Who the hell is Stromae?! Why does he have over 500 million youtube views?! Why did the Prime Minister of Belgian give President Obama one of his CDs as a gift? Why haven’t we heard of Europe’s newest import? With his eyes firmly set on invading U.S. shores, the Belgian EDM/Hip Hop performer is poise for intercontinental takeover.
6 days ago, Stromae release the video for Carmen, the sixth single off his sophomore album, Racine Carrée. Directed by acclaimed French animator Sylvain Chomet, the video depicts a young, Twitter obsess Stromae and his descent into the belly of a blue behemoth bird. Less than a week and the video already reach 3 million views on YouTube.
Stromae’s who real name is Paul Van Haver, was born in Belgium to Rwandan father and a Flemish mother. Stromae’s music celebrates his diverse roots but admits he never had a personal connection with his father, who left his family in Belgium to live in Rwanda where he was later killed in the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. In the video for “Papaoutai”, which means “Dad where are you”, Stromae sings about his absentee father in a video that unfolds like a children story. In the video, a young boy yearns for a “father and son relationship” with his mannequin father, played by Stromae. Papaoutai became the #1 song in France and Belgium and has surpassed over 240 million views on youtube.
On his second album Racine Carrée, which means square root, Stromae wanted to explore the music that influence his childhood. In a recent interview with PRI, Stromae express this thought, saying
“Africa is a big influence for me, but only through the European vision, of course”…”It was important for me to talk about those roots that I have, and it’s so obvious to mix all those influences: hip-hop music, French folk music, African music, Congolese Rumba. So that’s different kind of music that I wanted to mix together.”
This sentiment is fully express on Ave Cesaria, an ode to Cape Verde’s “Barefoot Diva” Cesaria Evora. The music video, shot in one long continuous shot, depicts a family party with a live band where the camera is constantly exchanging hands from elders to youngsters of racially mix family.
With a chart topping album in 5 different countries, half a billion views on youtube and on his second North American tour, Stromae takeover in America should be watch very closely by the Afro Beat community. Because his music is highly danceable blend of EDM and Hip Hop with expansive lyrics influence by his African and Latin roots, but its sung completely in French. Claiming he doesn’t want to lose the sincerity in his music by dubbing it into English. In a interview with Elle.com he speaks on the pressure to sing in English but explains why he feels his music can crossover into the States,
It’s a special feeling because people used to say, “No, it’s not possible because you don’t sing in English,” so of course, it’s like a double pressure. I know that it’s going to be difficult, but not impossible. We are all human and we are all able to listen to music that we cannot understand. I used to listen to English music like Notorious B.I.G. and I didn’t know what he’s talking about in all of his tracks, but I’m a fan. It’s rhythm and a groove that makes me dance so I’m convinced that my music can work in the U.S.
The 30 year old Stromae was never inspired to sing for non-French speakers, but once his first hit Alors on Danse, became a huge hit in Germany and the rest of East Europe he realized there are no musical boundary and only one thing matter and which is the beat. For up to date tour schedules check out Ticketmaster/StromaeTour.