif

    I’m french and to correct the author of this article we got almost the same songs as in the US in clubs but it depends in which club you go in. DJs are almost as uninspired in France as in the US. And I think hip hop is really global!

  • Anonymous

    “I think that’s because here in the States we’re a little programmed, ruined by years of exposure to corporate radio and uninspired club DJ’s.”

    Nigga speak for yourself you sound like you ain’t heard about mp3′s or internet radio!

  • alderman j

    I DONT LISTEN TO THE RADIO, MY HIP HOP COLLECTIONS IS SO EXTENSIVE, I LISTEN TO ANYTHING FROM BLACK MOON (ENTA DA STAGE) to NEW BOYZ (skinny jeans and a mike) WHENEVER I WANT!!! I DONT NEED SATELITE RADIO TO KEEP ME UP TO DATE, I JUST GO TO THE BEST BUY AND COP WHAT I WANT. ( I GOT IT LIKE THAT)….. and who goes to the CLUB FOR MUSIC, i go to have a couple drinks and pull a couple females. I COULD BE IN A TECNO CLUB, I DONT REALLY CARE WHAT THEY ARE PLAYING!!!

  • REEZY

    Im from Chicago, the DJ’s here always keep it poppin, please. You’re just not at the right joints wherever you’ve been @. If you’re in the Chi make sure you go to EMPIRE LIQUORS on Milwaukee Ave., in Wicker Park. Make sure that it’s a Wednesday night. At the end of your night you’ll be pleased to know one thing: you can now relay to your hometown DJ’s how its really done on the tables. Y’diggg?