Ever dreamed of quoting a French protest song in the middle of a heated, high-brow debate? The University of Manchester — in a city that has always been forward-thinking, especially when on the music front — now offers a course called "Protest Music in France".
Every week, students will focus on three French artists: songwriter George Brassens, Parisian dandy Serge Gainsbourg and hip hop group NTM.
"This course examines different expressions of protest in French popular music from the 1950s onwards .... After introductory sessions on popular music theory and the implications of protest in contemporary French culture, the course locates each artist, their discourse and their music output, in a specific historical, political, economic, social and racial context," the description explains.
NTM is the rap duo Joey Starr and Kool Shen, one of the most prominent groups in French hip hop history. They were part of the late 1980s wave that brought underground hip hop to light in France.
Joey Starr and Kool Shen remain best known for describing the rough life in the Parisian outskirts, known as the banlieue. Their song "Police," from their flagship album 1993… J'appuie sur la gâchette ("1993... I'm pulling the trigger"), which openly accuses French police forces of brutality, is representative of their strong committment to such concerns in their early years.