The Hop is above all a group of friends passionate about the same hip hop sounds. A common love which quickly leads them towards the creation of an orchestra gravitating around the cream of Parisian rap (1995, Espieem, Jazzy Bazz…) in 2010. Today cut off from part of its original formation and invigorated by the ‘Acoustic Adventure Stud, the basic trio made up of Benjamin, Tony and Clément – who has become a quartet since the integration of the latest comer Daniel – continues its journey in a beautiful way; between an appearance at the last Victoires de la Musique with Nekfeu, and more particularly their participation in the first Parisian edition Red Bull Music Academy organized this week.
The name The Hop, is it a reference to A Tribe Called Quest?
Benjamin: Before we met, we all made music on our side. Clement and Tony already knew each other, a friend introduced the three of us, and we said why not create a group together and start playing in small bars. We already had rapper buddies at the time: Espiiem, Jazzy Bazz, The Strange and the who will become 1995. We said that for our first concert, we were going to have a big hip-hop evening with musicians at the ‘Abracadabra. The room asked us for a name to announce us, that’s how we came up with the name of The Hop. At that time, we really listened to a lot of hip-hop like A Tribe Called Quest, the Jay Dee, the Detroit sound, all that rap a little jazzy or nude sound. It was consistent, it clearly indicated our affiliation.
Was the original idea of the group, to play only for rappers?
Benjamin: Basically we just wanted to have instrumental training and invite all of our rappers and singers. In our first concert of The Hop, there was 1995, the Cool Connexion , Espiiem, L’Etrange and Kema . It was 6 or 7 years ago. At the end of this concert we had some compositions that we wanted to defend, but without having to bring 15 rappers each time. We had to make a choice and we decided to keep two rappers and a singer.
It was a format a bit apart in the landscape of new rap, which is not necessarily used to bands?
Benjamin : Marketing level was not top because difficult to classify, but it allowed us to cover the hip-hop and nude soul side at the same time. After a year of existence, there were thirteen of us on stage … And that until our first EP. We were a little fanfare with a section of copper very dense musically, and visually it makes a troop. It is clear that it was original, but the disadvantage is that it was not at all profitable. It was becoming too difficult to be booked in theaters, I even think that we were never all together in rehearsal. It was a little complicated.
Tony : Suddenly, we reduced the number of people as we went along. It tightened a little naturally and a little by force of circumstances.
Benjamin : We realized that at this number, we could not turn or only at a loss. In addition we made a live sound which was much too messy, everyone did their thing individually, it could be mess. The other problem is that our EP was a bit of a catch-all, it was hard to have a real image. It was neither hip-hop, nor soul… It can be a force but it was difficult to market. The hip-hop side, verse-chorus, pleased producers but we less and less. This was the basis for an untimely end.
We had a hip-hop album proposal by Musicast in line with what we were doing before. Not commercial, but something easy to access. We took six months to make new songs, and when we made them listen to the guys they farted a cable telling us that it was not hip-hop. At that time, we were changing, we were growing musically. It was this change that was the source of our separation from Kema and Espiiem. We couldn’t do ordinary hip-hop songs anymore, it pissed us off. From this hiatus, we continued to make sound by rejecting hip-hop.
How do you manage to impose a live band in the hip-hop world, facing artists like Isabell Slim who are not used to the musical language of musicians?
Benjamin: Frankly it depends. Espiiem, since he’s been playing with us for a long time, we never had communication problems, he’s a rap musician. He has the notion of tempo and rhythms, which are quite developed. By cons some time later, we were brought to play with a lot of rappers, and sometimes we did not speak the same language. When we counted in measurements, they couldn’t find their way around like that, we had to adapt. But we started with the guys who were good, they had this peculiarity, they knew how to play with musicians.
After this break, we thought we had to redo some stuff, we found it a shame to leave a stillborn project when it had potential. We always had concert proposals. Then we had the opportunity to continue on STUD with YARD who was looking for a live band. The concept consisted in bringing rappers to the Davout studio to record audio versions of their songs on video. From there, we returned to the game but without even thinking of an official return of The Hop. Thanks to STUD , we were able to play with some sizes of new rap like Isabell Slim , Medine , 113 , Ärsenik , S.Pri Noir… We saw that STUD worked well, so we kept this training for four musicians which was super interesting.
For STUD we were confronted with rappers much less comfortable with musicians, they did not know our language. If you asked them how many bars does your first verse last, they couldn’t say it, they couldn’t make you finish a verse without doing it all over again… They’re not bad rappers, it’s just their way of working. Over time it became less difficult, especially with people we know.
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