Sniper (French pronunciation: snajˈpœʁ) is a French hip hop band from the Val-d'Oise department consisting of Tunisiano (Bachir Baccour) and Aketo (Ryad Selmi). Blacko, also known as Afrikaf (Karl Appela), was a member of the group until his departure in July 2007. A fourth member, DJ Boudj, took part in the first two albums before leaving the group.
The members of Sniper first met at the 1997 Francofolies festival at La Rochelle. There, DJ Boudj and the three rappers Aketo, Tunisiano and Blacko met and decided to form the group, originally called Personnalité suspecte (Suspicious Character). This name was abbreviated to Persni and finally ended up as Sniper, an example of the French slang form, known as verlan.
The three members form a complementary group, as Aketo and El Tunisiano have developed more of a rap style and Blacko prefers an approach closer to reggae; meanwhile DJ Boudj takes care of the scratching. They began by making appearances on various mixes and compilations, such as The Power of Unity, Première classe (First Class) and B.O.S.S..
Sniper's career officially began in January 2001, with the release of their first album, Du rire aux larmes (From laughter to tears) on the Desh Music label. The album title indicates the philosophy of the group: a mixture of humor (of a verbal tournament between Aketo and Tunisiano) and more serious texts ("Pris Pour Cible"), run in varied energetic tempos. Song topics can be found in everyday life: racism, exits, girls. They do not forsake the rap form but avoid contributing to the stereotype of rap music as ghetto music. The album went double gold with more than 250,000 album sold.
In spring 2003, the group produced a more refined album, Gravé dans la roche (Carved in stone). This album covers many subjects like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with "Jeteur de pierres" (Stone thrower), global warming on "Visions chaotiques" (Chaotic visions) or the idleness of certain young people in Trop vite" (Too fast). Lighter titles are not in "Processus 2003" and "Recette maison" (House recipe). The best known singles are "Sans (re)pères" (Without point/father) and "Gravé dans la roche" (Engraved in stone). "Panam All Starz" is a piece which gathers various artists of the Paris area, each one representing a department: Haroun (75th department), Mano Kid Mesa (77th), L'Skadrille (78th), Sinik and Diam's (91st), Salif and Zoxea (92nd), Tandem (93rd), 113 (94th) and Sniper (95th)
As the group's popularity grew, so did their fan base. This popularity showed in the second album which sold more than 400,000 copies, nearly double the sales of the previous album. This success was notably due to the fact that they were less crude and refined their lyrics in order to produce a quality album.
On 2 May 2006, Sniper returned to the French rap scene. A few weeks after its release, their album was placed a number 1 in sales. However, the group changed. DJ Boudj left Sniper. The reasons were not detailed but it would be considered to be an argument, "as in any family", explained one of the remaining members of the group. At that time, the group marked a clear evolution reaching a certain maturity whose first steps had already been perceptible in their second album Gravé dans la roche.
With the album Trait pour trait, Sniper reached total sales of more than 1 million copies for all three albums and thus confirmed themselves as one of the best rap bands in France.
In three albums, Sniper convinced rap fans in France that they were interested in many quite different subjects, such as religion, international conflicts like Iraq-US, Palestine-Israel, or love, respect, resentment, various injustices and inequalities, immigration, the difficulties of life in the suburbs, the real/fake dream of the Western world and racism, etc.
The group is subject to heteroclite influences: old style rap, in particular under the influence of Aketo, as well as drawing from texts in Arabic, sung by Tunisiano, but also Blacko's reggae work.
The group confirmed that a fourth album would appear once they finished their respective solo albums. However, Blacko announced on 20 February 2008 that he had separated himself from the group since July 2007.
Sniper's fourth album À toute épreuve was released on 26 September 2011 in digital format and on 3 October 2011 in physical form.
The group has had several legal battles, notably for their lyrics in songs such as "La France" and for a song on the conflict in the Middle East called "Jeteur de pierres'" (Stone thrower). The group was acquitted by the court of Rouen of charges based on "La France". They were later accused of antisemitism based on their treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on their second album, which provoked the ire of several Jewish organizations. The Minister of the Interior at the time, Nicolas Sarkozy, called them "ruffians who dishonor France".
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license