TAKEN FROM HIS DEBUT MIXTAPE ‘MELTING BALLOONS’
“…a gorgeously low-key cut” THE FADER
“A nine-track blend of melodies, party themes, and intense raps” DJ BOOTH
Rising French-Cameroonian hip hop artist MIKANO drops grainy phone camera visuals for ‘Fuego’, the bonus track of his recently released debut mixtape ‘Melting Balloons’ .
For the DIY footage Mikano enlists the help of a group of friends wearing masks and director Martin Bouffange to create a street-themed video which perfectly depicts the hardest cut on ‘Melting Balloons’.
Imagination and emotions are at the centre of ‘Melting Balloons’, a body of work which reflects the artist’s creative mind and aesthetic. “A nine-track blend of melodies, party themes, and intense raps”, as defined by DJ Booth in their in-depth interview with Mikano, the mixtape features ‘Silhouette’, which also serves as its first single, a track Mikano wrote like the rest of the mixtape, with the help of his friend and wonderkid Parisian producer Svtvs, mixing a pop-driven afrobeat melody with trap-tinged beats, while his introspective lyrics celebrate the female beauty in all its diversity.
Elsewhere, second single ‘It’s Alright’ – described as “gently UKG-skipping tune” by The Fader in their exclusive video premiere – reveals a different side of the rapper, in Mikano’s own words ‘It’s Alright’ is “a party song about hype girls in clubs looking for that star life. Even though what they’re doing can be frowned upon, who are we to judge? It’s alright, girl do you”.
Halfway through the mixtape, the two-parts ballad ‘When It Rains Glitter’ contemplates the nature of human life, which as Mikano explains is “full of highs and lows, beautiful surprises and deceptions, tears of joys and sadness and this song pictures it well”.
Growing up in cities as diverse as Abu Dhabi, Cairo and Amsterdam, Mikano is the perfect example of a Third Culture Kid whose music has been dramatically influenced by his rootless past. This only added to his fascination with cultural music genres: “There are definitely gains and pains of moving around different countries. I personally feel lucky to have been exposed to different music cultures,” but it wasn’t always easy – he admits, talking about the racial discrimination he and his sister experienced in some places.
“When I settled down in Paris, I began to compose and write, inspired by the music that I experienced at each stage of my life and my travels”, adds the rapper, “singing in English isn’t a commercial choice, is the language I spoke growing up and the one I built my flow on.”
Inspired by artists from different genres such as Agnès Obel, Frank Ocean and Alabama Shakes, Mikano’s first two EPs ‘No Devices Found’ and ‘Blind Man Dreams’, have seen support from some of the most prestigious French music publications including Tsugi and Rolling Stone.
Mikano represents a new wave of French rap, one in which the imagination and aesthetic of Generation Z create a visionary new blend of hip hop, less focused on gritty suburban realism and politics than the old school. With France being the second biggest market for hip-hop, French rappers already shifting more units than their USA counterparts and Paris being last year’s most successful city for the genre, it is time for a French, English speaking rapper to find international success.