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The story of PNL the French Kings of Rap

A tale of Drugs, Politics, Scampia, the new album, and standing atop the Eiffel tower in Virgil Abloh designed jackets

The story of PNL the French Kings of Rap A tale of Drugs, Politics, Scampia, the new album, and standing atop the Eiffel tower in Virgil Abloh designed jackets
Photo credit: Fader

After the impressive video for 'Au DD' that slightly broke the internet a couple of weeks ago, today sees the release of the new album 'Deux Frères' from French cloud rap dons, PNL. In case you hadn’t quite caught their successful wave over the last few years, we thought today was a great opportunity to tell their story. 

French hip-hop has long been a phenomenon of noteworthy quality and in recent years a duo consisting of two brothers has risen up above the rest. PNL, standing for Peace N' Lovés is made up of Tarik and Nabil Andrieu who grew up in the neighborhood of Les Tarterêts in Corbeil-Essonnes and their well produced, laid back, cloud rap sound has in the span of just a few years taken France and now the world by storm. 

Photo credit: Fader
The two brothers past lives reads as a true, all be it despairing, hip-hop saga. Their mother, a native of Algeria, was absent in the brothers lives and their father, René Andrieu a Pied-Noir native of Corsica, was a political activist, but also involved in drug trafficking, took part in a bank robbery and ended up serving an eight years sentence at the Maison centrale, which is the designation of prisons for dangerous and/or long sentence detainees in France. 
The story of PNL starts in 2008 when older brother Tarik released his first mixtape under “Le son des Hall vol. 1” under the name of Ademo to be followed up with Vol. 2 in 2011. The beats were much rougher than what would later become their signature sound and the project halted when Tarik himself was sentenced to several months in prison for drug dealing. The brothers linked up after the prison stretch to release their first collaborative effort under the name N.O.S whilst using the pseudonyms Calmement and Ladif. The mixtape '365 Jours pour percer' does create some ripples through the underground but the two brothers do not get great visibility and are still almost unknown nationally. Going back into the studio to hone their craft the duo emerged as PNL in 2014 with a significant evolution of their sound and style.

In March of 2015 they release their first PNL mixtape Que La Famille, followed up by the video for Le Monde ou Rien (the world or nothing) which is also the first time they show up on the radar for some Italians as the video was shot in the infamous housing blocks of Scampia in Napoli, known for their Gomorra mafia criminal activities and not just a place you casually stroll into to shoot a music video. After an interesting set of social circumstances come into effect that catapults the two brother's notoriety vastly forward. 

France’s colonial past has long led to a deep melting pot of culturally diverse influences simmering through the many layers of French society. One need only look at the squad of last years French World Cup champions to see a shining example of this, though as is all too often the unfortunate case the backside of that trophy reflected a French society ripe with segregation and political turmoil. Proposed reforms to the country’s labor laws in 2016 would essentially make it easier for companies to fire people and a growing concern over the mistreatment of refugees became coupled with the continuing unofficial segregation in the outer suburbs, known as banlieues and the tragic Parisian terrorist attack that took place only 5 months earlier. In April of 2016, thousands of disgruntled Parisians took to the streets to protest the dire situation in their country and PNL’s Le Monde ou Rien became an anthem for the youth movement, racking up an impressive 100 million views and counting on youtube.

The track was included on their debut album Le Monde Chico, released October 30, 2015, together with the political movement that surrounded the track made PNL a true phenomenon within French music. The album remained independent of any multinational label and still within five months had sold gold in France (more than 50,000 copies). On September 16, 2016, their second official album, Dans la Légende, is released, which reached gold record status within a week, platinum within a month and by May of 2017 the album had gone certified Diamond, selling over ten million units. 

Another key to their success has laid in the high-quality production of their music videos, in particular with the songs Naha, OnizukaBéné and Jusqu'au dernier gramme, a series was made consisting of four short films, with a total duration of more than an hour. Two weeks ago the duo returned with their latest track 'Au DD', announcing their new album Deux Frères which drops today. Beyond the impressive feat of being one of the only music video shoots ever to have been allowed to film on the Effiel tower and the to date almost 40 million views, the video also featured a jacket that had been specially designed by Virgil Abloh for the occasion.  

The new album Deux Frères is out now you can stream it below and if you’ve slept on this talented French duo we highly recommend you get up to date before everyone else is listening to PNL.