French rappers are known for their unique style, beats, and rhyming skills. Many of these rappers started their careers in the golden age of hip hop, while others are newer and releasing hip hop in the 2020s.
Today, French rappers dominate the charts and are beginning to gain worldwide recognition. If you have yet to listen to French rap, here's your chance. You can check out our list of the best French rappers below.
Hailing from Marseille, France, IAM is a French hip-hop group consisting of Akhenatona, Shurik'n, Kheops, Imhotep, and Kephren.
The group focuses its rhymes on a range of themes, including Africa, Ancient Egypt, and mythology. The songs mix a unique rap style and French beats with Middle Eastern and Egyptian musical influences.
IAM released its first album, De la planete' Mars, in 1991. The group had their first French number-one hit in 2003 with “Revoir un printemps.”
2. MC Solaar
Born in Chad, MC Solaar immigrated to France at an early age and grew up in Saint-Denis.
MC Solaar found success early in his career and released his first single in 1990. “Bouge de la” peaked at 22 on the French charts. From there, MC Solaar releases eight studio albums. He finally hit number one on his third release, Paradisaque.
MC Solaar is regarded as one of the premier rappers in France and is also respected worldwide. He broke into the US markets with a collaboration with Missy Elliot on her track “All N My Grill.”
3. Supreme NTM
Comprised of rappers Joey Starr and Kool Shen, Supreme NTM is a French hip-hop group based in Seine-Saint-Denis.
NTM is known for its politically charged lyrics that fight against police brutality, racism, and youth violence. Their songs help to represent the minorities and underprivileged groups in France.
Both rappers offer a unique rhyming style that enhances the other's style. Joey Starr uses a slow-rhyming style accented by his deep, booming voice. Meanwhile, Kool Shen's lyrics provide a funky groove with witty and melancholic tones.
Booba started his career as a break dancer in the early 1990s. In 2000, Booba joined with his friend, Ali, and formed the duo, Lunatic. Their first album was critically acclaimed, but they decided to part ways.
Booba went on to a successful solo career and has sold over ten million records. His debut album, Temps mort, peaked at number two on the French charts. He finally hit number one with his third album, Quest Side. As the most downloaded French artist, Booba pushes boundaries in the hip-hop scene.
Boob was inspired by many New York rappers, including the Wu-Tang clan and Mobb Deep. His lyrics often combat contemporary issues, including racism, individual freedom, taxation, and violence.
5. Oxmo Puccino
Oxmo Puccino is a French-Malian rapper. As a young rapper, Puccino joined the hip-hop collective Time Bomb. Here, he worked with other famous French rappers, Booba and Diam's.
Known for his complex vocabulary and ingenuity, Oxmo Pucciono creates beautiful poetry with the violence associated with street life in Paris.
After his debut release in 1996, Oxmo Puccino released several mixtapes before finding commercial success in 1998 with Opera Puccino. This album peaked at number seven. Puccino has since released nine studio albums and two live albums.
6. Doc Gyneco
Born in Clichy-sous-Bois, Doc Gyneco moved to Paris, France, at an early age. At 19, Gyneco joined the rap group Ministere AMER.
Doc Gyneco uses a mix of ragga and rap in his songs. Many of his songs use sexual and provocative lyrics along with promoting drug use. He also covers other complex and controversial topics like racism, drug abuse, and poverty.
Doc Gyneco released seven studio albums and three compilations over his career.
Nekfeu is a French rapper born in La Trinite. He moved to Paris at the age of 11.
He released two extended plays in 1995 to critical acclaim. Nekfeu released his first studio album, Feu, in 2015. This album was a big hit for Nekfeu, and he won Best Urban Music Album at the Victoires de la music awards.
Nekfeu continues his success, and every album he releases has been certified diamond. His latest album release, Les etoiles vagabondes, topped the French charts in 2019.
Disiz grew up listening to French rap legends like NTM and IAM. Rapper Joey Starr found Disiz after listening to a mixtape he received.
Since his humble beginnings, Disiz has been a major player in the French hip-hop scene. His first album, Le poisson rouge, reached number five on the French Billboard charts. He continues to release music and recently released his 12th studio album in 2022.
The latest album, L'Amour, includes Disiz's first number-one single, “Rencontre.”
Born in Madagascar, Rohff's family moved to Paris in 1985. He started rapping at an early age and had his first album released in 1994 while working on Premiere Classe with rappers Neg'MArrons, Mystik, and Pit Baccardi.
In 1999, Rohff was ready to release his first solo album. The album had some commercial success. Rohff's second album propelled the artist to stardom in France. His next few albums were smash hits and reached the top ten on the French Charts. Three platinum records and four gold records prove that Rohff is one of the best French rappers alive.
Niro is a Moroccan-born rapper raised in Blois, France. The rapper started his career in 2007 after releasing the album Niroshima III. After several collaborations with other famous French rappers, Niro released his first single, “70 Kg,” in 2011
In 2012, Niro released his first album and found some success on the French charts. It wasn't until his second album, Reeducation, that Niro broke through to mainstream French charts. Written while incarcerated for five months, the album speaks of his legal troubles and how he dealt with the problems.
His biggest album, Mens rea, peaked at number four on the French charts in 2018.
Diam's is one of France's most famous female rappers. Born in Nicosia, Diam's grew up in Paris.
Diam's joined the rap group Mafia Tres in 1997. The group had one release during its run. Diam's went on to release her first solo album in 1999. She wouldn't find commercial success until after the release of “Suzy.” The song found viral success and helped Diam's sign a record deal with EMI.
Her third album brought Diam's into the spotlight. Dans ma bulle and S.O.S both reached number one on the French album charts. Both albums were commercial and critical successes.
Since 2012, Diam's is officially retired from the music industry.
If you're looking for the rapper who sold the most records, no one can beat Jul. This French rapper sold over four million albums in his short career.
Jul released his first album, Dans ma paranoia, in 2014. It was a major success and reached number seven on the French album charts. Since his first release, Jul continues to release a staggering two to three albums yearly.
Most of his album releases peak at number one, and Jul finally received his first number-one single in 2018 with “Toto et Ninetta.”
Born in Zaire, Damso and his family fled their home country during The Second Congo War. Damso found his love of music while studying at secondary school. He began spending time in recording studios and learning to rap. During this time, he encountered racism and poverty that caused hardships in his life.
In 2006, Damso joined the rap collective OPG. The group released several mixtapes and tracks to critical success throughout the 2000s. Damso didn't find commercial success until his first solo release.
In 2016, Batterie faible went double platinum and reached number eight on the French charts. Since then, all of Damso's albums have been certified platinum and above. His albums are also successful in Belgium, where three of his albums reached number one on the Belgium album charts.
Niska is a French rapper from Evry, Essonne. He began his rapping career alongside the group Negro Deep. While the group had some success, Niska would go on to a popular solo career.
He released his first album, Charo Life, in 2015. The album was a major hit and peaked at number three on the French charts. Since his first success, Niska has released four successful albums. Commando and Mr Sal both peaked at number one in France.
Niska is also popular in Belgium and reached number one in 2019 with the release of Mr Sal.
Sofiane is a French rapper from Saint-Denis. He began his career by releasing four independent albums along with a series of music videos. Gaining millions of views on YouTube, the videos helped spark his career. The rapper signed with Capital Records in 2016.
In 2017, Sofiane released his first studio album, Badnit salete. The album reached number one in France and was certified platinum. He's since released two other albums that both reached number one in France.
Lacrim' is a French rapper from Menilimontant, Paris. He began his career collaborating with other local rappers and released a street mixtape, Faites entrer Lacrim, in 2012. The album was critically acclaimed and helped Lacrim' sign to a major label.
His first three studio albums each peaked at number one on the French charts. During this time, Lacrim' continued to release mixtapes as well, and two topped the charts in France.
Lacrim faced legal troubles in the 2000s after being arrested with a Kalashnikov gun. The rapper was sentenced to three years of imprisonment, but he fled to Morocco. In 2015, Lacrim turned himself in and spent one year in prison for the crime.
SCH is a rapper from Marseille. He began his career writing songs and rapping by the age of 13. He released his first music independently and on the Skyblog site as the artist Schneider.
After changing his name to SCH, the rapper released his first mixtape, A7, in 2015. After two successful mixtapes, SCH released his first album to critical and commercial success. Anarchie reached number two on the French charts. His second release, Deo Favente, peaked at number one in France and two in Belgium.
SCH continues to release albums and hit number one again after releasing Autobahn in 2022.
18. La Fouine
La Fouine is a French rapper born and raised in Trappes. He grew up in a poor community and found an escape through hip-hop. La Fouine began to find success in rap at the age of 15.
He started his career as a member of the group GSP. He spent time in the group FORS and won second prize at the 2 R puissance Art in La Verriere.
La Fouine found success after releasing his street tape, Planete Trappes. The tape was a critical success and helped spark his career.
In 2009, La Fouine broke through to the mainstream with the release of Mes Reperes. The album was certified platinum and peaked at number two on the French charts. He has since hit the top of the French charts twice with LaFouine vs Laouni and Droie de parcours.
19. Kery James
Kerry James found success at an early age. Growing up in Orly, MC Solaar noticed Kerry James when he was ten years old. By 13, James joined the rap group Ideal Junior (Ideal J).
With the group, James released an album in 1996 that was critically acclaimed. In 2001, James released his first solo album, Y'a pas d'couleur. The album went gold and peaked at number five on the French Billboard charts.
James hasn't slowed down since. He's released nine studio albums over his career. In 2009, the album Reel reached number one on the French charts and went platinum.
Born and raised in Marseille, France, Alonzo is a popular French rapper. He began his career alongside other French rappers in the group Psy 4 de la Rime. The group was incredibly successful and recorded four studio albums that broke through the top ten on the French charts.
While in the group, Alonzo also had a successful solo rap career. He released his first solo album in 2009 and has had a string of chart-topping albums. His biggest album, Reglement de comptes, peaked at number two on the French charts in 2015.
Alonzo finally scored his first number-one single in 2022 with the track “Tout va bien.”
Gradur is a French rapper from Roubaix, Hauts-de-France. Thanks to success on Youtube and streaming sites, Gradur quickly gained popularity and recognition in the French hip-hop scene.
Gradur began his career with the rap group 59. He since went on to create the ground Sheguey Squad. The group released a Congolese lingo mixtape in 2015 to critical success. This helped him sign to a major label and release his first studio album, L'homme au bob, in 2015.
The album was a success and reached number one on the French charts. The album includes collaborations with major artists, including Migos, Chief Keef, and Alonzo.
Top French Rappers, Final Thoughts
These French rappers offer unique styles, conscious lyrics, and exciting beats. Each has its own style that you'll love. There are so many French rappers we couldn't add them all to this list. Did we miss your favorite French rapper? We'd love to hear more about your favorite French rapper.