Taïro, a reggae in tune with the times and always militant
Taïro is a regular at the Olympia in Paris. Anyone who considers himself a reggae craftsman fills this mythical room with each record release. This will be the case on March 25. His latest album, 360, was released in two parts, the first on October 7, 2022 and the second on March 3. Recorded during confinement, the twenty-six pieces renew, under his pen, his reggae in French. French reggae, it was also the name of his previous album, in 2016, which was intended to conform to the codes of classic reggae with a live band. This album is imbued with all the musical influences of Taïro, from song to Afro-beat, including rap.
Sitting in a Parisian café, long dreadlocks tied in a bun, Taïro, 45, whose real name is Ismaël Jolé-Ménébhi, practices self-criticism: ” With French reggae, I made a typical reggae album that pulled me more towards the sound of the 1980s than the sound of 2030. With 360, I wanted to get back in tune with the times, to catch up with the urban wagons. » Rasta is, in fact, one of those artists who experienced, at the end of the 1990s, the golden age of French rap and reggae. A period when artists collaborated – the groups NTM and Raggasonic for Sharp as a blade (1995), IAM and Nuttea for The 25e Picture (1993)… Himself, Taïro, went on tour with the pioneering group Assassin.
It is besides Akhenaton, of IAM, which allowed him to know his first big tube, Millennium, with the short-lived group One Shot, created for the film’s soundtrack Taxi 2 (Gerard Krawczyk, 2000). Rap and reggae, the two musical genres then enjoyed the same success: Pierpoljak, Princess Erika on the one hand; Doc Gyneco, Diam’s on the other.
“With others, I try to bring reggae up to date, to embody it in a modern, fresh and sexy way” – Taïro
But the paths have separated: “Today, the big difference, Tairo analysis, it’s that current rap and that of the 1990s no longer have the same face. While 1990s reggae and 2020s reggae are still very much alike. I don’t know if it’s because our music is so typical that it’s no longer possible to move from it. The Major Lazer Group (led by American Diplo) had, however, refreshed her a little. With others, I also try to bring it up to date, to embody it in a modern, fresh and sexy way. That’s what rap has managed to do. » No wonder then he invites on his 360 Part 2 new generation rappers, S.Pri Noir and Still Fresh. Taïro does not deny his sound system comrades, however, such as Yaniss Odua and the Reunionnais Pix’L. He also signs with his young half-brother Baal a classic and catchy If you want to play.
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