Now this is a piece of music I stumbled upon by pure chance. But I figured “hell, why not” and now I’m thanking myself for stepping outside my box for once.

Clotaire K is an MC, producer and musician (as in “real instruments”) from Montpellier, France, and the son of a Lebanese mother and an Egyptian father.

This is his entirely self-produced debut album, recorded mainly in Montpellier, which is in the South of France, but a few tracks were made while on holiday in Lebanon. In fact, the whole album has a distinctly international feel, even though we can hear Near Eastern instruments on most of the tracks, laced with classic hip-hop beats on one, drum’n’bass-type sped-up beats on another and then again, on the next track, beautiful and subtle compositions in the tradition of Middle Eastern folk music, all produced and played by the man himself.

Clotaire had spent a year in the States before returning to France to start recording this album over the course of six years. The lyrics range from English to French and Arabic, although I must say that there’s a clear difference in quality between his slightly wooden verses in English and his tight delivery in French and Arabic. Subject matter is mostly about personal and social issues, making comments on people’s fate in the Near East, on his family and on music itself, of course.

I’ll admit it. I’d never heard of this guy until a few weeks ago, when I spotted the CD in the city library. I didn’t expect too much when I started listening. But now I know I’ll definitely be keeping an eye open for this cat. He’s quite likely one of my great discoveries of last year. And if you can’t be arsed to listen to something you don’t understand, just play the last two instrumental tracks called Emigrate (Remix) and Takassim. Pure musical genius.


This is a fresh rip without the glitches that the previous one had. Apologies.

Clotaire K – Lebanese (2002)

01. Maqam
02. Beyrouth Ecoeuree
03. Moolook
04. Wahad
05. Ya Saryan
06. Bokra
07. Papa
08. Beep
09. Lubnan
10. Banadoora
11. Flotte
12. Le Criminel
13. Laisse Les
14. Bif Bam Boom
15. Tampooshy
16. Emigrate
17. Takassim
BBC Radio Review Review

Salaam, 9@home