Providing the soundtrack to the style, MHD is a French rapper with an appreciation for a strong game. As the Paul Pogba capsule collection was launched from Colette, he led proceedings. Ahead of that, we caught up with this man with talent at the mic and a big football focus at the feet.
Can you remember a moment when football really grabbed you?
"I’ve been into football all my life but it was Euro 2004, Greece v Portugal. The final - for me that was something special and I remember that well."
What was it about the game? How much do you enjoy the creative side of what we see on the pitch?
"Today football is a game that is really linked to music and creativity. Especially when you look at the celebrations and the dances that players do on the pitch. It’s like a coming together of a lot of things I’m really into. The players in the dressing rooms, they sing songs and listen to rap music. So more and more, my kind of music is entwined with the game. So for me, it’s what I’m all about."
You have that track Roger Milla - what can you tell us about that? You’re obviously a fan of his moves by the corner flag?
"The song is a narration but I was just looking on YouTube and I came across the celebration of his in the corner. I saw it as a way represent what makes a great African player and the mix of my music, Afro-trap, with his dances moves. It mixes dancing with football together so well. It was pretty perfect."
If you were to celebrate out on the pitch, what would it look like?
"For me? Dab."
Your parents from Guinea and Senegal, you obviously have a big African influence. Have you got eyes on the African Cup of Nations?
"I’m trying to watch every match I can. My links with Africa are big and so this makes me a big big fan. I’m really into the tournament so will do all I can to watch as many as possible."
What teams are you looking out for in particular?
"Not so much just one team, I want to see all of them."
You were at the Man Utd / Liverpool game at Old Trafford on the weekend. How much did you enjoy the atmosphere?
"Yeah, that was my first time to see Manchester United play there. It’s super different to everything we are used to here. It’s incredibly impressive and it’s something you usually see on TV but to actually live it - it’s very impressive. It’s more friendly, though the atmosphere is a lot warmer and the fans sing from the beginning to the end. There’s so much passion. Every fault, every mistake - people are screaming and they’re so into it. They follow everything the players do and are just so involved in the whole thing."
What did you think of Manchester?
"To be honest, it was a quick trip - in and out. But I want to come back - I just need to be invited."
Having watched the players out on the pitch, do you see similarities between what you do out on stage and what they do when it comes to entertaining and performing?
"It’s kind of the same, I think that’s true but there’s definitely more pressure as a football player. When you’re in music, it’s not really a competition - it is what it is. Football has a whole other competitive edge - firstly the match you’re playing in but then the league, the trophies - all the pressure of the ongoing competition that you don’t have when you’re an artist. There’s less pressure for me."
Does that give you another level of respect for players?
"Oh yeah, I mean for them they’ve got to concentrate so hard. You’ve got to train so much and have a coach that demands the best. The whole regime that a player has is very complicated so yeah, I have a lot of respect for the players who do all of that."
In the way basketball crossed over into other places such as music and lifestyle and streetwear, can you see football doing the same now?
"I think maybe say five years ago, what you see now wouldn’t have been possible and wouldn’t have been cool. Things like the track pants, they’re super slim and comfy but look so cool. They’re inspired by tiro pants and you can wear classic sports clothes in street environments and football is a big part of that. I like it a lot."
What were your thoughts when you first saw this collection?
"Straight up, it was sick. Especially the t-shirt. It’s like a classic football shirt with the material but it’s something you could wear in a club easily."
What does the football shirt in general mean to you? Have you got a lot of time for them?
"They’re massive for me. I’ve got a huge collection of them. Hundreds of them. In every city that I’ve been to, there’s been a football player that has given me a jersey - I’ve been very lucky for that. For me though, one of my favourites is from Bayern Munich. I’ve got one from when the players came on stage with me. Ribery, Renato Sanchez, Alaba - they came on stage and then gave me the whole collection. Training stuff, the jersey - everything they could get for me - it meant a lot. They’re all at home but they mean a lot to me."
Talking Pogba. He’s a different kind of player for the modern game. What are the qualities you’ve seen in him that make him stand out?
"He’s natural at being different and standing out from the crowd. Whether it’s on or off the pitch, he is who he is. Naturally. Right now, he’s one of the top players in the world but he’s still just a great guy who likes to do stupid videos with his brothers just dancing, having fun. It’s impressive that he’s been able to stick to who he is while being one of the top players in the world."
You personally linking up with adidas, do you see them as a strong brand to keep making football more and more on point?
"Right now for me, what I see is something special. Whenever I have a new pair of shoes, so many people ask me what they are and where they can get them so everything seems to be making a big impact. The adidas tracksuit is really on trend and it looks like it is what everyone wants to wear right now. It’s amazing to see from where I am. I did a video recently and I was wearing the X16+ Ultraboost and the ZNE hoodie and all the comments were asking what I was wearing so clearly people are into that."
Paris as a city is pretty special. Especially for football. Having grown up here, how would you describe the scene here away from the pitch?
"There’s always more and more and the football culture is growing here. There’s always 5 on 5 under the subways and urban football is growing everywhere in Paris. It wasn’t the case before but it’s clearly growing here in a big way. One final question. 2016 was obviously a big year for you with your debut record dropping but how would you describe what you want 2017 to look? “La Puissance” - it means “the power”. That is what 2017 is all about for me."
Gold dust. Shop the collection here.