Raï Music

Posted: November 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

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Raï music originated with the Bedouins in Algeria but today blends various forms of music with influences beyond the Arab world, including Western music, notably from Spain and France. Because of Algeria and Morroco’s colonial links to France, raï music became popular in France and blended with local musical trends in the suburbs of Paris including French hip hop.

Raï expressed emotions associated with everyday life, including love and sex. These themes came into conflict with Islamic values, especially as the Islamic movement in North Africa became politically mobilized. One of raï’s biggest starts Cheb Hasni, was murdered by Islamic extremists in 1994. Other raï singers such as Khaled and Cheb Mami moved to France and recorded raï songs in French. Cheb Mami’s song “Parisien du Nord” and Khaled’s “Aicha” are notable examples of French rai songs that were huge hits in France.

For a background article on raï, see “The Raï Boys“. On Cheb Hasni’s murder, see this article in the Guardian, “Hasni’s murder marks a backlash against rai stars” and this article “The Case of Algerian rai musician Cheb Hasni“.

Below is a clip of Cheb Hasni‘s a song “Chira Adra“.


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