Rai

CHEIKHA REMITTI – Grand Dame of Algeria’s school of hard knocks!

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Remitti is most emphatically still here, well past her eightieth birthday, sharp, defiant, halogenically lucid, still giving her audiences the proverbial cru-cut with her freight-train baritone holler and still raising the temperature with her shimmying shoulders and pulsating midriff. Moreover Remitti really does seem to have overtaken and outlived much of the younger generation that she originally spawned. Her brand new album ‘N’ta Goudami’, is creatively more ambitious and successful than 95% of the rai being recorded by singers one third her age. It seems like Remitti has trounced the rai youth at their own game.

KHALED #2 – Freedom and pop

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A national treasure, who has always taken the trouble to stay out of big ‘P’ politics, Khaled has no problem flirting with power. He’s a good friend of the current Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and defends his friend’s decision to play loose with the constitution and seek a third term.

KHALED – The fame and the furies

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Khaled knows that kind of fame, not only in France, but also throughout North Africa, its diaspora and strange unlikely places like India, Brazil and Japan. After the release of his second to last album ‘Kenza’ in 2000, it seemed that fame was beginning to take its toll.

RACHID TAHA #3 – Who the f**k are you?

Rachid Taha

“Who are you?” “Who am I?”  It sounds like there’s an existential storm broiling deep inside the soul of France’s number 1 musical upsetter.   ‘Tékitoi?’, the title of the latest in a long line of probing, provocative and highly original Rachid Taha releases,  is a punchy piece of French street lingo whose tone actually says…

RACHID TAHA – The Last Punk?

Damon Albarn and Rachid Taha, Africa Express Paris 2009

But where exactly is Rachid Taha today? With the success of ‘Voilà Voilà’, ‘Ya Rayah’, and his participation alongside fellow Khaled and Faudel in the epic ‘1-2-3 Soleil’ concert at the Bercy stadium in Paris, which yielded a million-selling live album, Rachid was definitely a big star in France in the 1990s. But he never bothered to capitalise on that status. Commercial strategies and speculations are just bore him frigid. When I ask Taha about the collapsing recorded music industry in France he just quips, “hang on, I’ll pass you my Financial Director and you can talk to him.” Ok, ‘nuff said.