“Are you giving him 100k? “, rapper Shay asks her colleague Niska, speaking of the young man who has just rapped in front of her. In a tight dress, sitting between the Marseillais SCH and the Parisian Niska, the Belgian artist thinks out loud when it comes to making a choice. Shay is the scathing juror of the Netflix series, New School. “100 k” is 100,000 euros, the sum that one of the twenty-five candidates in this telecrochet devoted solely to rap will win. “A Hollywood budget,” says SCH.
This is not the first time that rap actors have participated in this kind of show to “find the new nugget”. Former record company bosses had already been on the jury, such as Benjamin Chulvanij in “Popstars”, on M6, in 2007; JoeyStarr paralyzed young people in a similar France O show, “Talent Street,” in 2015. However, this is the first time that the well-honed and worn format of telecrochet has been devoted entirely to rap.
From the second episode, Netflix circumvents the first difficulty (understanding the texts of the free-styles) and systematically subtitles all the candidates. The three jurors, real stars each representing a pole of French-speaking rap (Paris, Marseille and Brussels), lent themselves perfectly to the game.
SCH, which almost everyone calls “The S”, is very educational. Niska deploys a mad energy to put her fellow apprentices at ease, and Shay, self-proclaimed “Pretty Bitch”, brings the necessary spice to not be bored. They are looking for young rappers, “deter” (meaning “determined”), as they say, who will know how to overcome their stress, have “attitude”, because, says Niska, “rapping well is no longer enough”.
In the first two episodes, the jurors audition each of the candidates in their city, who come to debit their texts in front of them and their friends. Hard, especially when the Marseillais is surrounded by other local stars: Jul, Soso Maness, L’Algérino, first at the Stade-Vélodrome, in a luxury villa or at Soprano’s manager.
Niska remains in Evry, surrounded by his friends. Tough test for the young candidate Leys, 22, who does not disassemble. Niska warns: “You know, it’s hard for a rapper, it’s a shark environment, it’s very masculine” – but chooses her anyway. In Brussels, Shay claims to want to mount “[her] army of pretty bitches”.
The concept could quickly go round in circles, but the young rappers in competition save the program with their freshness, their rage to win these famous “100k”. For STLR, 25, going back “pulling pallets, carrying crates of tomatoes” is out of the question. It’s not shot like 8 Mile (2002), Curtis Hanson’s film about American rapper Eminem, but the point remains the same.