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Born in Kinshasa, French hip-hopper Youssoupha is a member of an African music legacy. Son of Congolese rumba forefather Tabu Ley Rochereau, commonly known as "Seigneur Ley," it could be said that Youssoupha was destined for musical greatness. Though very influential, Youssoupha's exposure to his father's musical genius was short-lived. He relocated to Paris at the age of ten to pursue his education. Fueled by his love of literature as a youth, Youssoupha found himself drawn to rap. Thanks to his friends from "Diable Rouge" Youssoupha was able to start recording and performing quickly, making an almost instantaneous impact on the U.S. underground market. His first recordings were duets with a cousin from Belgium, entitled Freres Lumiere. Inspired by his first small tastes of success and the structure of the group Bisso Na Bisso, Youssoupha organized his own hip-hop collective called Bana Kin. Although the group experienced enormous success through France, the time soon came for Youssoupha to take steps toward developing a solo career. The first step came in 2005 with the release of Eternal Recommencement, a release that hit the underground French hip-hop scene like a bomb, including controversial songs like "Apologie de la Rue" and "Anti-Venus." By early 2006 Youssoupha's name was surrounded with buzz. The frenzy only intensified when Youssoupha was invited to open up for Method Man and Redman in Montmarte, followed by an invitation to perform with Busta Rhymes shortly thereafter in Paris. As his popularity grew, so did pressure and demand for a follow-up solo album, which hit shelves in March 2007. A Chaque Frère furthered Youssoupha's reputation as a social commentator and voice of dissent. With his considerable visibility, Youssoupha used the album to leverage pride and strong community identity among blacks in France. He maintains a busy touring schedule and a reputation as one of French hip-hop's foremost poets.
© Evan C. Gutierrez /TiVo
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