Over the last few years, MC Solaar, France's first breakout hip-hop star, has found it hard to maintain the international buzz he enjoyed throughout the '90s. Unlike younger Parisian rap acts like TTC, who have successfully incorporated the city's acclaimed electro scene into their music and enjoyed sold-out world tours, MC Solaar has chosen to stick with his tried-and-tested sound palette — smoky jazz samples, acoustic guitar lines, R&B hooks and overly dramatic, string-laden Europop.
Mach 6, his seventh album, may lack the hipster edge, but when his understated poetic delivery finds a suitable sonic partner, as it does on the laidback, upright bass-led “J'connasi Mon Role,” MC Solaar sounds as good as anything the Roots have produced recently. However, as a whole, none of Mach 6's sixteen songs come close to re-capturing the vibrant energy that accompanied his Cymande sampling debut single “Bouge de La” way back in 1990.
Diehard fans who have matured into middle age with him will no doubt be more forgiving, but if you're looking for new, exciting forms of international hip hop, look elsewhere. Unless you're holding a dinner party that is.