Prior to World War I, Paris was enchanted with middle class conventions - the bourgeoisie, and its cultural and artistic values.  The Great War shattered that faith in the notions of civilization and progress.  It was devastating; it tore Western Civilization up by the roots and left the cultural landscape barren.  Searching for a culture that affirmed life rather than destroyed it, Europeans sought a new art form to express their disillusionment.  They found what they were looking for in the primitive: the gritty, the sensual, non-European “authentic.”  The war that brought about this shift also proved to be a vehicle for jazz, as African-Americans entered France as soldiers and stayed as musicians.

Today, France again faces a crisis, this time in the form of massive immigration that forces an acknowledgement of French identity in multicultural terms.  In response, mainstream French culture has embraced African American music - specifically, hip hop and gospel.  Projecting a hip hop image on black (African/French) immigrants makes them less threatening to dominant French society.

Jazz in the 1920s was centralized and localized in both production and performance.  It brought together in a physical way people from different classes and races in Montmartre.  Today, music isn't nearly as geographically dependent: it is disseminated over the airwaves, TV and internet, not physical locations. This allows the same music to reach a wide audience, both in the city and in banlieues.  It does not promote integration.

Whites co-opted jazz, making the need for African Americans obsolete. Jazz became a part of white Parisian musical heritage.  Mainstream Parisians have absorbed hip hop, but so have disenfranchised groups who use hip hop as a cultural mouthpiece for disenfranchised groups.  Hip hop can be either unifying or polarizing, it can be: a mode of communication, a political voice, apolitical, violent, and self-destructive.  As a result, hip hop speaks to two separate sides of French society which are increasingly opposed to each other.