M'Roubaba chose the MC name Soprano, enamored with American TV's Tony Soprano, especially for the character's psychiatric explorations. The group built up instantaneous recognition, with two records to its credit, Enfants de la Lune and Block Party, both of which went gold in a matter of weeks upon release. As often happens with successful hip-hop groups, one member finds himself singled out as having solo potential. Soprano was solicited by a number of labels offering to help him release a solo disc. He tested the waters with the 2006 mixtape Psychanalyse Avant l'Album. The record's positive reception and enthusiastic label support convinced the artist that the time was right for his debut studio album. Puisqu'il Faut Vivre was released in March 2007, immediately landing on Billboard's European Top 100 and hitting the number two spot in the French album charts.
While inspired by the obvious big names of U.S. hip-hop, Soprano was also influenced by West African music and by some of the more conscious names of French rap, such as Fonky Family
. He aimed to present a more positive type of rap free of some of the more unsavory attitudes often associated with the genre. While a stopgap live album, Live au Dôme de Marseille, was released in 2008, he took his time with the studio follow-up, a dualistic concept double album, the first part of which, La Colombe ("The Dove"), did not drop until the end of 2010. The second part, Le Corbeau ("The Raven"), arrived a few months later. The albums did extremely well, both entering the top three; they were later combined and re-released as a double-CD package. Fans did not have to wait nearly so long for the next release, as the punningly titled E=2MCs, a collaboration with fellow rapper REDK
, arrived in 2012. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez & John D. Buchanan, Rovi