The neighbourhood of Seine-Saint-Denis, on the northern fringe of Paris, is home to a generation whose families migrated from former French colonies to help rebuild France after the war. It is also the country's poorest city district.
But while many here are marginalized, France's suburbs have produced some of its hottest contemporary actors, artists and musicians, including actor Omar Sy and comedian Jamel Debbouze, each formed by their own battles against entrenched stereotypes.
Ichon, a 25-year-old rapper whose parents emigrated from Cameroon and who grew up in Montreuil, a neighbourhood in Seine-Saint-Denis, wants his music to transcend the divide between metropolitan Paris and the neglected banlieue suburbs.
"I have friends I grew up with here who, when I told them I was in Paris would think 'Wow, Paris!', like it was a big deal," he says. "They thought Paris wasn't for them. But in my opinion, the choice is yours."
Ichon's music blends rap and other genres. As well as music, he enjoys cooking, a passion inherited from his parents who run a restaurant in Montreuil.
"Life is a music video. In a sense everything is fake. You choose your image. You choose your life, you choose your music video," Ichon says.
Worms-T, whose family is originally from Algeria, is also a rapper from Seine-Saint-Denis, referred to by locals as "le 9-3" after its department number.
He lives with his wife and his father, picks his daughter up from school each day and doesn't drink or smoke, but the 28-year-old's lyrics are packed with references to a very different sort of life in the banlieues.
"In the 9-3, our different communities are really united together. If everyone were into violence, crime, and easy money, there would only be rich people in the 9-3. But the rich people are on the other side of the periph," he says, referring to the highway that encircles metropolitan Paris.
Worms-T raps about what he knows: the obstacles life in the banlieues throws up, his crew La Rue La Vraie (The Real Street), crime and his planned rise to the top of the rap game.
His melancholic lyrics play to the threatening image many French hold of the concrete estates, even if the rapper says he thinks of the suburbs as a place for family and friends.
"What do people want to hear about from the banlieue? They want to hear about violence, so that's what I give them," Worms-T says. "It's like opening up your heart, but your heart is dark. We're rejecting what they've put in our heart."
Immigration and identity are hot-button themes in France ahead of next year's presidential election. Anti-immigration parties are gaining strength across Europe, including France's own far-right Front National.
"Le 9-3's" young generation of artists hail from different backgrounds but share a sense that the banlieues are isolated from mainstream society and misrepresented in the media.
Designer Aisse N'diaye expresses her Mauritanian roots through her clothing line, called Afrikanista.
Her latest collection is called "Liberte, Egalite, Affaire de papiers", a play on France's national motto and the struggle immigrants face obtaining their identity papers. It combines T-shirts bearing the names of African neighbourhoods in Paris with red-fringed epaulettes made from woven PVC shopping bags.
"African women are strong, so it's to show their strength and independence, a woman who is proud of her origins and who knows where she is going," N'diaye says.
"I am French. But today in France people don't recognise me as completely French... When something bad happens, it's always the fault of immigrants, or the fault of Muslim people."