Hopare Tribute to Dj Mehdi

© Hopare


A couple of days ago, Paris based street artist, Hopare, was asked by the association Art Azoï to paint a mural on the terrace of the entertainment center Ken Saro-Wiwa, in Paris. 

Wishing to turn to hip hop, the center has created that space for graffiti and street art achievements throughout the year. 





Music On Walls had the chance to discuss with Hopare about this project and here is what the artist wanted to share with you : 

Hi Hopare, recently you have been called by the association Art Azoï to repaint the wall of the cultural center Ken Saro-Wiwa in Paris (20th). 

Why did you to accept this project?

The reasons that led me to accept this project are first of all that I had previously worked with the association Art Azoï so I have great trust in their team and we had a really good feeling working together.

When Elise, (director of the association) told me about this project, I found it very interesting to take action in a cultural center with activities around the hip-hop culture in a working-class area where I really appreciate the interactions with the population. This is very rewarding to me.

During this project I had to interrupt painting in the middle of the week to go take on another wall on the square of La Défense (Paris). I could tell there was a huge contrast between the two projects within the same week. Painting in a neighborhood (Paris - 20th) where all the cultures are mixed together with no barrier between you and the people, where people feel free to come to you to exchange and share some time with you. And then painting in a complete different place, with a different crowd (La Défense) where you almost feel like you are in a zoo, where people are afraid to come talk to you, and don't come closer to exchange a word. (thanks to the organizers -Projet Saato-, after a while they had managed to make the crowd interact so it felt more alive)


Was there a particular theme for this project with Art Azoï? 

For this project there was no particular theme. Initially I had planned to do only abstract painting. Then I suggested I would paint the face of Ken Saro-Wiwa. Then after a discussion with Elise we decided to represent the portrait of Mehdi Favéris-Essadi, better known by his stage name DJ Mehdi, for the five years anniversary of his death. (20 January 1977 – 13 September 2011). 

© Hopare

© Hopare

Can you tell us why you have decided to pay tribute to Dj Medhi?

I found it very consistent to do so on that particular date in such a neighborhood and in this particular structure. I thought it was also very interesting to paint on a wall outside, overlooking the street much like Mehdi used to fly over the rap music. He is still for me the best beatmaker in the history of French rap .

I also had the opportunity and honor to work with his wife, Fafi, who is also a street artist that I really admire.

For this project, I felt ready to make the portrait of Dj Mehdi and to pay him tribute with my painting.



What did Dj Medhi mean to you?

The Magician, a genius, a precursor.

I grew up in a small town just next to Ulis (educational unit for integration). For several years I listened to a lot of French rap coming from the Ulis. And one day, my sister's boyfriend (coming from this place), gave me my first cassette of underground  "Ulis rap" (Ul'Team"Atom), where there was this mix tape of 113, Rhoff, Ideal J and many others...

To this day, Dj Mehdi remains for me the best beatmaker in the history of French rap and perhaps even of any music genre.

How to explain that he is the only French artist who managed to pass from rap to electro with the same success? Mehdi was great with his talent because he managed to reconcile two worlds that were yet angry at eachother: rap and electro.

Rohff said from Dj Mehdi that he was ahead of his time and it's true. Dj Mehdi's beats are still relevant today.

I find it sad that theses days when you talk to some kids out there who say they know French rap, they don't know a lot about this "Master".




Is there a particular song that inspired this wall?

During this week I listen a lot to  Brav "Error 404" album that greatly inspires me when I paint.


What is your favorite track from DJ Medhi?

In 2002, Rocé released his first album,"Top Depart" that contains the title "On s'habitue". For this single produced by Dj Mehdi, the instrumental has a small particularity: while the beat is present from the first seconds, the melody only starts after a good minute. Distinctiveness and openness Mehdi has, to take you and bring you to HIS universe.

Shoolboy Q © Hopare



Do you often create artworks inspired by music?

Yes I often create works inspired by music. Recently I also create a work related to the rapper Schoolboy Q. I come from the hip-hop culture and I was led to listen to a lot of French rap what led me to take the face of some French rappers as reference for my works such as Scar Logan and Brav.





Opening reception of this collaboration

29th September 2016 from 7pm

Ken Saro-Wiwa center / 63 rue de Buzenval 75020 Paris