Hollande speeches get rap makeover

François Hollande

French President’s new speech writer also works as a music journalist specialising in ‘gangsta rap’

PRESIDENT François Hollande’s next speech could be one of his most interesting, as his new writer has been unveiled as a specialist in American rap music.

Pierre-Yves Bocquet - aka Pierre Evil - is a successful music journalist and author, specialising in gangsta rap, and steps into the role after the departure of Paul Bernard “for personal reasons”.

Bocquet was tight-lipped about the job, citing “a duty of confidentiality”, but said: “The only person who writes speeches François Hollande is François Hollande. My role is just to ‘prepare’ them.”

He added his work prevents him from "personal and political expression on behalf of the president."

But he is no stranger to the corridors of power. He is a graduate of the prestigious École nationale d'administration - and has been a high-ranking civil servant at the Élysée Palace ever since Hollande was elected, having previously been project manager for social protection.

Under his pseudonym, he has written two books - Gangsta Rap in 2005, and the soon-to-be-published Detroit Sampler.

Colleagues, who described him as “meticulous and methodical” had no idea about his journalist alter ego.

Cyril de Graeve, who was the editor of cultural magazine Chronic'art for four years said: “I remember a quiet man. He worked for us sporadically as a volunteer.”

Journalist and musician Fred Hanak praised Bocquet’s skills as a music critic, but added: “His Achilles’ heel (is) he knows American rap, in particular the highly politicised formations on the west coast, but is completely disinterested in French rap."

Gangsta rap music has been a source of controversy since it first appeared on the music scene as an underground hardcore alternative to hip-hop. Critics often point to its violent, anti-authoritarian lyrics and its links to gang culture in America.

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