We know nothing about the French brothers that make up the rap duo PNL, and neither do the millions of people who watch their videos on YouTube. The pair, believed to be from the south Paris banlieue of Corbeil-Essonnes, has never given an interview. They shun the press, shrug off label interest, and communicate with fans only in the form of cheerless songs and populist videos promoted via social media. In PNL's music—and in their attendant documentary-style clips—the pair recreates the feeling of futility that they suggest comes with life in the suburbs of France: heavy Auto-Tune, slow-moving beats, and sardonic lyrics peppered with slang and Arabic have become their calling card. Last year, after the video for "Le monde ou rien" made the rounds on social media, PNL began to amass a global following in their home country and beyond.
To shoot the video for "La vie est belle," premiering today on The FADER, PNL hopped on a flight to Namibia, where they roamed Martian-like landscapes under the creeping gaze of some aerial drones. The effect is a vast, gorgeous rendering of the existentially probing nature of their music. Life is beautiful, they suggest ironically in the song's title, but it's also hell.
Watch "La vie est belle" above and then catch up to PNL with a couple other videos below.