For his seventh album, Chapitre 7, French rap icon MC Solaar traveled to New York City and proceeded to record an adventurous album. Almost immediately on Chapitre 7, Solaar signals his desire to veer far from the French rap norm: a distorted electric guitar rips away during the opening seconds of the first song, "Carpe Diem"; the next song, "Paris-Samba," is a full-on samba workout en français with a steadily grooving backbeat; the next song, "Clic Clic," is a reggae exercise; and then comes "Da Vinci Claude," a maze-like song that kicks into rock gear after a half-minute. The remainder of the album is no less adventurous, though it's admittedly more in line with the style of sophisticated jazz-rap with which Solaar made his name during the 1990s. Producers Eric K-Roz and Alain J helm Chapitre 7 in tandem, and despite the freewheeling stylistic experiments that characterize the opening tracks, they give each song a similar feel that helps the album sound of a piece. Overall, Chapitre 7 is a showcase for Solaar and his production duo; only a few songs feature guest vocalists, namely Bambi Cruz ("Si on T'Demande"), Black Jack ("Sous les Palmiers"), and Issara ("Ben, Oui!"). Given Solaar's accomplished career to date, Chapitre 7 will likely be met with high expectations, especially by those acquainted with his earlier, much-celebrated work in the 1990s. Though not a classic album on a par with his past work, let alone a latter-day masterwork, Chapitre 7 is nonetheless an impressive accomplishment for Solaar. He sounds fearless here, eager to explore new styles and break free of expectations, even if the adventurousness and experimentation of Chapitre 7 might alienate those looking for a more traditional style of French rap from Solaar, or perhaps a return to the jazz-rap of his early work. At 18 tracks, each unique in its own way, Chapitre 7 is long, complex, and sometimes difficult. But it's rarely dull, at times curious, and overall a worthwhile investigation for anyone fond of Solaar or drawn to the fringes of French rap.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
feat: Bambi Cruz
feat: Black Jack