“I still see him leaving in his twingo to play the security guard. Sometimes he worked at the Stade Vélodrome and patted people at the entrance. On Saturday, tens of thousands of people will be patted down to go see his concert, ”puts Michel into perspective. At 55, Michel knew Jul. It was his building neighbor. Same block, the 21st, him on the 3rd, Jul and his family on the first. “Well, I know Julien, not Jul…” Understand the child, the teenager and the man he has become; not the artist. Strolling through the small streets of his HLM Louis Loucheur complex, in the Saint-Jean-du-désert district, twenty small, well-kept four-storey blocks with a pretty alternation of white and ocher facades, Michel rewinds his memories.
“He drove me crazy”, “the truth is missing”
It’s been five years now that Julien Mari, the biggest French record-selling rapper, left his neighborhood for a villa that we imagine cozy in the surroundings of Marseille. “The truth is lacking in the city; he was bringing. Not only him, his family too, his brother, his mother…”, regrets Michel who used to hear the apprentice artist from his window. “He drove me crazy, but I always told his mother, who feared for his future, that he had a gift. Everyone here describes him as a huge hard worker, polite and friendly, discreet, reserved and almost unhealthily shy. “Frankly, a good guy”, summarizes Marie-Claude, 75, former president of the association of tenants of this city in the southern districts of Marseille where life is still good. In her phone, the lady searches and displays some photos of the neighborhood genius. She understands that he has gone elsewhere. “It was getting unmanageable. Girls came to sleep in front of the door of his block, ”says Marie-Claude. “Others came in and rang the bell on all floors,” adds Michel. “Besides, it’s like when you win the lottery. The first thing they tell you is to leave. But I’m sure he suffers from it. At first, he sometimes came back to sleep alone in the apartment which was still rented, but which the family no longer occupied. He needed this. »
Further in the district which has kept its soul of an old village stuck to Marseille for a time popular with the bourgeois and industrialists, the residents of the church square remember Jul and his team making “the òaï” (the bazaar in Provençal). “I’m a big mouth and I didn’t mind going to tell him,” says Michèle, an 85-year-old resident whose apartment is on the corner of the square. “Even one day I said to him: ‘stop with your firecrackers – he was making one – you are poisoning yourself there’”, laughs the Marseillaise. “Well, he always remained polite, he gently honked at me when he saw me during the day. »
“He makes his life, good for him”
The kids in the neighborhood also have their share of memories. Marlon, 15, takes the little ones on a scooter on this Wednesday afternoon while waiting to go to football. “He came each time with big cars, like Lamborghini. Once, he came back loaded with boxes full of clothes from his label, gold and platinum. He unpacked everything on the square and called everyone to help themselves. This generosity, this attention, also marked Michel. “With each new record, he slipped one into the neighborhood boxes. When he was shooting his clips here, at the end of the day, he would treat everyone to pizza,” he cites as an example.
Testimonies to the past that show that the rapper has definitely turned the page on his neighborhood. “We were there to give him strength at the start, now Julien is gone, he’s living his life, good for him”, soberly comment childhood friends. And despite his departure, no one here speaks ill of him. “In truth, he remains a local guy who has succeeded and who is a model. Even if he no longer comes, ”we conclude. Love, glory and memories, this is what remains in Saint-Jean-du-Désert by Julien Mari. Jul writes his story.