Diam's

Born : 27/07/1980 in Nicosia (Cyprus)
Country : France
Language : French
Category : Female Artist / Songwriter
Style of music : Rap

Diam’s is a rare female force on the predominantly male French rap scene. Through her sheer energy and live charisma, the feisty young French "rappeuse" has won impressive street cred as well as respect from record industry professionals and her peers.

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  • Diam's website
  • Diam’s is a rare female force on the predominantly male French rap scene. Through her sheer energy and live charisma, the feisty young French "rappeuse" has won impressive street cred as well as respect from record industry professionals and her peers.

    Mélanie Georgiades was born in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, on 27 July 1980. Diam's was of mixed nationality, being born of a French mother and a Cypriot father, but her father walked out on the family when Mélanie was still in early childhood and she was raised as an only child by her mother. Her mother left Cyprus and moved to France when Mélanie was just four years old, and the young girl ended up growing up in the quiet suburb of Orsay, south of Paris.

    But Mélanie soon grew bored of her tranquil life amidst bungalows with neatly mown lawns. And she started moving further afield in search of stimulation, hanging out on local housing estates where the rap movement was at the heart of teenage life. Mélanie's own musical tastes were fairly eclectic at the time. She was a big fan of mainstream French pop star Francis Cabrel, but also loved the work of major rap groups such as Suprême NTM and Public Enemy. Inspired by what she heard, Mélanie soon began writing her own songs. Casting around for a stage name, she settled on the idea of Diam’s (inspired by the dictionary definition of a diamond as "an object of luxury and ornamentation, found in pure mineral form. The hardest substance known to man, a diamond can only be cut by another diamond." 

    1995: Diam's joins a group

    By the age of 15, Diam's had made a name for herself on the burgeoning rap scene in the Paris suburbs, rapping with various posses such as Instances Glauques in Bagneux. Despite the fact that the scene was dominated by male rappers and machismo reigned largely unchecked, Diam's managed to carve out a place for herself as a talented young 'rappeuse.'

    It was in Bagneux in 1997 that Diam's hooked up with Yannick from the Mafia Trece posse. She went on to guest on two tracks on the posse's album, "Cosa Nostra," in 1998. However, not having turned 18, Diam's was faced with a number of legal problems such as not being able to sign recording contracts and her collaboration with the group soon came to an end. She continued guesting on other projects, however, and later in 1998 she appeared on "Le groove prend le maki" compilation with Les Neg Marrons. Diam's also got involved on the campaigning front, taking part in the anti-racist tour "Sachons dire non" and performing at the XXL rap festival in Bobigny. In fact, between 1998 and 1999 Diam's went on to play some 50 gigs, despite the fact she did not have a manager or any other kind of professional support. 

    1999: Diam's goes solo

    Meanwhile, Diam's had made the acquaintance of another prominent figure on the local rap scene: rap composer and producer Black Mozart. It was thanks to Black Mozart that Diam's was finally able to launch a professional career (even as she struggled to make ends meet, earning a paltry income from various odd jobs). Working in close collaboration with Black Mozart, Diam's went into the studio to record her début opus, "Premier mandat." The album, released on the independent label Reel Up in 1999, featured a host of guest stars including Americans DV aka Khrist and Heather B and French talent Mr R., Driver and Vibe. Despite the prestigious guest credits, "Premier mandat" failed to take off with the record-buying public and proved to be a big commercial flop.

    Undeterred by this setback, Diam's soldiered on with her career. She continued to make her mark on the French rap scene, which was slowly beginning to open its doors to other female artists. Meanwhile Diam's, the ex-tomboy, matured into womanhood, feminising her image while maintaining her street cred and winning respect from her peers. She took another major step forward in her career, too, teaming up with a manager by the name of Choukri.

    In 2000, Diam's went on to record a cover of "Saïd et Mohamed," a song by her childhood idol Francis Cabrel. The track was featured on the compilation "HipHopée." Diam's also went into the studio with another leading French 'rappeuse,' Lady Laistee and recorded the acclaimed duet "Un peu de respect." Another major collaboration of this period was when Diam's teamed up with Kanmouze and Jongo Jack on the song "Promise."

    Meanwhile, Diam's reputation was spreading thanks to various appearances on other people's albums and performances on local radio stations where she took part in improvised rap sessions which were broadcast live. In 2001, Diam's featured on the "Original Bombattack" compilation (named after a show on the station Générations 88.2). Her contribution, "Suzy," made an impressive impact on the rap scene and shifted her up a notch in her career.

    2003: Second album hits home

    By 2002, Diam's had emerged from the rap underground on to the mainstream and this new status was confirmed when she was offered a recording contract with a major label, EMI, in April of that year. Diam's went straight into the studio to record a two-track vinyl (featuring "Pogo" and "1980"), but the release of her forthcoming second album was cancelled owing to internal wrangling at EMI. Diam's second opus, "Brut de femme", was finally released on the Hostile label on 27 May 2003. Diam's follow-up album was more openly autobiographical than the first, the feisty young 'rappeuse' tackling themes close to her heart such as marital violence, absent fathers and women's status in the suburbs. The album proved to be a hit with the record-buying public, selling 250,000 copies. But it was the single "DJ" which really catapulted Diam's to the top of the charts. The single went on to become the major summer hit of 2003 and sales quickly topped the 700,000 mark. Diam's teenage fanbase expanded even further when she appeared on the soundtrack of the cult French film "Taxi 3" later that year.

    2004: Major music award

    On 20 October 2003, Diam's performed her first show at a major Parisian music venue, L'Elysée Montmartre. A few weeks later, on 20 January 2004, the feisty young 'rappeuse' went on to perform at another famous music spot, Le Bataclan. Meanwhile, Diam's was winning increasing critical recognition for her work. On 28 February 2004, France's favourite female rapper walked off with a coveted "Victoire de la musique" award for Best Rap/Hip hop Album of the Year. Diam's burgeoning solo success did not mean she abandoned her collaboration on fellow rap stars' projects. In April 2004, she guested on Kery James's album, "Savoir et vivre ensemble." She also appeared on an album by Layone and "Algérie solidarité" (a fund-raising compilation for victims of the Algerian earthquakes in 2003).

    On 13 May, Diam's made a personal visit to Algeria to perform a concert in Algiers. Following her album success and her "Victoires de la Musique" award, Diam's found herself in growing demand on the festival circuit. She brought the house down when she performed at the "Rencontres Méditerranéennes" in Béziers in May 2004 and got an equally enthusiastic reception from the audience when she appeared at the Ebony Festival in Dakar in June. Continuing her whistlestop schedule, Diam's went on to appear at the "Francofolies" in la Rochelle and the Paléo festival in Nyon (Switzerland) in July. On 3 November 2004, a special 'soirée' was organised for the launch of Diam's first live DVD.

    In February 2005, Diam's appeared on a compilation entitled "Illicite projet", starring alongside the 'crème de la crème' of the French rap movement (including 113, Ministère Amer and Disiz la Peste).  After this, she shut herself away for a while and began work on material for her third album. In December, Diam's was back in the music news thanks to DJ Dimé who released a retrospective, "Les 10 ans d'une Diam's", featuring remixes of the female rapper's hits as well as lesser-known songs and rarities.

    2006: " Dans ma bulle"

    With her third album not yet in record stores, Diam's hit the live circuit again in January 2006, for a mini "pre-tour", playing eight dates in France. Her album "Dans ma bulle" was finally released on 6 February and shot straight to the top of the French charts. Mining the same rich vein of inspiration as her second album, "Dans ma bulle" cemented Diam's reputation as a major star. Just as she had on "Brut de femme", Diam's revealed her true identity on her new album, celebrating her roots as a girl from the high-rise suburbs on the song "Ma France à moi." She also raised topical issues such as suicide on the track "TS." Diam's third album also contained a few more upbeat tracks such as "Jeune demoiselle", on which the 'rappeuse' tackled lighter material such as boyfriend problems. The first single release from the album was a song entitled "La boulette."

    The album proved to be a phenomenal success almost from the moment it hit record stores. Within a week of its release, "Dans ma bulle" had positioned itself firmly at the no.1 spot in the best-selling albums chart in France with sales topping 50,000. By the end of February, "Dans ma bulle" was the best-selling album out of 200 in France. Apparently not satisfied with having her songs broadcast non-stop on the French  airwaves, Diam's launched a television career, too. On 14 May she began hosting her own Sunday night show, "Télé Diam's", on the cable channel MCM. Mélanie worked as both presenter and editor on the show, giving her own take on the weekly music news.

    A few days after her TV debut, Diam’s performed at the Olympia, in Paris, on 26 May, filling every seat in the house. On 22 June, the second single release from her album, "Jeune Demoiselle", confirmed her chart-topping success. In the midst of an extensive tour, which included dates across France, Switzerland and Belgium, Diam's was contacted by Motown. The legendary American label offered her a job as artistic director of its French division, asking her to scout out the hottest up-and-coming French talents of the moment.

    Diam’s accepted the job, but still found time to assure a hectic schedule at that summer’s festivals, where audiences sang along to the chorus of her hit "La Boulette" with great gusto. Needless to say, the young ‘rappeuse’ brought the house down at Solidays (Paris), the Francofolies (La Rochelle), the Festival des Vieilles Charrues (Carhaix) and the Paléofestival (Nyon, Switzerland).

    Buoyed with her success, Diam’s continued touring in 2007. From 29-31 March she played to full houses at the Zénith in Paris, before flying out for concerts in Gabon, Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon. In June, she released her DVD "Autour de ma bulle", comprising four audio and video discs covering a hectic year and a half of live performances.

    2008 was a considerably darker year for Diam’s. She found it harder to bear the continual intrusions of the tabloid press, turning her life into one of public success yet private solitude. Diam’s succumbed to a serious depressive illness, which kept her in a psychiatric hospital for three months, unable to compose.

    2009: "S.O.S."

    She finally resurfaced in June 2009 and announced she would be recording a new album. In September, Diam’s married, and a month later, Paris Match published paparazzi shots of her and her husband coming out of a mosque, in which the rapper appeared to be veiled. The photos excited a lot of attention in the press, weeks before the release of her fourth album "S.O.S", on 16 November.

    The singer refused all interview offers, saying that the answers to any questions fans and journalists might ask could be found in "S.O.S", a confessional album in which Diam’s sings about her conversion to Islam. On the album she recounts her descent into hell following the success of "Dans ma bulle" (which sold a million copies), her failed love life, her time in hospital and the effects of the antidepressants which “fried her mind”.

    She also offers her vision of male/female relationships, defends once more a mixed-race France in "l’Honneur d’un peuple" and for the first time takes a position against the law which forbids students from wearing ostentatious religious symbols at state schools, clearly defending the right to wear a veil in the song "Lili".

    Often polemical, always full of rage, the lyrics to her new album disconcert. "S.O.S" topped the hit parade on release. The rapper donated all her royalties to the Big-Up Project of which she is the president, and which helps children from desperate backgrounds in Africa.

    The "S.O.S" tour kicked off in November, with four sold-out concerts in Paris in late December at the Cigale (20th), the Olympia (21st 22nd) and the Elysée-Montmartre (the 23rd).

    December 2009

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