Artists overcome obstacles, stereotypes in poor Paris suburb

33 PHOTOS
Artists flourish in poor Paris neighborhood
See Gallery
Artists flourish in poor Paris neighborhood
Rapper Worms-T walks with his daughter to his apartment building in Pantin, France, September 2, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Apartment buildings are seen in the Cite Raymond Queneau in Bobigny, France, September 4, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Rapper Worms-T poses for a picture with friends from the "La Rue La Vraie" (The Real Street) crew on a staircase in the Cite Raymond Queneau in Pantin, France, September 1, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY?THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Rapper Ichon shoots a music video at his apartment in Montreuil, France, August 27, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAYTHE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Rapper Worms-T (c) hangs out with friends at a cafe in Pantin, France, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Rapper Worms-T sits in a car in front of the L'Abreuvoir housing estate where he grew up in Bobigny, France, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Designer Aisse N'diaye, owner of the clothing brand Afrikanista, takes the RER train to meet a friend in Paris, France, September 1, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Rapper Ichon records a song at a studio in Montreuil, France, August 28, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.?THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Rapper Ichon records a song at a studio in Montreuil, France, August 28, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.?THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Rapper Ichon poses for a picture in the bathroom of a recording studio in Montreuil, France, August 28, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Designer Aisse Ndiaye, owner of the clothing brand Afrikanista, sits on the couch at her parents' house in Clichy-sous-Bois, France, August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Rapper Ichon prepares tea at his apartment in Montreuil, France, September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Designer Aisse N'diaye poses for a picture wearing a shirt from her brand Afrikanista in Clichy-sous-Bois, France, August 26, 2016. N'diaye grew up in Clichy-sous-bois, where her parents currently reside. Behind her is the La Forestiere housing where she grew up, and which is now slated for demolition. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Rapper Ichon makes drinks for his friends at his parents' restaurant Rio Dos Camaraos in Montreuil, France, August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Designer Aisse N'diaye (R) and friends Sandrine Alcan (L) and Virginie Ehonian (C) wear T-shirts from N'diaye's brand Afrikanista in Clichy-sous-bois, France, August 26, 2016. N'diaye grew up in Clichy-sous-bois, where her parents currently live. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Rapper Ichon shoots a music video at his apartment as his friend looks at her phone, seen through a glass window, in Montreuil, France, August 27, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAYTHE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Rapper Ichon sits in a jacuzzi for a photo shoot in Paris, France, August 30, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY? THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
The entrance to an apartment building is seen in the Cite L'Abreuvoir in Bobigny, France, September 9, 2016. Rapper Worms-T grew up in the cite. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
An apartment building is seen in the Les Courtillieres housing estate in Pantin, France, September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAYTHE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Sonia Amougou, who is working on a music business start-up, hangs out with her friend Elody in Elody's car in Paris, France, September 3, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAYTHE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Ichon DJs at the Le Jeune bar in Paris, France, September 10, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Rapper Ichon sits on the couch of his parents' apartment in Montreuil, France, August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Sonia Amougou, who is working on a music business start-up, smokes a cigarette in Bondy, France, August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Rapper Ichon shoots a music video at his apartment in Montreuil, France, August 27, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Friends of Worms-T hang out near the back entrance of the Cite Raymond Queneau in Pantin, France, September 3, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Friends of Worms-T prepare for a video shoot in the lobby of a housing estate in Pantin, France, September 3, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Worms-T edits a music video at his home in Pantin, France, September 4, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.?THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Rapper Worms-T plays with his children in Pantin, France, September 2, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.? THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Worms-T (R) and two friends prepare to shoot a scene in a music video in Bobigny, France, September 3, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
A friend of Worms-T poses while doing a wheelie on his motorcycle in Pantin, France, September 3, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Friends of rapper Worms-T listen to him record a new song in a studio in Pantin, France, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
Worms-T looks out of the window of his mum's apartment in Bobigny, France, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney SEARCH "CREATIVE BANLIEUE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. THE IMAGES SHOULD ONLY BE USED TOGETHER WITH THE STORY - NO STAND-ALONE USES.
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

PARIS, Oct 5 (Reuters) - The neighborhood of Seine-Saint-Denis, on the northern fringe of Paris, is home to a generation whose families migrated from former French colonies to help rebuild France after the war. It is also the country's poorest city district.

But while many here are marginalized, France's suburbs have produced some of its hottest contemporary actors, artists and musicians, including actor Omar Sy and comedian Jamel Debbouze, each formed by their own battles against entrenched stereotypes.

SEE ALSO: California mosaic house is a romantic homage to two artists

Ichon, a 25-year-old rapper whose parents emigrated from Cameroon and who grew up in Montreuil, a neighborhood in Seine-Saint-Denis, wants his music to transcend the divide between metropolitan Paris and the neglected banlieue suburbs.

"I have friends I grew up with here who, when I told them I was in Paris would think 'Wow, Paris!', like it was a big deal," he says. "They thought Paris wasn't for them. But in my opinion, the choice is yours."

Ichon's music blends rap and other genres. As well as music, he enjoys cooking, a passion inherited from his parents who run a restaurant in Montreuil.

"Life is a music video. In a sense everything is fake. You choose your image. You choose your life, you choose your music video," Ichon says.

Worms-T, whose family is originally from Algeria, is also a rapper from Seine-Saint-Denis, referred to by locals as "le 9-3" after its department number.

He lives with his wife and his father, picks his daughter up from school each day and doesn't drink or smoke, but the 28-year-old's lyrics are packed with references to a very different sort of life in the banlieues.

"In the 9-3, our different communities are really united together. If everyone were into violence, crime, and easy money, there would only be rich people in the 9-3. But the rich people are on the other side of the periph," he says, referring to the highway that encircles metropolitan Paris.

Worms-T raps about what he knows: the obstacles life in the banlieues throws up, his crew La Rue La Vraie (The Real Street), crime and his planned rise to the top of the rap game.

His melancholic lyrics play to the threatening image many French hold of the concrete estates, even if the rapper says he thinks of the suburbs as a place for family and friends.

"What do people want to hear about from the banlieue? They want to hear about violence, so that's what I give them," Worms-T says. "It's like opening up your heart, but your heart is dark. We're rejecting what they've put in our heart."

Immigration and identity are hot-button themes in France ahead of next year's presidential election. Anti-immigration parties are gaining strength across Europe, including France's own far-right Front National.

"Le 9-3's" young generation of artists hail from different backgrounds but share a sense that the banlieues are isolated from mainstream society and misrepresented in the media.

Designer Aisse N'diaye expresses her Mauritanian roots through her clothing line, called Afrikanista.

Her latest collection is called "Liberte, Egalite, Affaire de papiers," a play on France's national motto and the struggle immigrants face obtaining their identity papers. It combines T-shirts bearing the names of African neighborhoods in Paris with red-fringed epaulets made from woven PVC shopping bags.

"African women are strong, so it's to show their strength and independence, a woman who is proud of her origins and who knows where she is going," N'diaye says.

"I am French. But today in France people don't recognize me as completely French ... When something bad happens, it's always the fault of immigrants, or the fault of Muslim people."

More on AOL.com:
City tells family of missing child to remove signs from home
Yemen central bank crisis raises new famine fears
Mother of deceased military veteran pens powerful op-ed directed at Trump

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.