Childhood & Early Life
Maître Gims was born on 6th May 1986, in Kinshasa, DR Congo, as Gandhi Bilel Djuna. He belongs to a musical family. His father, Djanana Djuna ,sang for the Papa Wemba's band while his brothers Dadju, Bedjik and Xgangs are also rappers.
When he was just two years old, the family immigrated to France. He was initially placed in foster care and then spent his childhood in squats along with his family.
He pursued graphic arts from French University for two years, but then left it to focus on music.
He took up Maître Gims as his stage name. He other names include ‘Gims’, ‘Meugui’ and ‘Meugiwarano’.
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Maître Gims set out on his musical journey while he was still in high school. He joined the French hip-hop band ‘Sexion d'Assaut’ (formerly 3rd Prototype) in 2003 and recorded his first track – ‘Coup 2 Pression’ – with them.
Along with a number of independent releases, he released a mixtape, ‘La Terre du Milieu’ (Middle-Earth) with 3rd Prototype in 2005. The cover of the mixtape was designed by Gims himself.
Apart from recording tracks, he engaged himself in the underground Parisian rap battles and won the 12 Inch'All Star.
In December 2006, he released his first maxi single ‘Pour ceux qui dorment les yeux ouverts’ (For those who sleep with open eyes).
In 2008 and 2009, he worked with 3rd Prototype in the new street album called ‘Le Renouveau’ (The Rebirth) and ‘Head Crush’.
In 2010, Sexion d’Assaut released the album ‘L'École des points vitaux’ in which Gims was credited as author, composer and performer. In 2012, they released another album ‘L'Apogée’. Both these albums became diamond disc.
In 2011, he worked with his father Djuna Djanana in his new album. In the following year, he came up with his comic book ‘Au cœur du vortex’ (In the Heart of the Vortex) and announced the launch of his own clothing line ‘Vortex VX’.
In 2013, he founded his own record label ‘Monstre Marin Corporation’ which was affiliated to Universal Music France.
In May 2013, he released his debut solo album ‘Subliminal’ with 18 tracks. He himself did the lyrics of the tracks while the music was done in association with Renaud Rebillaud and Stan-E Music. Apart from him, the album featured songs by his three brothers as well as other artists like Pitbull and H Magnum.
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The album was majorly promoted by Gims in a video ‘Welcome to the Wa Part. 4: La Consécration’. This was backed by the release of six unpublished material called ‘Ceci n'est pas un Clip.’
In the first half of March 2013, he released a couple of tracks from the album as pre-releases. The first one was "Meurtre par strangulation" (M.P.S.) while the second one, which grabbed the top spot at the SNEP official French Singles Chart, was ‘J'me tire’.
Upon its release, the album garnered appreciation as well as commercial success. It ranked second in the French album charts and first at the Belgian chart. It also did pretty well in Switzerland.
A second edition of the album ‘La face cachée’ (The Hidden Side) was released in December 2013 with six new tracks. The album was released by record labels, Wati B and Jive Records. Within two years, more than 1,000,000 copies of the album were sold in France only. The track ‘Bella’ became hugely popular attracting millions of views.
In 2013, he went on to perform his very first solo concert in Olympia. He also participated in the Urban Peace concert with the Sexion d'Assaut. The event has a series of hip hop concerts organised around France. The same year, Maître Gims came up with a single ‘Game Over’ with the French Singer Vita. The track topped in France.
His second album ‘Mon cœur avait raison’ (My heart was right) was released in 2015 by Wati B and Jive Records. The album reached the peak position of number one in 2015 Ultratop Belgian Albums and SNEP French Albums charts as well as third in Schweizer Hitparade Swiss Albums chart.
In the year end charts, ‘Mon cœur avait raison’ figured in the top 20 of Belgian (Wallonia) and Danish Albums Chart (Hitlisten) as well as top 40 of the Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade) Chart. Few singles from the albums that became popular include ‘Est-ce que tu m'aimes?’, ‘Laissez passer’, ‘Brisé’ and ‘Sapés comme jamais’.
In 2016, he released the new edition of Mon cœur avait raison’ called ‘A Contrecoeur (Pilule Violette)’ with seven new tracks.
His third album ‘Ceinture noire’ (Black Belt) came out in March 2018 and it featured 40 songs. It included tracks by host of other artists like DJ Super Sako, Spitakci Hayko, Lil Wayne, Sofiane and Vianney. This album too was a big success. It bagged the top spot at SNEP French charts for eleven weeks.
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In February 2019, he decided to drop ‘Maître’ from his stage name and go ahead with just ‘Gims’. He announced this on his Instagram account.
A year later, Gims released another edition of the album with additional 13 songs in association with artists like Maluma, J Balvin, Vitaa and Sting. His own brother Dadju also worked on the album which was called ‘Transcendance’.
In his career, Maître Gims has featured in the albums of other artists as well. These include albums by Colonel Reyel, Stromae, Booba and Lacrim.
His three solo albums have been instrumental in establishing him as a star. All three achieved Diamond certification in France. Additionally, his second album was also certified Platinum in Belgium, Denmark and Switzerland.
His singles from these albums also gained a lot of popularity. His track ‘J'me tire’ from his first album topped SNEP official French Singles Chart for four weeks while his track ‘Est-ce que tu m'aimes?’ (Do you love me?) from the second album ranked number one in Italy, number two in Belgium and number three in France in the weekly charts.
Similarly, his duet song with Vianney ‘La Même’ from the third album reached the top spot in the French and Belgium weekly chart and bagged the top spot in the Belgium year end chart. The song also became the most played song in France in 2018.