Belgian artist Stromae uses his music as a mirror for society and a way to constantly reinvent himself.
The catchy beats, melodious tunes and the exquisite language of French music has slowly caught the ear of many around the world. Belgian musician Stromae (whose name is an anagram of the word “maestro”), winner of the coveted Victoire de la Musique and the NRJ music awards, is a steady but sure star who is constantly reaching new heights.
Stromae, or Paul Van Haver as is his real name, was born to a Belgian mother and a Rwandan father. His mother’s interest in and influence over Haver’s musical upbringing, particularly with Rwandan music, destined Stromae to be a prolific musician from a young age.
Although he grew up in a musical household with three brothers and one sister, all of whom were dedicated to the art in some form, Haver was the only one who truly accelerated his career in this respect. After interning at multiple French radio stations and releasing YouTube videos around 2010 about how he produced his music, Stromae slowly caught the attention of avid music enthusiasts. However, he really took off after the release of his first two singles, “Up Saw Liz” and “Alors en Danse.” These two hugely entertaining songs landed him a record contract for his first album, “Cheese.”
The crux of Stromae’s appeal lies in his efforts to bring awareness to persistent and pervasive social issues through his music. He wrote songs like “Quand c’est” and “Formidable” to raise awareness about alcoholism and cancer. The song “Papaoutai” from the album “Racine Carree” was written to share the stories of boys with absent fathers and how it affects them growing up.
As a person, Stromae is at once prideful and shy. In an interview with Elle magazine, he explicitly said “I am not an artist. I have a problem with that word. Words like artist and star put people on pedestals. I am just a musician.” And to that point, Stromae relies on his thought-provoking and urgent lyrics and a combination of diverse musical genres ranging from house to Jacques Brel for some hip-moving, arm-raising and euphoria-inducing music. Still, although Stromae’s music is in a class of its own, he doesn’t advertise. He is just a guy making music.
Content editor Krishna Pamidi is a sophomore studying finance at Syracuse University.