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Reading: The Death of French Socialism: Abd al Malik’s 'Occupy Wall Street' Poetical Rap

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Research article

The Death of French Socialism: Abd al Malik’s 'Occupy Wall Street' Poetical Rap

Author:

David Spieser-Landes

University of North Carolina Wilmington, US
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Abstract

Abd al Malik is an important public figure in contemporary France whose multifaceted art as a rapper, poet, novelist and filmmaker keeps urging the French nation to be more cohesive in the face of current challenges such as integration and terrorism. This article takes stock of the unequal distribution of wealth between different socio-geographical groups as a fundamental cause of postcolonial discontent and examines the polymorphic treatment of money as a topic in Abd al Malik’s poetry, rap lyrics, as well as in connection with other genres such as autobiography and film. In a particular sociopolitical climate marked by an association between crime and immigration in Front National rhetoric, I analyse how Abd al Malik strives to de-essentialise the immigrant through a complete exposure of his own personal life, recounting in full detail his religious journey from superficial Christianity to radical Islam to Sufism—and his concomitantly evolving relationships with money. Additionally, this article aims at scrutinising the interesting paradox that, on the one hand, Abd al Malik’s writings draw upon anti-capitalist thinkers and movements such as Alain Badiou and les indignés/OccupyWall Street, while on the other hand, he advocates in favour of adapting into the French context a form of philanthropy usually akin to a North American, capitalist model of society. I show how at the heart of this paradox lies the centrality of religion added to a firm belief in reconceptualised French values, which has led Abd al Malik to actively promote a form of spiritualité laïque [secular spirituality] à la française.
How to Cite: Spieser-Landes, D. “The Death of French Socialism: Abd al Malik’s 'Occupy Wall Street' Poetical Rap”. New Readings, vol. 16, 2016, pp. 60–77. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/newreadings.26
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Published on 01 Jan 2016.
Peer Reviewed

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