If… Flames existed 20 years ago

Parallel universes don’t just exist with Marvel and Daniels. French rap also has alternate realities where things don’t happen the same way. In another world,

NTM didn’t slow down after their fourth album ; Booba and Kaaris had never met in Orly;

Vincent Cassel replaced his brother in Assassin ; I am PLG

The New School won ;

Diam never stopped rappinghe even

He released a joint album with Sinik

One of the musical events of 2023 in our world will be the first Flame Ceremony, jointly organized by Booska-P, Smile and Yard. Born with the aim of offering a truly reliable alternative to Victoires de la Musique, and offering a showcase for urban culture (whatever that term means), this first edition certainly raises many questions. How will the rap world react? Did we really need this kind of event? We’ve complained a lot about the Victoires de la Musique, do we really need to adopt the principle of a ceremony with voting, winners and a wonderful fictional spirit of unity? How will the Flames affect the careers of winners and nominees?

We’ll have to wait until May 2023 for more definitive answers, but we already know that “a necessary ceremony for the rap world, a battle between those who openly praise the birth of our own Victory, thanks Booska- P, Yard and Smile” and Booska -P will spit on him, denouncing the fakeness, the fakeness of the votes, or the hypocrisy of the general atmosphere.

In a parallel worldall these questions no longer arise from 2023 Flames was born 20 years ago earlier. The first ceremony, launched in 2003, was organized by three different players: the paper magazine Radikal; Fnac monthly, Epoch; and Rap2Kthe website launched two years ago, its forum is one of the first French rap discussion communities.

2003: First edition

In 2003, the situation was clear: Victoires de la Musique did not know how to deal with French rap. The category, including rap, changes its name every year, and the choice of winners makes no sense: Manau beats Arsenik and NTM, Doc Gynéco is crowned with a trembling album, and the 2002 edition separates the same category profiles as Dissiz. , Pierpoljak and Sinsemilia.

In response to this absurd nonsense, three media outlets have come together to offer French rap listeners an alternative. The first edition is thought of as an experiment in a context that has started to become gloomy for the music industry: for the first time, record companies saw their turnovers fall in 2002. Fnac agrees to put up a modest amount to support the project and offers to host the event at its shop in Châtelet in Les Halles. “Radikal” attracts its readers and promises to publish a collection of candidates.

An agreement is reached with the EU group to broadcast the event on the Zik TV channel. The ceremony, scheduled for Tuesday, October 1, will celebrate albums released between September 1, 2002 and June 30, 2003. After much deliberation, it was decided to call the event “Les Flammes”, referring to many classic works. French Rap: Passy’s Evil Flame, “If FN Flares His Flame, I’m Here To Put It Out” by NTM, Solaar’s Cry Flame, etc.

Another agreement is quickly reached for nomination and voting. As a first step, record companies and labels must register their candidates on the platform developed by Rap2K. Internet users can then vote on the site’s forum to create an initial selection that increases the number of subscribers. Moderators don’t manage, the server gets saturated, and the operation becomes a victim of its own success. Worse: the process is not secure, non-existent artists are registered by internet users, and others are registered multiple times without anyone noticing. For example, Demon One is listed 13 times under various spellings: Demon 0ne, Demon One, DemonOne, Dem0n One, Demone One, etc.

Internet users’ votes are also victims of blatant fraud: everyone quickly realizes that all they have to do is delete their history and cookies, or change browsers to be able to vote a second, third time, etc. A stupid but exciting war begins between the trolls of the network, which Toulouse group Fabulous Trobadors (“Fabulous Trobadors”) decided to win (“

A mix between Occitan folklore, organic beat, rap rhythm and Brazilian music tradition”), and record companies who do their best to present the award to their artists. For their part, some activists are trying to save the day by championing the cause of real rappers and the independent scene.

No one dares to admit that the system is not well thought out and many internet users, record companies, and media are involved in pushing back. It’s a cold shower when the list of nominees comes down: not only do they make no sense, but they’ll pass over the Victoires de la Musique, a ceremony organized by the greats of French rap.


best album category

Les Fabulous Trobadors – “Tchatche duels and other things from Toulouse folklore”
Mafia K’1 Fry – “The Cherry On The Ghetto”
Diam – “Brut de Femme”
Gomez and Dubois (Eben and Faf Larage) – “Cops and Laws”

Best solo artist category

Claude Sicre (The Incredible Troubadours)

Category best group or collective

Mafia K1Fry
Psy4 of Rime
The X factor
The Magnificent Troubadours

Best single category

“Dirty Kids” (Dadoo)
“Carved in Rock” (Sniper)
“Oiaiaia” (Legendary Troubadours)
“At the Top” (113)

Discovery category of the year

Kool Shen
Claude Sicre (The Incredible Troubadours)

Best clip category

Mafia K1Fry – “For Them”
Don Choa – “Dr. Hannibal”
Les Fabulous Trobadors – “There Are Boys (without clip)”
Klub des Loosers – “Ca va s’arranger instrumental version (no clip)”


The voting system is being strengthened by the organizers of the event so that the nomination chaos does not happen again. Voters will be readers of Radikal magazine, but to eliminate the risk of duplicates, scammers and trolls, only subscribers of six months or more will be invited to participate. In each copy of the July-August 2003 issue, lucky winners will find a numbered newsletter to be returned to the editor.

The ploy of the record companies, who had easy access to the list and coordinates of the magazine’s subscribers, and discreetly contacted them with offers to buy back their newsletters, was not counted. Hip-hop’s defenders rise up, the greediest get paid handsomely, and the voting turns into chaos again.

There is even worse: the editorial board of “Radikal” is on the verge of rebellion. The magazine will publish monthly portraits and interviews of each of the candidates, including the most absurd ones, in September. Editor-in-chief Olivier Cachin threatens to end his life when he is asked to publish a portrait of Conigo from the perspective of the “revelation of 2003”. The journal team should also organize the preparation and recording of a compilation that brings together different candidates. Fnac puts its hands in the dough to store the furniture, offering to publish the disc and manage its distribution.


September 2003 is a real hell for the various organizers of the event. server of Rap2K is constantly collapsing and the site team succumbs to the enormity of the quagmire. The writing Radical is threatened by half of the candidates who categorically refuse to be associated with this disastrous event; but also threats from non-nominated and would-be nominees. On the ** ‘Epok ** side, we don’t really know how to get out of this trap. shareholders of the company Fnac railed against the bad publicity and unnecessary costs involved in organizing the ceremony and, citing obvious security concerns, got it to be held somewhere other than the Les Halles forum shop.

Therefore, at the last minute, various organizers pooled their last savings to rent an empty lot in Lille, install an open-air stage, a sound system and give out the prizes. A few minutes before the start of the ceremony, an explosion of fire dashed the last hopes of those who still believed in it. The audience was quickly evacuated and there were no casualties, but it remains a mystery today: Who lit the flames?

The investigation never yielded a definitive answer. Initially, the organizers were charged, hoping to cover the costs incurred through insurance, and above all to avoid the embarrassment of such a disastrous ceremony. Others took aim at some candidates who would rather kill the event than risk an ignominious victory: Mafia K1Frythey are The Magnificent Troubadoursmaybe even Diam. Some investigators even followed an unexpected lead: fearing a turn of events and the unexpected success of the Flames, the organizers of the Victoires de la Musique wanted to nip a potential rival in the bud. Twenty years later, the mystery remains intact.

The second attempt will take place in 2008 under the impetus of a new trio of organizers: Booska-P, N-da-Hood and Rapadonphwith the ceremony broadcast on the platform Dailymotion … but that’s another story we’ll tell you next time.

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