Aurélien Cotentin, better known by his stage name Orelsan, sometimes stylized as OrelSan, is a French rapper, songwriter, record producer, actor and film director. He has released four studio albums: his debut Perdu d’avance on 16 February 2009, his second album Le chant des sirènes on 26 September 2011 his third album La fête est finie on 20 October 2017 and his fourth album Civilisation on 19 November 2021. He is also one half of the French hip hop duo Casseurs Flowters, along with Gringe, with whom he has released two studio albums: Orelsan et Gringe sont les Casseurs Flowters in 2013, and the original soundtrack for their 2015 film Comment c’est loin.
Orelsan’s artistry and rapping technique has drawn him comparisons to American rap legend Eminem on several occasions, primarily because both are prominent white rappers and both are known for their ability to switch between or combine violent and comical rapping techniques.
Aurélien Cotentin was born on 1 August 1982 in Alençon in Lower Normandy, where he was raised by his father, a middle school principal, and his mother, a teacher. He initially listened to rock music and was also a fan of manga and comics. While practicing basketball, he picked up the love of rap through his basketball friends. Orelsan graduated with a French baccalauréat in Economic and Social Sciences before moving to Caen where he studied at l’École de Management de Normandie, graduating in 2004. While in college, he made friends with record producer Skread, who had worked with Diam’s, Booba, Rohff and Nessbeal. He also collaborated with Gringe in his initial works and formed the duo Casseurs Flowters with him in 2004.
Orelsan spent one year at the University of Tampa in Florida, where he had the inspiration of writing the song “50 pour cent”. In 2002, he issued a mixtape and was invited to contribute to various compilations. Returning to France and working the night shifts in a hotel gave him the opportunity to write more.
Talking about the latest years of his career it is important to mention that on 21 March 2015, Orelsan posted a photo of a script with the working title Orel et Gringe on his Instagram page. On 4 May, he posted another photo, this time of himself with Gringe in the film, confirming that shooting for the film was complete and that its title would be Comment c’est loin.
On 29 October 2015 Orelsan and Gringe released “À l’heure où je me couche” as a single from the film’s original soundtrack, which was confirmed to be released on the same day as the film. Both were released on 9 December and, like Orelsan et Gringe sont les Casseurs Flowters, received generally positive reviews from critics. Two more songs from the album, “Inachevés” and “Si facile”, also charted in France despite not being released as singles. The album was certified platinum in France in January 2017.
In April 2017, Orelsan announced that he and Gringe were working on their third and debut solo studio albums respectively, but did not reveal any release dates. On 20 September 2017 Orelsan released the first single from his third solo album, entitled “Basique”, along with its music video in which the album’s release date was revealed to be 20 October 2017. On 22 September 2017 Orelsan revealed the name of the album, La fête est finie, along with its cover art. On 20 October La fête est finie was released, to huge critical and commercial success. La fête est finie was nominated for IMPALA’s European Album of the Year Award.