Relive Hippocampe Fou’s 2020 Sold Out NYC Show

A portrait from Brooklyn and Paris

Our “À Table series focuses on food, music and traditions from various places in the Francophone world, which is a fun way to connect with friends and practice our spoken French. “À Table” is the mealtime call to come to the dining table. We have been hosting friends for these meals around our own table, since 2018, and we share them here so that you can do the same. Bon Appétit!

To replay the event in your own home, we have a free playlist of his set, some notes on pulling together a Hippo-worthy apéro, and fun lyrical games to dive deeper into his music.

Banner art by ShinoArt.

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Au Revoir Hippo

Cultures Capsules was honored and totally pumped to present this apéro send-off show for Hippocampe Fou. Founder Megs had fallen hard for his music the year prior and even began translating it into English, for fun. So when he told her he wanted to gather friends and fans for an apéro show before heading back to France, she was all about it.

hippocampe fou live in a sold out new york show at littlefiedl
hippocampe fou live at littlefield 8-feb-20

While he enlisted some of his states-side musician friends for guest appearances, she came up with several games and activities to further open up his music to fans, new and old alike. Add in some apéro treats thanks to favorite local vendors like Runner and Stone, and Michel et Augustin, we had ourselves a fabulous, fun Cultures Caspsules-style event. The playlists, lyrical games, translations, and even a highlights video can all be found here so that you can relive the magic of that day.

hippocampe fou

Hippocampe Fou is a French rapper who is highly recognized for his fluid, ultra-fast flow which oscillates between spoken word and rap, as well as his ability to rap over any type of rhythm and bpm. With his Trilogy of three albums built around the water cycle, a musical in the works (“L’Odyssée d’Hippo”), numerous collaborations, and hundreds of gigs under his belt, he is a tireless artist.

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Setlist Playlist

Hippo’s setlist for this Brooklyn show included songs from his previous albums, new, as-yet unrecorded songs, some of his own freestyles and several freestyles from special guests. DJ Poska, keep all the beats on point while friends like Beat Assailant, Siba Giba of Get Open, The Feudal Pharaoh, Ilan Moss, and the stage debut of the incredible young Imran helped make it a show we would not soon forget!

This show-specific playlist is missing a few freestyles, guest appearances, and yet-to-be released songs, but I’ll add if/when they become available. You can also enjoy some favorite moments from the show on this montage.

highlights from the show

You can also check out his whole anthology, here.

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Your Aquatrip

Let’s dive into (pun intended) the music and album art of Hipppocampe Fou!

Hippocampe Fou means “crazy seahorse.”

In addition to many recorded collaborations, Hippocampe Fou has three solo albums, which he built as a trilogy around the water cycle. In his first album Aquatrip, he invites us to dive into his surrealistic underwater world. Then, mimicking the waters of the ocean evaporating, his second album – Céleste – is more spiritual, aimed at the seventh heaven. Lastly, following the rain as it falls to the ground and seeps deep into the earth, his third album Terminus is extremely introspective, taking us with him as he digs deep inside himself and his feelings. Terminus is where we find the song “Le Mal du Pays,” which we dive into in more depth below.

With this activity, we invited concert-goers of all ages to look into their own imagination and draw what their Aquatrip might look like.

aquatrip activity at hioppocampe fou live in nyc

You can download the printout from our Etsy shop, here and have fun imagining your own undersea adventures, whether visual or lyrical.

aquatrip dreaming games at hippoccampe fou live nyc show
creating our own aquatrips

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Lyrical MadLibs Games

If you didn’t grow up playing the silly-fun-for-all-ages MadLibs like we did, you can learn more here, or just download the game which has instructions and examples. Bonus: it’s a sneaky good way to brush up on parts of speech in another language as well.

In this game, we have created a version of MadLibs, using the fabulous lyrics of Hippocampe Fou! This game is based off both his song “Le Mal du Pays,” as well as the poetically & melodically translated English version, “Homesick.”

The full lyrics in both English and French are included in the next section to enable comparison across languages and provide context for the game. It is also included in the printable download from our Etsy shop. You can have a blast playing this over and over again. Extra points for singing back along with the melody of the song!

mad libs using original and english lyrics of hippocampe fou's le mal du pays homesick
hippocampe fou madlibs

At the show we also created a photobooth to let us superimpose ourselves onto his Céleste album cover art. You could do something similar with a some foil, string and scissors!

album cover photobooth at the hippocampe fou live in nyc show
céleste album cover photobooth

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English Version of “Le Mal du Pays”

Already an obsessed fan of Hippo, Cultures Capsules founder Megs began translating his music to English as a way to practice her French. This quickly became her new favorite challenge: the word game of translating French songs into English. This isn’t a simple Google translate; it’s creatively maintaining the poeticism (both the artistic intent and rhyme structure), as well as the melody (to fit back into the song cadence). Her favorites get taken a step further: an acoustic guitar accompaniment.

Here is a side-by-side of both sets of lyrics, and hiding below, you’ll find videos for each.

Le Mal du Pays
Original Lyrics per Genius
Homesick
Poetic & Melodic Translation by MK
J’arpente des rues remplies de grands blocsWalking amidst towers I am small
Y’a des gens partout mais je m’en moquePeople all around, but none to call
C’est la solitude qui m’escorteAll alone and climbing up a wall
Ça fait bizarre d’être un exilé à New YorkIt’s New York, but am I really here at all?
J’ai laissé à Paris quelques notesNot in Paris, Toto, anymore
Mon père, ma mère, ma sœur et mes potesMiss mom, dad, sister and my friends galore
J’aimerais qu’ils viennent frapper à ma porteWish they could come a-knocking on my door
Qu’ils arrivent par surprise, qu’on boive et puis qu’on sorteDrop in, hangout, and go, I’m not asking for more.
[Chorus]
J’ai changé de terrierThis place is not for me
Pris un vol long courrierA long way over the sea
J’suis parti sans pleurerFrance is home; she calls to me
Sans réaliser qu’j’me sentirai isoléI’m so alone, how could I not even foresee
Que des factures dans ma boîte aux lettresInbox overflowin’ just with bills
Quelqu’un m’écrira, un jour, peut êtreA letter from a friend? I’d be so thrilled
Depuis qu’j’ai installé internetOn the internet ’till i am filled
J’fais croire à tout l’monde que je mène une vie parfaitePretending my whole life is perfect, and I’m chill
Je n’suis pas à plaindre, c’est un faitI’m not complaining, it’s a simple fact
Quand j’ai envie d’aller faire la fêteEven when I party, man it’s whack
J’m’achète un paquet de cigarettes (treize dollars)I buy myself some cigs in a whole pack (thirteen bucks?!)
Et, tout en regardant les passants, je végèteAnd sit there, watching super quiet from the back
[Chorus]
Outre Atlantique, y’a des femmes très bellesAcross the ocean, gorgeous women wink
Je me rince l’œil, mais je suis fidèleI catch their eye but don’t give it a think
J’ai pris du bide et de la bouteilleJoint and bottle, hear those glasses clink
Il n’y a plus que mes enfants qui m’émerveillentMy kids don’t wanna see their papa on the brink
Certains diront qu’j’suis en dépressionPeople say i’m on the down and out
Qu’on oublie tout après deux pressionsI should forget, move on and stop my pout
Ceux qui vivent loin d’chez eux comprendrontBut expats like me know what it’s about
Tout reconstruire, c’est plus long qu’écrire une chansonMe build a life here? Songs are easier to spout
[Chorus]
Ici, j’n’ai pas l’droit de travaillerSays Uncle Sam: “you can’t make a ‘dollah”
J’suis redevenu papa au foyerStay at home dad, that’s it, and “et voilà”
J’vais finir obèse ou décharnéi’ll be bones or fattened like fois gras
Ma fille parle anglais mieux que moi, j’suis dépasséMy kids speak English better than their own papa
J’veux m’balader, la nuit dans ParisDreams of nights in Paris, a mean trick
Du bon fromage avec mes amisCheese with friends; the stuff that makes me tick
%#?& le blizzard, j’veux qu’on m’rapatrie%#?& this place and get me home so quick
Je crois bien qu’j’ai c’qu’on appelle “le mal du pays”OK, It’s true. I’m done. I’m out. I’m just homesick.

First is the awesome music video of “Le Mal du Pays” that he shot and edited himself in NYC.

Next is just a quick recording homage of the “Homesick” version which Megs recorded to share with Hippocampe Fou as an homage, long before the show. At the 8-Feb show, Megs did join Ilan Moss (accordion) to sing this as a final funny, chanson-style version, but mercifully there is no good recording of that “performance” (Megs picked up guitar only recently, and her audience is typically only her kids).

recipe

Apéro

At Cultures Capsules, we like our events and portraits to feed all of our senses, so to accompany the music and lyrical games, we also provided some typical apéro treats.

For the uninitiated, apéro is the lovely French tradition of a wine/light cocktail and small bites in the late afternoon / early evening. Typical drinks include apéro cocktails or French wine.  

If you were at a bistro with Hippocampe Fou, you would likely be enjoying prosecco along with saucisson, cheese and baguette.

For the show we provided all the most typical foods including French cheeses, saucisson, pâté, rillettes, crudité, cornichons… and of course some delicious baguettes from Runner and Stone (thank you for donating all of the baguettes!). There were french wines, aperol spritz and Shirley Temples for the kids, and a full bar to drink comme vous voulez.

apéro snacks for hippocampe fou show

Thanks also to Michel et Augustin who gave us a great discount on the many boxes of chocolatey cookie treats that were also a nod to the “kids version” of an apéro; the after-school goûter (the often sweet, after-school snack especially enjoyed by kids).

Bonus

Au Revoir Brooklyn!

Before Hippocampe Fou left Brooklyn, he recorded this amazing freestyle, in English!

Make sure you follow Hippocampe Fou on his YouTube channel so you can keep up with all his latest genius!

Can’t wait to see you back in Brooklyn, Hippo!