Miles Marshall Lewis is our man in Paris and your guide to the city’s Muslim hip-hop scene. The American expat grew up in the Bronx at the same time the city was crumbling and hip-hop was exploding. He currently writes about pop culture, music and more and is the author of ‘Scars of the Soul Are Why Kids Wear Bandages When They Don’t Have Bruises‘ and ‘There’s a Riot Goin’ On,’ a guide to the Sly and the Family Stone album from the epic 33 1/3 series. Today, he shares with us his Paris travel tips, plus his favorite under-rated artist. Want more Miles? Then stay tuned this week for his hip-hop essentials.
Home base: Paris, France
Day job: Editor
Last show you saw live? Lil Wayne at Le Zénith (32, Rue de Rivoli, Paris; +33 1 48 87 00 09)
Museyon Guides: You’re from New York, the birthplace of hip-hop. How does French hip-hop compare with the genre’s New York roots?
Miles Marshall Lewis: Hip-hop in France is comparable to where American hip-hop was in the early 1990s. Commercial considerations have crept in and begun to distort the purity of the culture. Still, there is a strong contingent of true hip-hop lovers here that supports elements of the culture outside of just rapping (i.e., deejaying, graffiti art, B-boying).
MG: Where’s the best place to see a live show?
MML: Both the Élysée Montmartre (72, boulevard de Rochechouart 75018 Paris; +33 01 44 92 45 36) and l’Olympia (18, Rue de Caumartin, Paris; +33 8 92 68 33 68) are wonderful venues to see live shows.
MG: Any particularly memorable shows?
MML: Kanye West played Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy Stadium (9, boulevard de Bercy, Paris) for his 2008 Glow in the Dark Tour, with The Roots as an opening act. Kanye hosted a great little intimate champagne party backstage afterwards.
MG: What’s your idea of one perfect night out in Paris?
MML: A perfect night in Paris would have to involve getting a great view of the city and eating some fabulous food. The Basilique du Sacré-Cœur (35, rue du Chevalier-de-la-Barre, Paris; +33 1 53 41 89 00), the top floor of the Pompidou Centre (Place Georges Pompidou, Paris;+33 1 44 78 12 33) or the second level of the Eiffel Tower (Champs de Mars, Paris; +33 1 44 11 23 23) are all great places to see Paris in full. For wining and dining, go ethnic with Senegalese food at Le Petit Dakar (6, Rue Elzévir, Paris; +33 1 44 59 34 74) or Moroccan cuisine at Le Comptoir Marrakech (22, Rue de Châteaudun, Paris; +33 1 48 78 15 52).
MG: How do you find new music?
MML: I surf the Internet regularly (MTV News, theNew York Times, NME.com, Twitter) for music information in general, and I often get turned onto new stuff. Word of mouth is also essential. Hanging at the Parisian apartment of the poet Saul Williams, I fell in love with The Dead Weather’s Horehound album.
MG: Is there an artist, album or venue that you wish more people knew about?
MML: Tricky is an artist out of England who layers rich, dark rock and pop music with hiphop textures. He hit a creative peak in the late 1990s. But his cover versions of rap songs like Rakim’s “Lyrics of Fury,” Public Enemy’s “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” and Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story” are all excellent and super-innovative.
MG: Outside of Paris, are there other music scenes that you’d like to see Museyon visit?
MML: I love neo-soul, the 1990s-born strain of American soul music exemplified by Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, Bilal, The Roots, Jill Scott and Angie Stone. The Afro-Punk movement is another music scene gaining tremendous importance in America right now. Whatever Museyon could do on these music scenes could be fantastic.
Get more on Miles Marshall Lewis in Music+Travel Worldwide, or on his blog Furthermucker.com. You can also follow his musings on music and more at twitter.com/furthamucka. And be sure to stay tuned for Hip-hop 101: An Introductory Guide by Miles Marshall Lewis at museyon.com.