Suprêmes: why did the NTM group break up?

Return on the causes of the separation of the group NTM and on their career after the events of their youth recounted in the film “Suprêmes”, currently in the rooms.

Suprêmes: why did the ntm group break up?

The film Suprêmes, which traces the early years of the rap group NTM, ends with a legendary concert for fans: the Zénith on January 24, 1992. Olivier Cachin, music journalist and biographer of NTM, was in the room and remembers:

This is a historic moment for several reasons. This is the first time that a French rap group has invested in such an important stage: 6,000 people (…) and also because a concert lasts 1h30, 1h40 minimum, and here we are facing a group that barely has an album, just released a few months ago.

To meet the challenge, Kool Shen will therefore take matters in hand: “he tried to succeed in making a real show with … ten songs. So the break DJ, the dancers, find new sequences, run the songs in an efficient way and make sure that the public Get its money’s worth, I was there and I can tell you that in terms of scenography (…), it was incredible for a group which a few months before was still in dilettante “.

“You have to give back to Kool Shen what is in Kool Shen, he’s the one who has this obsession with perfection, to do something that holds up, and he gets there with work, with hours and hours to go. repeat, to take the lead because he is very anxious and to finalize this impressive scenography and this intro with Excalibur! “

“Police, brain brain machine”

After this Zenith, NTM is already an essential rap group. A little more than a year passes then, before it comes out 1993 … I pull the trigger, the band’s second album. One finds there in particular the “anti-cop” firebrand Police, social questioning Who will pay for the damage? and the subject of suicide with I pull the trigger, but the album does not meet the expected success. it will not become cult until 1997, the date of its reissue.

Two years go by, punctuated by a performance at the Palais des sports and a duet with Raggasonic on their title Sharp as a blade, before the release of a new album: Paris under the bombs, in 1995. Exit DJ S, the group’s historic DJ for “lack of productivity” (according to Kool Shen in Supreme NTM by Olivier Cachin) and welcome several composers including former members of the Assassin collective.

“Take us a little more, a little more seriously”

This third album is carried by several singles that have become classics, including What are we waiting for, call for insurrection against state repression and a society that despises suburban minorities. The title recalls – intentionally or not – the What are we waiting for to be happy by Ray Ventura, released in 1938. Another era, another atmosphere!

Also included is a single loved by most fans and Kool Shen: Fever. The title will often be absent from the group’s returns on stage because JoeyStarr will oppose it, recalling that the title was born as a challenge to make a song that could go on the radio, nothing more. It will indeed go around the airwaves, becoming the first “mainstream” success of NTM.

Finally, the album allows itself Everything is not so easy, title revisiting the origins of French hip-hop and the beginnings of the group, including the confusion between its two main stars: “There was no rule, no law / No above all no contract / No problems between you and me / Everything was clear, from goal to way”. The album contains other legendary titles such as Paris under the bombs (of paint!) or the light Pass pass the oinj.

“But today I’m afraid, because the clock has turned, has turned …”

1998 is a great year for French rap, because a number of legendary albums were indeed released during this period. In February, Kool Shen adds a producer cap for the debut album of Busta Flex, rapper he meets in the halls of the Sony label. There is a “prod” signed JoeyStarr as well as a featuring with NTM and two months later comes out Supreme NTM, the band’s new (and last) studio album.

Cult from its first second to its last, the disc contains a multitude of flagship titles such as Back in the bins, Do not let your son hang, That’s My People Where Seine-Saint-Denis Style. The huge carton will be My Benz, in duet with Lord Kossity, who will flood the radios barely a month before their concert at the Zénith, of which Busta Flex and Zoxea provide the first part.

“You little man the dark part of the Nique Your Mother? Stop or I will meet!”

Two singles from this album were released in 1999, That’s My People and Put down your gun but several concert dates (including a Parc des Princes) were canceled due to JoeyStarr’s legal troubles. In addition, the two artists have each created a rap label: IV My People for Kool Shen and BOSS for JoeyStarr.

The separation comes the same year by Kool Shen, who announces that he wants to take a break. The duo no longer hang out together, do not have the same entourage or the same centers of interest. The more time passes, the more JoeyStarr’s presence on NTM’s albums diminished due to his lack of studio presence.

But the music continues: Kool Shen releases Zoxea’s solo album My turn to shine and mixtapes of its collective, where BOSS relies more on the compilations, the first of which allows the general public to discover Sniper, which will become a major group of the decade to come.

In 2000, the album of the concert at the Zénith given two years earlier was released, and in parallel the documentary Authentic, behind the scenes of the tour, directed by Alain Chabat and Stéphane Begoc. Last project labeled NTM, the album The Clash sees the BOSS and IV My People teams remix old titles of the group and is released in 2001.

“Any attempt showed us that we really had too much ego”

Then the artistic separation is consummated. Everyone goes to take care of their own label: Joey and BOSS host nocturnes on the specialist radio station Skyrock and “Kool le Shen” launches into IV My People. Success will not be regularly at the rendezvous, and he will decide to go out of business in 2005 and JoeyStarr will do the same with BOSS in 2013.

Suprêmes: why did the ntm group break up?
IV My People / BOSS

The cover of the first solos of Kool Shen (2004) and JoeyStarr (2006)

“Kool Shen or JoeyStarr solo, it’s the same problem as Roger Waters or Mick Jagger, it may well be the instigators of a huge thing, when there is not the brand, the name, the public says” it’s good, but it’s not the same “, summarizes Olivier Cachin. “Both are great artists, there are great songs, but there is no solo what there is when they are together.” And drive the point home:

One without the other, they are great artists, but one with the other is NTM.

Everyone therefore evolves on their own. Didier Morville made a place for himself as a film actor and Bruno Lopes in the biggest poker competitions, each continuing to release solo albums at the same time.

“We grew up together, we built together”

Despite their quarrel and some clashes by media or parts interposed, they reformed NTM in 2008 the time of several concerts in Bercy then of a tour entitled “We are still there”. NTM becomes the first rap group to fill the Parc des Princes and welcomes the new generation with the group Sexion d’Assaut in the first part. The success is colossal, as Olivier Cachin recalls:

That a group that disappears for ten years reform and do 5 Bercy when they have no new album, there is no precedent, especially in a music like rap which is music by the instant.

Again, eight years passed before in 2018, a new tour was announced in addition to two unreleased tracks: On the flag featuring with Sofiane and Mosh Pit for which they work with the FFB collective and find Lord Kossity. These concerts are supposed to be NTM’s “Der”, but as Olivier Cachin says:

As long as there is life, there is hope, and it is never excluded that there will be a return, whatever the protagonists say, who have spent years saying that they would never get back together. (…) You should never believe an artist who says “it’s over, we’re leaving”.

Interview by telephone on November 19.

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