Bel Amour: “I Smoke” burrows its way into the psyche

Franck Keller Jr is a French House music producer based in Paris who goes by the name of Bel Amour. While studying at the school of Beau Art in Los Angeles, he released a track entitled “Bel Amour” which made it onto BBC Radio in 2001, as well as reaching 23 in the UK charts. This led him to take on the same moniker and go on to sign with the Tommy Boy label in NY. Bel Amour who continues to bring beats and mixes to popular clubs, also lends his talents to Hip-hop. He has just released the track “I Smoke” which will be followed by a brand new Hip-hop/Electronic album.

It’s ultimately unclear whether Bel Amour’s latest foray into electronic hip-hop madness should be interpreted as a moment of sublime existential awareness. What’s indisputable, however, is the efficiency at which the rhythmic expanse and lyrical theme of “I Smoke” burrows its way into the psyche.

The track utilizes harsh and sudden collisions of distorted keyboards and percussion briefly separated by intermittent anthemic vocals to heady and hallucinatory effect, where Bel Amour successfully embraces the majestic overtones usually associated with the electro sound.

On a palette as cluttered with ideas, maintaining thematic focus could have, in lesser hands, been tricky. But Bel Amour maneuvers through the artistic bedlam with such confidence that it’s not just easy to get swept up in his grand vision of the track, but to return for repeat listening.

“I Smoke” is a track that is warm, exhilarating, and incredibly uplifting. Throughout his career, Bel Amour has ploughed an independent and idiosyncratic furrow making music that draws on familiar genres and songs to create his own personal soundtracks to the future.

The inclusion of the rapping, and the theme about weed adds some extra gravitas to the song. In fact it spotlights weed. It’s about weed. It’s weedy. It reeks of weed! Which isn’t wrong. Not in the slightest. It is, after all, a track that holistically explores the concept of smoking weed, both from the perspective of those experiencing it and of those witnessing it. The flow and rhyme scheme is both energetic and smooth as the rapper glides through the verses.

This is, after all, is a Franck Keller Jr track, which means the number of stones he leaves unturned is negligible and the amount of emotion coursing through the song’s veins is immeasurable. Franck Keller Jr doesn’t play well in the average grey musical areas, because he understands that to be grey is to compromise. So when he makes a beat or produces a song he goes for capricious, awe-inspiring stuff like “I Smoke”.


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