The slam poetry scene in France is one of the most unpretentious, lively and innovative facets of the hip hop scene that I have discovered during the year that I have been living here. The performance of one ‘slammer’ in particular struck me the first night I attended a slam session. The complex lyrics and passionate delivery of Mimnerme Le Mot Dit sparked my interest, and I made up my mind to engage him in conversation…
Mimnerme takes his name from a 5th century Greek poet – “a high proportion of his works were melancholy”, he tells me. Mimnerme himself began rapping when the hip hop craze took off in France in the 1980s. The texts were somewhat naïve, he judges in retrospect, but they had “the right spirit” behind them, a freshness and positive energy which are much harder to find today.
Despite his many links to hip hop, Mimnerme has only been performing at slam nights for the past few months. Given his presence and energy on stage, I was stunned by this information! In fact, the density of his lyrics is due to the fast that he has been writing for years, whilst also working in sound, and as a photographer (under the name ‘Le Vagabond’). He explains that it was Nada, a slammer who organizes weekly slams in Paris, who encouraged him to take to the stage, and he has now notched up numerous impressive performances.
He defines slam as “creation with speech” and writes highly personal, introspective texts: “not egocentric, but based on my life, who I am and, for me, perhaps it was a way of trying to find myself. But I also write texts about things that I see which touch me. I’m always in the street… my culture is urban, in the sense that everything is based on what I see. Whether it’s what I write, for photography or for music, even if it might seem a bit strange, my culture is totally based on the visual.”
Mimnerme hopes to discover the slam scene in London in a few weeks time… how does he see the evolution of his career? “For me, life is a question of encounters. The most important thing for me is to evolve personally, so I try to be honest with myself in what I do. It’s important for me to perform on stage as often as possible, to develop further. The next step would be to feature on a record. With someone whose work I respect, and vice versa… I try not to impose career objectives, it’s not something I live from as of yet, but things have really been advancing since January, I’ve met a ton of new people…”
Mimnerme Le Mot Dit is a talented and authentic artist, who never ceases to impress me, and anyone else who sees him perform. Stay tuned… and get in touch! His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
By Rachel Malcolm for Hip Hop Hot Spot . Com