Paul Van Haver (born 12 March 1985) - better known by his stage name Stromae - is a Belgian singer, rapper and songwriter. He is originally from Laeken in Brussels. His father, a Rwandan architect, was mostly absent during his childhood and was reportedly killed during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. His mother placed him in a Roman Catholic Jesuit school at the age of 16 after he failed in the public school system. He formed a small rap group with friends while still in school. His early influences included Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel, Cuban son, and Congolese rumba. He did not always feel that he was from Belgium, even though he was raised as a Belgian. This "outsider" image became part of his appeal.

In 2000 he appeared as a rapper called Opsmaestro, though he later changed his stage name to Stromae ('Maestro' with the syllables reversed in a French vernacular practice called verlan). At the age of 18, he founded a rap group called Suspicion, along with rapper J.E.D.I. in Eichof. They produced the song and music video 'Faut que t'arrête le Rap...' before J.E.D.I. decided to leave the duo. In order to finance his private school education, Van Haver worked part-time in the hospitality industry, but his academic performance wasn't up to standard. It was only later, when he registered at the Institut national de radioélectricité et cinématographie, that he released his debut EP, 'Juste un cerveau, un flow, un fond et un mic' (2007).

It was followed in 2010 by his debut studio album 'Cheese', featuring the single 'Alors on danse', a number one hit in several European countries. The album was followed by 'Racine Carrée' (2013), a huge commercial success throughout Europe, as well as Russia and Canada, thanks to hits like 'Formidable', 'Papaoutai' and 'Tous les mêmes'. In 2015 he embarked on an ambitious tour of Africa but had to cut it short due to medical reasons.


Track artwork
Stromae - Carmen (Handsome Habibi Remix)
Track artwork
stromae - tous les mêmes (aeroplane remix)


BEBrussels, Belgium


Dimitri Borrey
Profile added by Stanley Gazemba on 18 Jun 2015