Rising French rap star MHD charged with murder over deadly gang brawl
French police recently arrested MHD, one of the most successful rappers in France in connection with the murder of a 23-year-old Cameroonian in Paris last July. Mohamed Sylla (artistically known as MHD), who shot to fame with a catchy blend of west African music and southern US-style hip-hop has, however, denied any involvement in the death of 23-year-old Loic Kamtchouang, who was beaten and stabbed to death on July 6 last year.
The rapper was detained along with three other suspects who were also involved in the incident. A police source described the fight involving around a dozen youths as a “settling of scores” between gangs from Paris’ 19th district, where Sylla grew up, and the adjacent 10th district.
Sylla’s car was reportedly seen at the scene of the fight. His lawyer Elise Arfi, however, said the vehicle was used by other “individuals identified by investigators as the perpetrators of the deadly attack”.
She claimed her client had “never been involved in conflicts between rival gangs” and had made contact with investigators in July “as soon as he became aware” of his car’s use in the attack.
She also said she would seek to have him freed from custody, noting he had no prior convictions.
MHD, music and football
The football-mad performer, who was born in France to Guinean and Senegalese parents, is best known for “Afro Trap Part. 3 (Champions League)”, a song in praise of Paris Saint-Germain football club, which has been viewed over 100 million times on YouTube.
Most of his music videos are relatively low-budget affairs, shot among the high-rises of the 19th district — of which he sees himself as a youth ambassador — and feature local youths in football jerseys dancing in the street.
One of his albums is called “19” and the cover shows him pictured from behind wearing a football jersey marked MHD 19.
Sylla prides himself on injecting African sounds and slang into his lyrics.