Test your wits: can you pass the Maître Gims/Sexion d’Assaut Brevet quiz?

Bella for BrevetIn the past couple of days there have been rumours going around the Twitterverse, or at least the French part of it, that the lyrics to Bella by Maître Gims would be a comprehension text for this year’s Diplome National du Brevet. (You can hear the song on my post Sounds from France via Africa: three hits by Maître Gims). The circulation of a supposed picture of the exam paper (right) caused a French fracas.

While Bella is a decent enough song, to translate a quote on the subject on the Europe1 website, it “does not really lend itself to a test of French where one would expect to study Maupassant, Camus or Victor Hugo”. In other words: Quelle horreur! The lyrics by a rapper born in Zaire are suddenly worthy of serious study. The purists were choking on their cafés au lait and their croissants. (The Diplome National du Brevet is taken by students at the end of their troisième or “3eme” – the final school year before high school, their last year of compulsory schooling. More detail here if you need it).

Personally, though, if I was a student of that age, I’d rather have Maître Gims than Hugo on my exam papers. Unfortunately, or fortunately if you’re a purist, it was a hoax.

The weeks fly by fast. Once again Black M is top of the French singles charts – third week in a row now – with Sur Ma Route, while La Bande à Renaud have held on to the No. 1 album slot.

Maître Gims and Black M are members of a collective of mostly African-born singers known as Sexion d’Assaut, a group which, according to Wikipedia, distinguishes themselves by staying away from “bling bling” that other French rappers have adopted. Bernardo quite likes Maître Gims and Black M, and he tends to stay away from “bling bling” too, so he thought he’d investigate Sexion d’Assaut. This is what he found.

They had a No.1 hit in 2012 with this effort, which also features a great but bemused-looking string quintet playing in the background. What’s the symbolism? Not much bling bling here, grey is the colour. Are some of these rappers wearing cardigans!

That was taken from the album L’Apogée (a No.1 in both France and Belgium), which spawned other hit singles, including this one, which seems to have an educational theme. Are they sitting for their Brevet?

Ok, last song. The lyrics are on this clip. Study them carefully then answer the questions below to see if you are worthy of a diplome.

Diplome National du Brevet
Serie Generale
Session 2014
Epreuve de Franglais

  1. What do mothers, fathers, motherhood and fatherhood symbolise in this text?
  2. Write a 300-word Freudian analysis of the “Ohohohoh” refrain.
  3. Who would make a better rapper – Camus, Hugo or Maupassant?
  4. Does the French national football team wear too much bling bling?
  5. What problems do adults have? Limit your list to no more than 500 and offer solutions to half of them.
  6. Which comes first, the chicken or l’oeuf?
  7. The name Sexion d’assaut is a play on “section d’assaut” – the assault section (of a platoon etc). Think of 15 other words in which sec could be changed to sex and then use them to argue why we should make love, not war.
  8. Why do rappers flap their hands so much? Give your answers in sign language and post them on YouTube.
  9. Who should be the next white member of Sexion d’Assaut – Charles Aznavour, Plastique Bertrand, Gerard Depardieu, Renaud or Nicolas Sarkozy?
  10. Think of a 10th question then write it in the box below. Bernard’s grey cells have gone to sleep and the rest of his body wants to do the same. Bonne nuit!.



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