Gandhi Bilel Djuna (French pronunciation: [ɡɑ̃di bilɛl dʒuna]; born 6 May 1986), better known by his stage name Maître Gims and more recently just Gims (//, GHIMSS; French: [mɛtʁə ɡims]) (sometimes stylized as GIMS), is a Congolese-French singer-songwriter and rapper. He grew up in France and currently lives in France and Morocco. He is a former member of the hip hop group Sexion d’Assaut and released his first major album, Subliminal in 2013. The album sold over a million copies in France and peaked at number two in the Syndicat National de l’Édition Phonographique. His other two albums follow: Mon cœur avait raison in 2015 and Ceinture noire in 2018 reached number one in France and Belgium (Wallonia) and peaked in the top 40 in various European countries, including Denmark, Italy and Switzerland.
He has topped the French singles charts four times, including once as a featured artist, most recently in 2018 with his song “La même“. The song was the most performed in France in 2018 and it helped Gims become the most performed artist on French television and radio for the same year.
In 2018, he was the 7th most performed artist in the world on Deezer. During his career he has worked with several international artists such as Sia, Pitbull, Lil Wayne, Stromae, Maluma, Sting and others. He has sold over 5 million records, including 3 million albums since the start of his career.
In 2020, he won the International Artist of the Year in Distinctive International Arab Festivals Awards after his featuring in Mohamed Ramadan‘s song “Ya habibi”. On 17 September 2020, Netflix released a documentary about the last ten years of his career titled Gims: On the Record.
Gandhi Djuna was born on 6 May 1986 in Kinshasa, Zaire (Now the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1997). He comes from a family of musicians: his father Djanana Djuna is the singer of Papa Wemba‘s Viva La Musica troupe. He arrived in France in 1988 at the age of two, with his parents who were then foreigners in an irregular situation.
Because of his parents hiding, he explains having had a difficult childhood. He was placed with foster families, before living in squats until he was 18 years old. This passage from his life is mentioned in his book Vise le soleil. He is part of a family of fourteen children. He is the brother of Dadju, member of the group The Shin Sekaï, of Bedjik, Afi (formerly Xgangs) and Djelass all three rappers. On his first album Subliminal (2013), they participate in the song “Outsider”. Gims grew up in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris. His family then moved to the 9th arrondissement and finally to the 19th arrondissement. Gims studied graphic design and communication.
He takes the nickname “Gims” in reference to Asian cinema and the world of martial arts.
In 2002, Gims formed with the rappers JR O Crom and Makan the trio Prototype 3015. The name of the group was chosen in reference to a film, mainly for its “combative” meaning. The name Sexion d’Assaut also includes a reference to the Sturmabteilung (SA), in French “Section d’Assaut”, a famous Nazi paramilitary unit, which the group learns by chance during a concert for the City of Paris. In 2005, the trio merged with Assonance, another group from the Sexion d’Assaut collective. The group is now called 3rd Prototype.
After a few pieces produced independently, Sexion d’Assault meets their agent, Dawala, in the cellars of Châtelet-Les Halles in Paris. With Dawala, the 3rd Prototype released its first mixtape, La Terre du Milieu, on 13 May 2006. Gims designed the CD cover. In 2007, they released the album Le Renouveau, which contained the well-known piece “Anti Tectonick”.
Through Prototype 3015 first, then Prototype 3, Gims is part of the Sexion d’Assaut supergroup. Sexion d’Assaut released his first songs between 2002 and 2003. Among them, we find Gang yaba Gang, Coup 2 pression and Frères de rue. With Sexion d’Assault, Gims participates twice in the 12 Inch’All Star, a famous rap competition in the Parisian underground which takes place at the Batofar. He came in second place and gained notoriety, now known as one of the best kickers (freestylers) in France.
In 2008, the group presented monthly freestyles called Les Chroniques du mois: each month, at least two freestyle songs were released via audio or video. In January 2009, Sexion d’Assaut published a net-tape renamed Les Chroniques du 75, a compilation also containing previously unreleased tracks, including the solo piece “À 30%” by Gims.
Sexion d’Assaut’s second street album, L’Écrasement de tête, was released in May 2009 on Because Music. The last sub-entity of the supergroup, 3rd Prototype, disappears completely. LÉcrasement de tête acquired a certain notoriety with the general public thanks to titles and music videos, including “T’es bête ou quoi?” and “Wati Bon Son” (in collaboration with Dry). Sexion d’Assaut goes on tour, notably opening for Orelsan and Medina. The Head Crush sells more than 50,000 copies. Following the release of LÉcrasement de tête, the group left Because Music due to misunderstandings and signed with Sony Music Entertainment.
In 2010, Sexion d’Assaut released the studio album L’École des points vitaux. Gims is credited there as a singer-songwriter. He composed the instrumental tracks of several pieces, including “Ils appellent ça “Casquette à l’envers”. Other beatmakers also participate in the album, such as SoulChildren with “La drogue te donne des ailes”. The album met with great success with the general public, selling over 400,000 copies. The group opens for Suprême NTM at the Parc des Princes and performs at the Zénith de Paris.
In April 2011, a controversy broke out over the group’s openly homophobic claims. In reaction to criticism, Sexion d’Assaut decided to release a mixtape entitled En attendant L’Apogée: les Chroniques du 75, which despite everything met with success with titles like “Paris va bien” and “Qui t’a dit”. The project contains a DVD including one of the clips of the songs present, as well as a documentary retracing the group’s journey.
In March 2012, they released their second album, L’Apogée, which was more successful than the first. The album sold over 700,000 copies. The same year, Gims published an online comic entitled Au cœur du vortex.
In parallel with his career with Sexion d’Assaut, Gims tried his hand at musical composition. At the end of 2006, he released his first solo project, an Extended play entitled Pour ceux qui dorment les yeux ouverts. The EP is produced by ATK’s Fredy K and Noko. Pressed to very few copies, the disc aims to make Gims known to the general public. The record features tracks with Sexion d’Assaut, Scred Connexion rapper Koma and a singer named Carole.