French Siboy Artistically Rebrands Hardcore Rap, He Hopes

Olivia Walters 

The first distinguishing traits about Siboy are his ski mask and shiny grill flashing between two fingers doing the cunnilingus sign.

If there was a puzzle called “Match the Accessory to the Rapper,”  Biggie’s lopsided crown and Kanye’s runway ready parachute pants would make up the most iconic pieces.

But Siboy is Siboy for his ski mask.

While he’s hardly been the first to don the fashion statement, the look complements Siboy’s gruff rap style.

French Youtube teases listeners with 15-second clips of Activia ads, new cappuccino K-cup products, and an eye-roll of marketing championing healthy eating habits for the young. 

The 5 seconds before the Skip Ad rectangle pops up can feel like ages, but on rare occasions, Youtube stalks your search history enough to recommend a song that catches your attention.

That was the case when I unwittingly clicked on Siboy’s newest release “Téléphone.”

“Mom, please don’t cry/black legends don’t die.”

Despite a dubious, yet unimpressive collection of video thumbnails in which wads of money and cheap font form a boring curation for yet another low-on-the-radar rapper, I hit play.

On the set of his video shoots, I imagine Siboy hops around pulling ski masks out of trash bags to hand out to the extras. Long-legged woman and Rottweilers freakishly stare into the camera through ragged eye holes and ventilation gaps. 

Not entertained by the militant-BDSM vibe, I wanted to chuck my phone into the sink disposal and sacrifice Siboy to its mildewy jaws.

That sound would have been preferable.

Siboy offers is a brash, inaudible string of lyrics about a call he makes to a marabout, a Muslim holy teacher popular in Western Africa (translated): “The marabout told me, on the phone/put on your ski mask and spread the coke.”

The song boasts about all the sluts in Siboy’s contact list, with occasional references to his mother’s worry: “Mom, they’re scared of me, but I’m only making music/Son of an immigrant, I don’t sleep, I fight, I don’t speak/Mom, please don’t cry/black legends don’t die.”

While the lyrics reward applause for a dim sense of poeticism, a recent interview called “Beneath the Ski mask,” animated by a journalist at Noisey, Vice’s music channel, lends a different story.

Between stifled laughter and jokes about the journalist’s supposedly wacky questions, Siboy offers an interesting remark when asked if his ski mask is an impediment rather than an accessory (translated):

“I don’t know how, but we’re going to change the ski mask into something more artistic. It’s like Spiderman in the beginning, he takes some time to find his look, but once it’s developed, he can start flying everywhere in the city. It’s the same for me!”

He makes another childish, fictional self-reference to Lord Voldemort. Then Siboy explains how the ski mask could have villainized him in 2015, when he planned to shoot a video around the same time as the November Paris attacks. Wearing the ski mask in that climate would have made him an easy target.

In light of France’s ongoing state of emergency, the ski mask might not be doing him any favors in terms of booking venues, but fans are taking to “Téléphone” for its rebellious sentiments.

Youtube user Chakal Wonka commented (translated), “The tone makes me want to cross the street when the light is red.” And, “The tone makes me want to flag Pornhub for its pornographic content,” user El-Turco wrote. 

Innocent enough given Siboy’s heart racing, spastic aggression. Maybe these Youtubers are looking to Siboy as their own marabout, but then again, maybe they’re just mocking him.

But to try and understand what’s really going on in Siboy’s brain is going to take a dose of my own amphetamine—perhaps his head’s been terminally suffocated by the pressure of the ski-mask. ■

Header image credit: Melchoir Tersen for VICE 

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