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Aya Nakamura, the quiet strength


INTERVIEW.- Aya Nakamura is back. Two and a half years after the release of Aya, the singer unveils her fourth solo album, entitled DNK. She tells us about her incredible success story which goes beyond the borders of France.





Jolie Nana



and as many hits by Aya Nakamura resound on the dancefloor, in the enclosures of the supermarkets and those of the rallies of the golden bourgeoisie.

For young people, Aya Nakamura, 27, is the next-door star.

A unifying voice that sings like they write the text messages - in a coded and polymorphic language, where spelling, grammar and syntax are cut and reassembled like


Compression series sculptures.

Between urban slang, internet lexicon, suburban jargon and expressions borrowed from many African languages, Aya Nakamura invents more flowery neologisms than any French rapper in an entire album.

The famous "You dead that"




or "I am in my behavior"




expressions taken up today by an entire generation.

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Read alsoThis night in court where Aya Nakamura and her ex-companion sealed their breakup against a backdrop of mutual violence

His texts - which have become a symbol of racial and social cohesion - amuse, touch and can sometimes annoy traditionalists.

Whether you like his songs or not, as well as verses like "I don't give a fuck, I need a real djo ("guy" in nouchi, Ivorian slang)", it's difficult to deny Aya Nakamura's gimmicky artistry and intuitive sense of catchy melody.

The Franco-Malian singer, naturalized French in 2021, comes from an oral tradition inherited from her mother, a former cherry.

To this, Aya Nakamura added her passion for R&B, the tempo of urban music and a talent for slammer 2.0 improvisation.

The Nakamura phenomenon catapulted us into an era dictated by current codes.

First of all, that of the numbers that the

music industry likes to trumpet and throw like scuds: 6 billion streams – the number of listens to Aya Nakamura's songs on music platforms.

880 million - views of the music video of the hit


on YouTube.

8 million subscribers on Spotify.

20 million followers on social networks (including nearly 2 million on Tik Tok).

On video, at Paris-Bercy, Alicia Keys invites her “sister” Aya Nakamura

Currently, Aya Nakamura is the most listened to French-speaking artist in the world.

Of its music, a journalist from the prestigious American daily newspaper

The New York Times

writes: “Its tempo, its rhythm, its scintillating synthesizers are full of energy and barely contained possibilities, like the start of a night.”


New Yorker magazine

has also just sent him an interview request.

The legend of Aya Danioko, her real name, begins under the sun of Bamako, where she was born in 1995, before emigrating to France in her early childhood, with her parents.

She landed in Aulnay-sous-Bois, in Seine-Saint-Denis, where she grew up with her four brothers and sisters "in the middle of the towers", she says.

From her first song posted, at 19, on Facebook to her worldwide fame, "there was only one step and a lot of perseverance", launches Aya Nakamura in an ironic tone at the start of the Parisian evening, not without apologizing for being late.

Fake eyelashes, fake nails, navel piercing… It would be easy to lock her up in this freeze frame.

However Aya Nakamura is much more complex and interesting.

His statuesque bearing and carriage of his head are almost intimidating.

self-made woman,

mother of two girls between 1 and 7 years old, she has built her path and earned her money - her "bif", as she claims - all by herself.

She is proud of it.

Behind her cheeky stream, Aya Nakamura is discreet, shy, suspicious.

She thinks a lot before answering and seems to have made the choice of humor, like an elegance that we adorn ourselves to brave bad times.

Cradled with mainstream sounds and rhythms from Africa and the Caribbean,


, the singer's fourth album, is superbly produced.

It comes out today and was announced alongside three concerts at the Accor Arena, all of which sold out in less than three hours.


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Lift me up

Miss Figaro.

What does the title of your album mean, DNK?

Aya Nakamura.

– This album tells me.

DNK is the contraction of Danioko, my surname.

I am proud of this name, of my heritage.

I come from a family of immigrants.

My parents are part of the first generation of Danioko who arrived in France.

It was not easy for them and for me either.

Don't forget that I grew up in an HLM.

I hope it will be easier for my children.

I like the idea of ​​being able to tell them one day that I succeeded on my own, that I can support them, just as I do today with my loved ones.

I have another life since my success.

Notoriety does not only have negative sides.

When you live in France, it is even very useful.

If I had been so famous in Mali, known as an Oumou Sangaré, I don't think my life would have changed so much.

Are your parents proud of you?

They listen to your music?

My mother knows all my songs!

This is the first of my fans.

My music is his hobby.

It's also because she was a griot and spent her life singing at weddings, parties and funerals.

My dad is different.

He lives far away and he is no longer on the reserve.

DNK 's songs

describe relationships between men and women who don't understand each other.

On Coraçon, you sing: “I prayed, asked to keep you in my life;

for nothing we only got confused, it was going too fast, there I did not get it”.

Is it an autobiographical album?

I wanted to talk about love.

I tell my story and a breakup that did not go as I would have liked.

It's a totally autobiographical album about a relationship.

I am a single woman, a mother, a lover.

I sing of emotions.

I created all these pieces by feeling, taking vocal or written notes on my iPhone.

I am a single woman, a mother, a lover.

I sing of emotions

Aya Nakamura

On some songs, we hear ternary rhythms that come from Africa and the Caribbean.

What were you looking for musically?

I wanted to work with beatmakers that I could feel comfortable with.

I have had problems in recent years finding collaborators to trust.

The problem with notoriety is that most people only see that.

I needed sincere people, as optimistic as me, who work on intuition and not on calculation.

I found them.

I know exactly what I want when I record an album.



, I was looking for dance music, colorful and above all with a lot of sweetness.

Was it difficult for you as a woman to manage to impose your choices and to be respected in the musical environment, which can be misogynistic?

Not anymore because I have the control and the chance to choose the people I want to work with.

But when I started I was young, new and naive.

Several times, I felt that men were trying to take over my ideas.

They took advantage of my feminine sensibility.

But you have to know what you want in the music business.

In this game, it's a bit like a jungle and we mustn't be too nice.

I think you have to know how to “prioritize”.

I see a lot of women around me who don't do it enough.

You have to be a little selfish.

Read alsoRosalía: “I let God guide me on the way”

What do you mean by "selfish"?

You have to think only of yourself and your own interests.

I see life like that.

Very early, I chose to be my own manager and to assume all my artistic choices.

How do we keep the dream dimension and spontaneity alive when we are in distrust?

Knowing how to choose.

I see myself as an intelligent woman who manages to keep a lot of perspective on everything.

I am very empathetic and I know immediately how the people in front of me feel.

I do things by feeling.

My albums, my family, my friendships, my fame… I manage everything on instinct.

You have used the term "celebrity" many times.

Is she a burden?

Yes, she is not easy to manage, especially when you have children.

I am a single mother of two girls that I have to protect: Aïcha is 7 years old and Ava, one year old.

To spend as much time as possible with them and take advantage of it, I do a lot of planning, I organize myself, I manage.

What do you tell the eldest, Aïcha, about your profession and your fame?

Aisha saw me start.

I was pregnant with her when I got my first record deal.

She was present many times during the recording of my albums and when we filmed the clips.

She came to my concerts.

She knows everything about my work as a singer.

I really share everything with Aicha.

We spend a lot of time on Tik Tok.

I watch news reports, music videos, dances... I surf.

I believe Tik Tok works because it's an app based on people's curiosity.

The singer unveiled her fourth solo album, titled




Do you realize that it is sometimes difficult to decipher what you say in your songs?

I didn't really invent a language;

I think there are plenty of people who speak like me, who come from the same culture and origins to whom I don't need to explain my lyrics.

On the track


, you sing, for example, “She tells me how you bomb”.

What do you mean ?

Comment tu bombes means “how you do the girl”.

How you bomb too much when you're doing the girl.

And then I sing “looks like you love the mood”, which means you love the moment.

You are right, many young people recognize themselves in your texts.

All the young people from the suburbs talk like that.

But not only them.

It's a whole generation.

We are many because social networks allow us to exchange, to open up.

This may be one of the reasons for your success.

What do you think ?


Today the communities mix.

There are a lot more crossbreeds.

It's true, we build bridges, we go fast, we communicate but do we really manage to express more complex thoughts in an SMS style?

I honestly don't know.

It is the evolution of the world in which we live.

Maybe I don't have enough perspective yet, but it's true that things are going faster and faster.

What kind of student were you in school?

I was average: half studious, half pipelette.

Today I want to learn.

I would like to start playing the piano because it is so soft.

When Alicia Keys puts her fingers on the piano, it's so beautiful.


Alicia Keys invited Aya Nakamura to sing Djadja in duet with her during her Parisian concert in 2022 at the AccorHotel Arena, editor's note


Do you sometimes have the impression of serving as a social elevator, of helping people to make their voices heard?

May be.

Probably one way or another.

I know a lot of women identify with me.

But that's not for me to say.

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Your music is very popular in the United States.

It must have made you happy to see that the New York Times, and soon the New Yorker, are talking about you...

Of course!

I am proud.

Anything positive written about me makes me happy.

Many recognitions have come to me from abroad.

But I can't say why.

It's amazing.

Do you regret the discrepancy between your fame and the lack of consideration accorded you in the past by the cultural elites in France?

Not necessarily because I grew up in minorities.

I am aware of what you are saying.

But I comfort myself in the idea that I know how to feel comfortable even without being recognized by everyone.

And then I don't give much thought to this question.

You embody the image of a strong and emancipated woman.

Do you think mentalities have changed?

Mentalities and


have undoubtedly changed, but people in general don't change much.

I see that women still have to fight to be independent, free and decide what they want to do with their bodies.

I chose to be free.

But I felt the critical gaze of some men, especially on social networks.

women still have to fight to be independent, free and decide what they want to do with their bodies.

I chose to be free

Aya Nakamura

Are you an easy target?

I have often been attacked on social networks.

Claiming to be sure of myself has complicated my life somewhere.

I repeat, for a woman, it is much more difficult to be respected than a man.

It has always been like this.

And then it's not just men who are critical.

There is also an even harsher and misogynistic style of women.

To say that all women are in solidarity with each other is quite false.

Yet singers of your generation, like Rosalía, Billie Eilish and Jorja Smith fight like you to put forward a very sensual image of themselves, which is not dictated by the look of a man, but by their desire.

You all seem to say: "I decide when and how I want to be sexy"...


It's very important to have this power, to take responsibility for yourself as a woman.

To love each other.

I love my body and I love showing it off.

I'm proud of myself and I think it's always very nice to see a woman worthy and proud of herself.

So you are fighting for the emancipation of women...

I know that I am a symbol, that many young women identify with me.

But, I fight for myself.

I'm just a singer.

I am not an activist.

DNK (Warner)

Aya Nakamura will perform in Paris from May 26 to 28, 2023

Source: lefigaro

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