French rapper Oxmo Puccino drew on the street-smart American hip-hop of the Notorious B.I.G. and other icons to document life in Paris' hardscrabble 19th district. Born Abdoulaye Diarra in Mali in 1974, he arrived in Paris at age five. A longtime hip-hop fan, at age 21 Diarra began his collaboration with the fledgling rap collective Time Bomb. He quickly developed into a lyricist with a metaphorical ingenuity far more advanced than his contemporaries, crafting violent yet strangely poetic portraits of urban Paris life. In 1996 Oxmo Puccino made his recorded debut with "Pucc. Fiction." A series of subsequent albums solidified his reputation within the French rap underground. ~ Jason Ankeny
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