La Melo Est Gangx: How Gazo and Tiakola Rule the World

Rising from Paris’ banlieues to racking up billions of streams, Gazo and Tiakola are changing the paradigm of French music history.

Fashion 
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When it comes to “regne sur le monde”, no one in France is doing it quite like Gazo and Tiakola.

French rap is stronger than it’s ever been. While Central Cee, Dave and a slew of other talented hitmakers are helping UK rap dominate airwaves across the globe, Gazo and Tiakola are the two artists ensuring French rap rules the world.

France now has the second biggest market for hip hop in the world after the US – and Gazo and Tiakola are the flag-bearers of French hip-hop in 2023. Both artists’ last records shot to No.1 in France – with Tiakola’s last album ‘Mélo’ having gone Triple Platinum, while Gazo’s last record, ‘KMT’, secured him three No.1 spots.

Trips on the Eurostar have been more frequent in recent years between the worlds of UK and FR rap. You’ve probably heard Tiakola link up with Dave on their hit track “Meridian”, earlier in the year, while Gazo is the break-out star of French drill. ‘drill fr’ established himself as one of the genre’s hardest talents, with Unknown T, Headie One and Russ Millions all linking with him in recent years.

Gazo and Tiakola represent a new cultural phenomenon, which has seen them pop off out of Paris’ banlieues to change the paradigm of French music history and become two of the country’s most-hyped exports in the process.

The duo have now just joined forces for ‘La Melo Est Gangx’ – a collaborative joint tape which sees the two Parisian powerhouses fuse their different styles into a high-energy tape packed with ice-cold flows and an effervescent, pop-leaning musicality.

To celebrate the release of the tape, Corteiz linked up with the artists to create a limited-edition run of CRTZ x MLGX collab apparel, saluting their status as world-leading artists.

Ahead of the drop, Hypebeast caught up with Gazo and Tiakola to talk through their affinity with Paris, the rise of French rap, how the Corteiz collab came about and how they plan to rule the world in the future.

Listen to Gazo and Tiakola’s ‘LA MELO EST GANGX’ in full below.

Talk to us about how you guys originally connected – did it feel like an organic, natural link-up?

Tiakola: We connected through meeting at the studio, as we were on the same label at the time. We always stayed in touch and we’ve always made a lot of music together – we have a real friendship outside of music. But making all this music together, we said “why not do a joint project?” Little by little, it went from idea to reality.

Gazo: We were so into making music that we slept in the studio, so I saw him every time he came into record. He was one of the first to give me strength at that time, right at the beginning.

Your sonics are inherently quite different – almost providing a sonic yin and yang effect. Do you think that’s why you work so well together when making music?

Tiakola: There is clearly something complimentary in our universes. Our voices and harmonies are very different but at the same time we have a lot of things in common, like nostalgia and the things that we like to speak about in our music. We work well together because we exchange a lot and we contribute a lot musically to each other.

Gazo: Mélo (Tiakola’s alias) is one of the best in France, the toplinesare really elevated, always looking for a new musicality.

Tiakola: Gazo also works a lot on his musicality, his choruses are really strong. He also has a very powerful voice and crazy flows. He’s a hard worker, it’s one of the values we share – we’re always raising the level higher.

Hip-hop has run Paris throughout your lifetimes. What was your experience growing up with the genre – who were you listening to that inspired your sonics?

Gazo: We grew up on hip hop but not only that, because we have parents, brothers and sisters who listened to a lot of other things…but by and large we are definitely the generation that grew up with rap.

Tiakola: Who were we listening to? Many artists but if we had to name just a few… artists like Sefyu, Nessbeal.

Gazo: For me? Mister You and Rohff.

How would you describe growing up in Paris? And how would you describe your affinity with the city?

Gazo: I had a bit of a nomadic youth, I lived a thousand different lives, quite a lot of different homes and a lot of problems but that’s what led me here today. These experiences are what fuelled my creativity for sure.

Tiako: I grew up in La Courneuve, it’s the city that saw me grow up and evolve me into what I am today. Paris will always be my hometown.

How would you say Parisian / French rap have a different attitude to its UK/US counterparts? 

T&G: We will always have a foot in Paris and France. It’s not the same codes or the same themes as US rap – and that’s why the French rap market is doing so well – it’s completely independent from the American market. UK rap is closer, but then England is closer to us… especially now with all the connections you’re hearing.

Compared to French rap of the 90’s, there are a lot of different genres meshing together and formulating new sonics in French rap, be it afrobeat, drill, or trap. Do you think that fusion is what is making it so successful in 2023?

T&G: There have always been many sub-genres of French rap, Afro inspirations have actually existed for a very long time, RnB too. Now with streaming, collabs and the number of artists there are compared to before, it’s true that all these genres are being rejuvenated. That’s what makes rap culture so powerful today, there’s something to appeal to every taste.

“I lived a thousand different lives, in quite a lot of different homes and a lot of problems – but that’s what led me to being here today.”

Did growing up in bi-lingual homes, speaking other languages, help you develop your self-expression and rapping ability?

Gazo: Definitely, but more in the musicality than in my ability as a rapper.

Tiakola: Me, I grew up in a family of 8 children where everyone listened to a different thing. The sisters listened to the international style of RnB, like Beyoncé and all that, my brothers listened to French and US rap and my parents listened to traditional Congolese music. We also learned how to sing in church as a family. There is no better school to work on your harmonies!

You guys have helped foster a symbiotic relationship with your UK counterparts, like Dave, Unknown T and Central Cee. Why do you think that crossover has been so successful in recent years?

T&G: Truthfully, as they say in England, we are next-door neighbours, so it makes sense that connections are made. The English are looking more and more at what we are doing here and we are plugged in more and more over there too. That means there is respect and connections are made and that helps everyone and pushes creativity forward. That’s also why we went there to work and record part of the project in London.

UK and French rap has long been overlooked – particularly from across the pond. Why do you feel like both scenes are finally achieving mainstream, global success?

T&G: Rap is so strong here; it does the numbers, the views, the huge festival shows… people in other countries see it, they listen and they take it more seriously, I think.

Talk to us some more about the album. How did this collab album come together – and what did you want to achieve with it?

T&G: We really wanted to have fun and show the fans a good time above all else. We had two big years in 2022/2023 with (previous albums) KMT and MÉLO, so we wanted to release something a little special this time, a one off to thank the fans and if possible move the culture forward with a project that goes hard, because we worked a lot over the last year, we wanted to give back to the fans for what they have given us.

How did the collaboration with Corteiz come about?

T&G: We have been in touch with Clint for a moment now, we have people in common – and we both wear the brand. We were finishing the album in London a few months back and he said he wanted to be part of making history so we said “let’s go” straight away. It gels perfectly with the DNA of the project. Clint is our only feature basically (laughs).

“The UK are looking more and more at what we are doing here and we are plugged in more and more over there too.”

What do you think of Corteiz’s success throughout 2023 and the brand becoming a streetwear powerhouse?

T&G: Corteiz is powerful! From the beginning, the marketing strategies were really fresh. He is making history and reinventing the codes. Breaking the rules and reinventing them is a mindset that we share with him.

Where are you guys looking to take things next year? And what is the vision for 2024?

T&G: We’re going to tour festivals together with an exclusive show and continue to work on our individual projects, go even further. “La Mélo Est GANGX”

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