From “undocumented” to a tube machine: at the age of 32, the Algerian artist Soolking plays with the limits of the different musical universes, in the image of the cover of his 3rd album “Sans Visa”, a green passport of nationality “international”.
The most listened to francophone artist in the world with Aya Nakamura, Soolking, who sings in French and Algerian Arabic, shares with the performer of “Djadja” the refusal to be locked up, geographically or musically.
“My music doesn’t really belong nationally. My music is a mix of a lot of cultures, a lot of styles that I’ve listened to,” he told AFP.
Through his duets with Kendji Girac or the Turkish singer Reynmen, through the single “Suavemente”, the artist likes to enrich his creations with his multiple inspirations, mixing hip-hop, rai, pop, stadium music and Latin sounds, Eastern or Balkan.
“It’s fun to try full of delusions, full of different rhythms,” says Soolking, whose artist name is inspired by a character from the hit manga “One Piece,” one of his great passions. .
“At the beginning of my career, I kind of had this complex, I couldn’t get into a little daring stuff. But when there’s success behind it, it’s the confirmation that I wasn’t wrong.” , he adds.
A winning recipe that has allowed him to become since “Guerrilla”, his freestyle (humor / improvisation ticket, in rap) in the show “Planet Rap” having revealed to the world in 2018, a tube machine already with two platinum certified albums.
Examples on its counter: The title “Dalida” has risen to sixth place in the world top on Deezer, while “Meleğim” and “Zemër” have so far accumulated almost one billion views on YouTube.
– “Harraga” –
Beyond the festive sounds and musical richness, his third opus “Sans Visa” refers in almost every title to the life of the “harraga” (literally “the burners”), nicknamed the illegal migrants from the Maghreb who try to to reach Europe by sea, for want of a future.
As an echo to his own story.
Born in Algeria, Abderraouf Derradji, his real name, grew up in the suburbs of Algiers, where he developed his dance and music practice very quickly, despite the difficult context of the Black Decade (1991-2002).
If he did not cross the Mediterranean by boat, the artist came to an “irregular” situation in France, where he lived “the life of + harraga +” for a few years.
“After that, I was successful in music and in regularizing my situation, but that’s my experience,” he says modestly.
“I know a lot of people who came undocumented to Europe and today (have succeeded)! These are important, cultured people who bring good to France, and at the same time to their country of origin.” he said.
“We all have this dream of leaving, I left too. But it’s a suicide to leave that way,” he warns. “In the end, no one is going to cry for you except your mom and loved ones.” “Someone had to tell their story,” he insists.
– “Lots to offer” –
Prior to his first Olympia in October, Soolking took a new step this spring with a North American tour, which took him from Montreal to Washington via Chicago and New York.
Yet another sign, like the cardboard of the “Disco Maghreb” clips of DJ Snake or “Territory” of the electro group The Blaze, that it is possible to export the Algerian aesthetic on all continents even “to Macao “?
“Algeria doesn’t just have the rai to offer the world. Khaled and Cheb Mami have brought it to the forefront of the world, but we have a lot more styles, crazy rhythms to offer,” he said. Soolking.
“I always try to bring this little Algerian thing to make this originality known to the world,” he said. “I think it’s a strength.”