They decline all interview requests and have carved out a truly independent career that follows their own rules.
Their rare onstage appearances set off mad frenzies, and their album releases are real events that break all records. Their sleek videos, filmed all over the world (Japan, Iceland, Italy, USA), have millions of views on YouTube. So how do you explain the PNL phenomenon? These two brothers from the Tarterêts neighbourhood of Corbeil-Essonnes have reshaped the rules of rap in their own image. Taking a slowed-down tempo, their soaring ‘cloud rap’ chronicles the existential void alongside fluffy beats and auto-tuned vocals. Perhaps onstage we can unlock the secrets of this enigma without parallel in the world of French rap.
And yet, yet … NLP is not rap. Or rather, it’s not just rap. It’s actually much more than that, and believe it or not, the duo’s discography even brings them closer to pop, and rock. And we have arguments. Full.
If rock is to break the frames, move the lines, and well PNL, as of 2011, affirms an identity in sharp shift with the majority of the French rap of his time, combining vaporous instrument and neighborhood spleen, under strong American influence . They are Pop because they manage their images like pop stars: kings com ‘shots, NLP is also a strong imagery, based on ultra-licked clips taking the two stars and their melancholy to the four corners of the world. PNL is a pop duo because they systematize an autotuned, hypnotic and heady song. They accentuated this rap / singing trend in France. And then, let’s not lie, PNL fills its Bercy in easy mode: rap is pop music in France. Pop as popular. And Pop because Pop Culture: DBZ, Aladdin, The Lion King …
But let’s go further. And let’s say it: PNL is blues. This is the blues of dealers condemned to their situation. They are a little more fragile, they admit their wounds, their sorrows. They are more sensitive than average. It’s a bit of a parallel to Drake’s money blues. PNL is the rap of a dealer burn out. And melancholy is always a little lyrical, and lyricism is often very pop.
Laurent-David Samama is a culture journalist for the JDD. For him, “in many respects PNL belongs more to the field of Pop than Rap. Because, finally, their words take second place. What matters with the duo Corbeil-Essonnes is the prod – in this case well licked – and the image – clips resembling short films or even pubs for distant destinations. Roughly all except the usual aesthetics clips to the ghetto aesthetic of French rap. This constant concern for the neat form is one of the basic elements of popular music. PNL is thus a hybrid, raw words, a dark reality clad on air and melodious beats. And lastly, there is this way for PNL to break the declaiming rapper’s code. Here, as in Pop, we sing, we allow ourselves some effects, there is the use, even the abuse, of auto-tune. The stroke of genius of the duo, so it is not to singer the other rappers but to emancipate themselves from the codes of French rap. Their horizon is vast. It is, as they say “the world or nothing”. Inspired by the heavyweights of entertainment, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Daft Punk or Bowie, PNL has opened wide the doors of international festivals. And since they open wide the borders of French rap, it is not surprising at all to see them this year at Rock en Seine.
We summarize: Pop because they break frames. Pop because they move the lines. Pop by their vaporous, melancholic, almost romantic instruments. Pop because they manage their image like pop stars. Pop because popular. Pop because already deeply rooted in world pop culture.
PNL, more pop than it looks? Yes, obviously.
PNL, and many others, will be present at Rock en Seine, on the 24th, 25th and 26th of August at the gates of Paris!