Music, literature, and art have always been the people’s way of expressing their ideas, concerns, or protests in an open or hidden form and spreading it among the population. Today, music also remains an important source and way for the expression of social ideas, and the song La France by Sniper is a confirmation of this fact. This rap-style composition carries criticism of the French government and responds to political events in the state. This paper will analyze the form and context of La France by Sniper, as well as the context of its creation, to highlight its meaning and message to society.
La France by Sniper is an example of music that causes public excitement as it opposes and criticizes the government. One needs to know the history of the song’s creation to understand its content fully, although its main idea is clear and without context. Sniper is a French rap group that has created songs with a political context more than once, which in the early 2000s caused the anger of the French government (Gentleman). Nicolas Sarkozy, in 2003, called the performers racists, anti-Semites and promised to initiate criminal proceedings against them for their “offensive” songs (Gentleman). For this reason, La France was the performers’ response to these accusations, which explains much of the text. For example, “They took our texts and distorted our words / Took them out of context and called us fascists” (Sniper lines 26-27). Another example is the lines about the concert, songs, and fans of the band. Thus, the context of the creation of the lyrics provides a complete understanding of its meaning.
However, the lack of context leaves the text’s main message, which can be perceived as criticism of the government by the opposition or people who do not support the government’s actions. In 2003, Sarkozy adopted a law according to which “insulting the dignity of the republic” is illegal and punishable by imprisonment (Gentleman). Such a law can be a way to prevent the people from expressing their disappointment about the actions of the government while, at the same time, criticizing the actions of those who do it. For this reason, many of the lines of accusations can refer to listeners. For example, “Please understand the meaning of our discourse / Don’t mistake a cry for help with a call for murder” (Sniper lines 44-45). Thus, although the history of the creation of the composition has critical importance for this text, the song can be understood and felt by readers without it.
The literary techniques used by Sniper to create the lyrics also contribute to the reader’s or listener’s understanding of its meaning. First, the songs have an angry tone, and its repetitive chorus has a mood of disappointment, as well as a shadow of hope. Hope is expressed in the last two lines as performers are asked to hear and respond to their requests for help (Sniper). This feature also sets the mood of the lyrics and helps to expand its meaning by revealing that this song is not just an aggressive response and criticism but a call for change.
This tone also maintains the rhythm and shape of the lyrics as it is written for rap, which is generally considered a rather aggressive music genre. In this case, the rhythm is more important than the rhyme, which one may not notice on the first reading, since it creates accents in verses. For example, the words “mosques” or “words” with a different rhythm may not reflect the rhyme (Sniper lines 25-26). However, in this case, these words highlight that the destruction of the mosques in France is the destruction of the culture of migrants. In addition, the verses do not contain a complete story but are a response to certain words of politicians, although the arguments are presented consistently and logically. For example, Sniper says the authorities do not like their words, but they don’t criticize La Marseillaise, which calls for violence. Another example is that politicians call the performers racist, while many of them oppose Islam in France (Sniper). Thus, such a structure of the text allows performers to respond to their opponents consistently and, at the same time, draw the attention of listeners to the problems in the country.
Another feature is also the repetition of the first words in a line to create a sense of the pressure that the accusations had on Sniper. For example, in the second verse, seven lines begin with the word “they” followed by allegations of the performers and their music. At the same time, not only words are repeated in the text, but also ideas that are most important or offensive to the authors. For example, the performers several times mention the fascism and racism of which they are accused, as well as the role of the media in this case, which disseminated and repeated the unjust scrapping of politicians. In this way, the authors manage to draw attention to all sides and their role in the conflict to reveal its meaning to the public.
At the same time, performers use literary devices to convey the meaning of some episodes, although, in general, the message is direct. The first such technique is an allegory, which reveals some of the features of politics. For example, “allergic to color” is used to accuse politicians of racism, the phrases “Hitler’s kids” and the image of the swastika express that the principles of right parties that criticize authors are similar to the ideas of Nazism (Sniper lines 30, 29, 36). Another device is metaphors, which are also used to express dissatisfaction with political ideas. For example, the phrase “What they are chanting is ash-colored” means the fire or destruction that Snipers believe French politicians to be causing (Sniper 22). In addition, the authors use the rhetorical question “Who knows why they hounded us?” (Sniper line 99). This element highlights the pointlessness of accusations against the performers that only expressed ideas through rap. In this way, all these devices form the image of a controlling and unjust political power in the country, and the image of musicians as oppositionists and revealer the truth.
In conclusion, the lyrics of La France by Sniper demonstrate that this composition is not just a popular song, but a demonstration of the public mood. The story behind the song’s lyrics reveals the meaning of many details; however, even without this knowledge, the reader can understand the central message. In addition, a variety of literary devices allow authors to maintain the shape and tone of the verse, as well as to briefly express arguments in their defense and show the problems of political power in the country. Thus, the lyrics of La France by Sniper is an excellent example of art as a mean of society’s concerns and mood expression.
Gentleman, Amelia. “French Rappers in War of Words With Government”. The Guardian, 2003, Web.
Sniper. “La France: The Itinerary of a Polemic”. 2003.