Adel Hammoud is a young French photographer who currently lives in Paris. He’s been learning Chinese for about 4 years. And besides movies and photography, Adel is also very interested in Chinese hip-hop culture.
It's awesome to do something creative with the language you are learning and this is exactly what Adel has done. He wrote a Chinese hip-hop song, and we have to admit, it's pretty cool!
ChineseFor.Us got in touch with Adel and asked him a few questions about his experience of learning Chinese, and his inspiration for writing the hip-hop song.
1. Can you tell us something about yourself?
Bonjour to everybody!
My name is Adel, I am a French guy born in Paris and grew up all my life in Nice (South) in a neighborhood called "Les moulins".
I am 24 years old. I love travel, art, good food, people, differences, growth, and for sure languages. I graduated from Nice University -- Foreign languages degree "English-Chinese".
2. How did you become a photographer?
Everything started with the dreams to become an actor.
I signed up for drama lessons with the hope to be cast for movies. But in France, movie production companies are all located in Paris, so I could not have casting opportunities.
I decided then to do a short movie, which was an awesome experience. It was my first time as director/actor, but I could not complete the final cut on the movie, because I was out of money and time.
In order to achieve one project and to increase my skills as a director, I should first increase my photography skill, because videos are made of pictures. I took my hood in pictures cause no one talks about it. It was my first official album and I was awarded an interview on local TV in just one week.
I kept playing with the camera, doing artistic projects and travel photography, or selling my services as a photographer or video maker.
At the same time, I started hip-hop music and kept training till now. At the time I was 18 years old.
I love all art in general, because each one has its own secret and allows one to share one's message, one's feelings or point of views in an original way, understandable by the world. For instance, photography talks to everyone on earth, one moment is forever.
Be able to communicate with everybody makes me feel free.
"I love all art in general, because each one has its own secret and allows one to share one's message, one's feelings or point of views in an original way, understandable by the world."
3. What motivated you to learn Chinese in the first place?
I started to grow an interest in learning Chinese when I was around 20 years old. Truthfully economic situation and opportunities were my main motivation. After that I lived in China for one year. And living in China made me realize how powerful China was.
Zhongwen looked very mysterious to me and I am too much of a curious guy, ha ha, I had to learn it!. I also like the specificity of this language to make hip-hop music.
4. How many places in China have you been to?
While living in China, I have only been to Beijing, Tianjin, and the Gobi desert of内蒙古(Inner Mongolia).
Currently, I am in Paris, France. I lived in China for one year, and studied at Beijing Language and Culture University (北京语言大学), learning Chinese every day. I have now reached HSK 5.
I had one incredible year over there, I have experienced a lot of things living in China and they gave me a lot of different feelings. I can't choose one, it would not be fair.
But one thing is really important, the language-learning path that requires us to think like a Chinese! Be curious and accept culture differences which is at the opposite of our accustomed culture. Be ready to be surprised by China, because it's a whole different world behind 长城 (The Great Wall).
5. Are you familiar with the Chinese hip-hop scene?
I am discovering Chinese hip-hop everyday, It's a new wave in 中国, highlighted by that TV show The Rap of China. I am following Jony J and other Rappers.
Chinese rap is in its infancy still but I think that time will show us it's potential.
6. Can you share with us something about the Chinese hip-hop song you wrote?
My inspiration (for the song) came from my last love experience.
The approach (of writing it in Chinese) is different, because I have to adapt the expression and be twice as careful because it is not my mother tongue.
The sounds of Chinese words are important also in my writing, and it needs concentration.
The aim is to get better lyrics song after song.
7. Any tips for Chinese learning students?
A lot of listening is necessary, it can be a podcast with real conversation of daily life, radio, or TV.
Learn the words step by step and keep a good rhythm. For example, 10 words per day. Practice those 10 words by talking with someone, understand their meanings and you move on .
Be focused. Read books with pinyin, one chapter per night is enough.
"Learn the words step by step and keep a good rhythm."