Home News From Oran to Barbès, how raï galvanized an entire generation

From Oran to Barbès, how raï galvanized an entire generation

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Where does Rai come from? Morocco and Algeria have been fighting over its paternity for decades. The first maintains that he was born in the streets of his millennial city of Oujda, and not in the nearby Algerian region which embraces Oran, Tlemcen, and Sidi Bel Abbès. A war of historians that Unesco interrupted by registering, on the 1er last December, this popular song from Algeria to the Intangible Heritage of Humanity, after the French baguette and the Tunisian harissa. A bell jar intended to protect this art which succeeded in drawing, in the 1990s, a bridge between the shores of the Mediterranean.

This music, like so many others, is based on iconic characters. Thousands of copied cassettes and pirated CDs by Cheb Khaled, Cheb Mami, Cheikha Nedjma, Faudel, Cheikha Remitti and other Baaziz poured in through the port of Marseille. These artists were quickly elevated to the rank of superstars in France. And if modern pop-raï has acquired worldwide fame, it is because it has been able to free itself from its roots. Age-old traditions of Oran and feminine Arabic blues music fused with the electric guitars of American rock and Japanese drum machines.

Rai is based on legends. In the 1920s, on the shores of radiant Oran, a port city open to the world in northwestern Algeria, a handful of free women unknowingly redesigned the contours of modern Algerian music. Some work

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