La Cedille
Vu Du Large

Afro-French hip hop outfit La Cedille's debut communicates a devoted belief in music and language.

By Benjamin Lehmann

There is much to say about La Cedille aside from the fact that they rap in French. But this seems an appropriate place to start. The idea of an English, Huddersfield-based label (Chocolate Fireguard Recordings in this instance) putting out a musically challenging album spoken in a foreign language cannot but raise eyebrows. Between this, the popularity of urban French act TTC, and Arsene Wenger dining with the Queen at Buckingham Palace there is substantial evidence that French culture currently signifies more to us than a baguette and ‘listen carefully, I shall say this only once’. Surprisingly then, Vu Du Large does not represent the Euro-crunk-grime sound which has united Paris and London this year, but a more familiar blend of souljazz instrumentals and meditating lyrical delivery of 90s French hip hop circa La Haine.

Lyrically La Cedille tread fairly familiar ground, musing over the relative merits of the media, politics, flow, l’herbe from an Afro-French point of view. Tracks like Dissident D’ici showcase a range of accents and dialects, reflecting a liberal and multi-cultural message. There are some moments of great clarity, such as on Dyslexie which addresses the importance of expression and reflection in a dyslexic world. Given the pidgin French enjoyed by most of us, the flow and counterpoint of the verses are sufficiently exciting to compensate for hit and miss translation. Musically, the album is based on drums, bass, guitar and horns, with keys, and more unlikely instruments like harp and cello, featuring intermittently. The Cedille sound is best represented on Harmonie, which adds Christine Bulle on harp alongside Aurelius’ blues guitar and Florent’s expertly bowed cello. Like many of the tracks on the album, it’s an addictive piece which demands repeated listens, building broken beats into a Matmos-esque string section. the orchestral chaos and mad, broken rimshots of Escroquerie express the modern dischordant energy of Banlieux as if recounted live by a big band, whilst tracks like La Chien take a more familiar guitar-lead jazz hip hop direction in the jazzmatazz style. Chocolate Fireguard vocalist Rachel Modest contributes a new-souljazz touch to Hume in the style of Eska or Jill Scott. Throughout the production is transparent and highly musical.

“Sentimentalisme hardcore”, is the phrase that best explains La Cedille, a devoted belief in music and language which becomes apparent as you listen again and again to their work. Amongst the style-conscious genre exercises which currently adorn the hip hop racks Vu Du Large succeeds in communicating more in a foreign language than the sum of its English-spoken counterparts. a modern classic in the making.
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