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Panique Celtique

Manau's Celtic Rap, Breton Cultural Expression, and Contestatory Performance in Contemporary France

Charles R. Batson

The highly successful 1998 album Panique celtique launched the group of rappers known as Manau and their self-styled "Celtic rap fusion" onto the French musical scene, bringing Breton binious to join the beatboxes on France's hip-hop radio stations and concert stages. As they engage a strikingly heteroclite blending of both rap and Breton musical traditions, Manau's work configures a Celtic Brittany as a rich site of contestation and revalorization. This article traces histories of French-language rap and Breton musical expression and analyzes their politicized uses in their respective historico-cultural contexts. Concluding with an exploration of current questions concerning how the past informs the shape of present performance, especially in light of Breton cultural particularities, the author suggests that Manau's rapped Celtic stylings both occasion an interrogation of cultural identity through music and point to charged social meanings attributed to performed Frenchness and Otherness in early twenty-first-century France.