Our weekly “À Table”dinner series gets its name from the mealtime call to the dining table. Since 2018, we have invited friends new and old to share a meal focusing on food, music and traditions from various places in the Francophone world. It has proved a fun way to connect with friends and practice our spoken French. Here, we share portraits of some of our favorite meals 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
You can also check out his whole anthology, here.
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.
You can download the printout from our Etsy shop, here and have fun imagining your own undersea adventures, whether visual or lyrical.
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!
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!
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
Poetic & Melodic Translation by MK
|J’arpente des rues remplies de grands blocs||Walking amidst towers I am small|
|Y’a des gens partout mais je m’en moque||People all around, but none to call|
|C’est la solitude qui m’escorte||All alone and climbing up a wall|
|Ça fait bizarre d’être un exilé à New York||It’s New York, but am I really here at all?|
|J’ai laissé à Paris quelques notes||Not in Paris, Toto, anymore|
|Mon père, ma mère, ma sœur et mes potes||Miss mom, dad, sister and my friends galore|
|J’aimerais qu’ils viennent frapper à ma porte||Wish they could come a-knocking on my door|
|Qu’ils arrivent par surprise, qu’on boive et puis qu’on sorte||Drop in, hangout, and go, I’m not asking for more.|
|J’ai changé de terrier||This place is not for me|
|Pris un vol long courrier||A long way over the sea|
|J’suis parti sans pleurer||France is home; she calls to me|
|Sans réaliser qu’j’me sentirai isolé||I’m so alone, how could I not even foresee|
|Que des factures dans ma boîte aux lettres||Inbox overflowin’ just with bills|
|Quelqu’un m’écrira, un jour, peut être||A letter from a friend? I’d be so thrilled|
|Depuis qu’j’ai installé internet||On the internet ’till i am filled|
|J’fais croire à tout l’monde que je mène une vie parfaite||Pretending my whole life is perfect, and I’m chill|
|Je n’suis pas à plaindre, c’est un fait||I’m not complaining, it’s a simple fact|
|Quand j’ai envie d’aller faire la fête||Even 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 végète||And sit there, watching super quiet from the back|
|Outre Atlantique, y’a des femmes très belles||Across the ocean, gorgeous women wink|
|Je me rince l’œil, mais je suis fidèle||I catch their eye but don’t give it a think|
|J’ai pris du bide et de la bouteille||Joint and bottle, hear those glasses clink|
|Il n’y a plus que mes enfants qui m’émerveillent||My kids don’t wanna see their papa on the brink|
|Certains diront qu’j’suis en dépression||People say i’m on the down and out|
|Qu’on oublie tout après deux pressions||I should forget, move on and stop my pout|
|Ceux qui vivent loin d’chez eux comprendront||But expats like me know what it’s about|
|Tout reconstruire, c’est plus long qu’écrire une chanson||Me build a life here? Songs are easier to spout|
|Ici, j’n’ai pas l’droit de travailler||Says Uncle Sam: “you can’t make a ‘dollah”|
|J’suis redevenu papa au foyer||Stay at home dad, that’s it, and “et voilà”|
|J’vais finir obèse ou décharné||i’ll be bones or fattened like fois gras|
|Ma fille parle anglais mieux que moi, j’suis dépassé||My kids speak English better than their own papa|
|J’veux m’balader, la nuit dans Paris||Dreams of nights in Paris, a mean trick|
|Du bon fromage avec mes amis||Cheese 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).
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.
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.
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).
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!