"Les Petits Chefs" was the debut album by PM, a hip hop collective from the suburbs of Paris, based around toaster & producer Little J (originally from the Reunion Island) and rapper Fresh Ali (who was born in Kabylia, the traditionally rebellious mountain region of Algeria).
After appearing at several major events such as Transmusicales de Rennes, the Attitude Festival in Montpellier, Stop La Violence, and opening for MC Solaar and others, PM released a couple of 12", the second of which quickly became an underground hit of sorts, thanks to a track entitled... "Les Petits Chefs" ("the small-time bosses"), to its infectious chorus and its sharp social satire (the song is about petty chiefs, frustrated bosses, hierarchy-obsessed characters we're all confronted with in everyday life). Not that there was any lack of satirical content in the B-side of that single ("D.A. Bah!"), which mercilessly derided the idiotic, well-dressed, half-deaf morons which can be found in the A&R departments of certain large record companies....
These two tracks are included in the album, along with a dozen other tales of everyday life: PM's lyrics tackle many aspects of life in the suburbs, they are sometimes very hard, but always full of humour and irony. PM don't preach : they stand back and describe. Check "Effet de Groupe" or "On Oublie Tout" (no translations supplied, unfortunately) for a great description of how idleness and peer pressure bring young kids to do stupid things... or "Illusions Perdues" which depicts an embittered old "overseas Frenchman" (from the ex-colonies) who spent a lifetime waiting for respect and integration... or the nasty verbal gang war between rival musical posses in the awesome "Je viens d'en bas"... a good dictionary will help, but won't suffice, as the lyrics are sprinkled with 'verlan', the slang commonly used by suburban kids, who create new words by switching around the syllables of the old words... (for ex. 'meuf' replaces 'femme', 'vailtra' means 'travail' etc).
Among PM's sonic trademarks are the contrasting vocal styles of their two main protagonists (Little J's melodic, creole-tinged toasting vs Fresh Ali's harder rapping), as well as their musical versatility and the relative austerity of the rootsy production style.