Rockin' Raï Rebel: Cheb Khaled's Earliest Albums - An Ode to BodegaPop - الشاب خـالـد.

How are you all doin'?

Been quite a longish while since I've posted anything on my blog 'ere for various reasons (busy with some work that has something to do in part with managing the quality of the uploads at The Audiotopia, plus some other things that have kept me a-bizzle lately).

Mustapha Baqbou: Tim Abdellahs's
earlier Ode-To post.
All in all, one has to get back to the blogging grinding stone whenever he sees such dedication by other, fellow bloggers like Tim Abdellah (Baqbou post), and tireless many others. Seeing this one here on the blogosphere posted at BodegaPop, urged me to show something in return. The guy named Gary there has taken it upon himself to give us all a whole week of one Algerian beloved Raï singer; namely Cheb Khaled. So, here below is a short 'shout out' on my part for Gary in hopes that this Ode-To post will also be enjoyed by the rest of you dearest bloglers. Enjoy it.

Cheb Khaled (also spelled Chab Khalid) - الشـاب خـالـد:

Cheb Khaled - الشـاب خـالـد.
Before we start with Khaled, I have to introduce you to Raï music. Raï* (Arabic: راي/ري. See below for further explanations on the terminology and more), is a form of desert 'sahrawi' music born around the late 1800s in western Algiers. During this huge span of time, the genre witnessed many changes in its very musical core. But, the early singers of this genre were where it's at: called 'chioukhs' (female noun: chiekhats), which means 'elders', or those in the know of the old style that is the real Raï.

A Raï dance troupe. 19th Cent.
In the French-occupied Algiers, the early maîtres found fame (even when their songs were anti-colonialist), and were much respected for their sound. The early masters of Raï sang about their homeland Algiers in sad tunes formed around a genre that stretches way back to maybe the 1200s (malhoun), Anadalusi, and poems or K'ssidas in which they poured their hearts out in accompaniment of a simple reed flute (gasbah), a goatskin tambourine (daff), and a hand-drum (gellal). Their songs weren't called raï music at all: it was... just music.

Rue de Phillipe - Sidi El-Hourai.
Soon, and in the early 1900s the songs started to take a rather urban tincture where some of those nomadic troubadours moved to the city of Ouran (also spelled in French as Oran - Arabic: Wahrane - وهران) which was nicknamed 'Little Paris' to denote the abundance of brothels and night-houses or what became known as drink-bars later on in that city, frequented by the working Algerian populace as well as touring, libidinous French soldiers who dug these singers' tunes. Through drinks and sex, the Algerian populace memorized most of those songs by heart to the extent that they became a singular style called zendani, 'gharbi' or western, and later 'Wahrani' in honour of that coastal city as they were sung by 30's singers like Ahmad Wehbi, Ben Yamina, and Eddoubahi.

Legend Belaoui El-Houari.
One of those elders was Belaoui Houari - بلاوي الهواري. Cheb Khaled sang with Houari a few years ago joining forces with his mentor and legend who's credited by most as the godfather and the founding figure of all modern Raï music, or as it's called raï moderne stemming root and branch from popular 40's Egyptian film-music. Raï has always been heavily influenced by singers like Farid Al-Atrache, and yes, even years later... Lebanese classic ones. Houari's contribution to this amazing music came by replacing the old instruments with those of a more western nature like the acoustic guitar, accordion, trombone, the acoustic (and electric) guitar, and the organ. This made it possible for solo Raï singers to incorporate a band on stage making their sound more serious. Khaled himself joined one of these Raï band ensembles (Ferqat Al-Azhar - فرقة الأزهار) around 1977, and made at least one album with them.
Groupe Al-Azhar, mid 70's.
The Earliest known
picture of Khaled.
Cheb Khaled (real name: Khaled L'Hadj Brahim), was born in 29th February, 1960 to a poor family in the port city of Sidi El-Haouari in the 'Spanioli' (or, the Spanish Quarter) part of this district situated in Ouran, and later relocated to L'Kmiel ghasba which has an overpopulation of Moroccans. This district is so close to the Moroccan borders where Khaled and his other two brothers used to go to the small shops that used to sell oil and wheat waiting for any work that would pay them any money. Khaled spent his time playing a small harmonica that he bought with his hard-earned money. He saw a friend of his playing one at his birthday and vowed to get himself a sweet treat.
Young Khaled (right),
with his brothers & sister.
Later, and with his own tiny hands, he built a wooden guitar that he used to tote around the shops and play smiling with his distinctive child smile that he still bears till this day. Then, he took one of these instruments that we talked about that constitute a standard ensemble at an early age (he was only 7 when he tried his tiny hands at playing any music), and played the accordion at his school. But, being the rebel boy, most of his early high-school days were spent around the bars of Wahran; his birthplace, with his accordion around his neck, sneeking round the bordellos, hanging like a toughie with the cool guys, checking this spot or that for the new 'hot' mousem stars trying to find a place among the older stage performers.

Playing at a wedding. 70's.
With some fans,
playing a piano.
His father who was a garage mechanic at the local police station did not like the small kid's aspirations and after a few years of banning the young Khaled from playing his favourite instrument, the King Rebel decided to go full-circle quitting high-school. At around 12, his popularity became audible around the city of Wahran's local parties and weddings getting paid 20 dollars a pop (a small fortune at that time for any Wahrani), and soon when he turned 14, he secured a record deal (with an Ourani label called Anwar), to put four of his songs on record playing with some other young singers calling their selves The Five Stars (or, Le Cinque Étoiles shortened to just 'Étoiles' by his fans).
Cheb Khaled with other Raï Chebab:
Sahraoui (L), Mami (M), Hamid (R).
How much was he given for that deal that took place in 1974? Guess? Just five dollars! Whews! Still, these four songs became the holy grail of early Khaled's repertoire completists. He managed to record five more EP-singles from 1974 till 1978 that few, if any... know of their existence. The young Khaled had to suffer the long and winding road of having to work hard to get the enough money necessary to pay for his new habit which grew only faster with time as he joined more bands than any other Algerian singer (his most noteworthy work was with Ferqat Al-Azhar), and learned more instruments (he dabbled with the flute, banjo, and the piano for a while), taking many minion jobs like a janitor, shoe-shine boy, waiter, and a secretariat.
Saxophonist Bellemou Messaoud:
Le Pere du Raï.

Khaled was still this minor singer among the giants who were the real arbitrators of the genre such as saxophonist and trombonist Massoud Bellemou, singers Boutaiba S'ghier, Bouteldja Belqasem, etc ... naming here but a few. Then, the young'uns came with their synthesizers, drum-machines and turned Raï from a pure form of art into that of a Pop Music one. Algerian Boston-educated producer Ahmad 'Baba' Rachid took the young Khaled under his wing as early as of 1976 and helped him create a new form: Pop Raï, which later became known fondly as 'Love Raï' with its over-sentimental wordings and romantic style played to a deafening cacophony of keyboards, incessant drumming, and clanging 'lectric guitars. Raï was never the same again.

*This developed lately into an odd-ball neo-Raï genre called Raï'n'B (heavily influenced by R&B and Hip-hop).
The King of Raï: Khaled in the 80's.
Cheikha Mama Rimitti.
Some of those old Raï singers came together and played with Khaled like Cheika 'Mama' Rimitti El-Haqhaniya, and he in return joined forces with the newer generation like the time when he duetted with Cheb Mami, and made a trio with him and Rachid Taha, too. Other popular unisons came also from the Arab pop music world in 2006 when Khaled sang on stage with Lebanese female singer Diana Haddad, and before her with Syrian singer Assalah Nasri, Egyptian pop singers Amr Diab, Mohammed Munir, Angham, plus a roster of many more. His songs spanned many musical genres sometimes hip-hopping and rapping along with world-renowned rap artists, but this had nothing to do with 'real' Raï music. He also tried his hands at the avant-garde alongside Algerian artist Safy Boutella in the 1986 album Kutché (his first produced outside of Algiers by French producer Martin Messonier), which gave him fame in France and Japan.
Cheb Khaled with Safy Boutella.
Khaled with Cheb Mami, Rachid Taha.
The title 'Cheb' (Young One - شاب/شب) was given to those younger Raï generation of musicians that came a-knockin' in the late 60's. Khaled won his title in 1985 at the Ouran Festival of Music, only to let go of it as he grew older and more famous in 1992. He relocated to France the next year in 1986, and was named a Chavalier des Arts et des Letters by Jack Lang the French Minister of Culture at that time. He holds the French nationality, too. He moved to nearby Luxemburg where he now lives with his three daughters and Moroccan wife Sameera in 'protest' of the racism against his fellow Algerians seen lately in France proving he'll always be the Rebel Raï King.

Rebel Raï King Khaled, late 80's.
His fame became a global phenomenon when he sang his most-known song Didi (ديدي. Trans.: a wordplay on the adi el-zain part 'to give the beau' mixed with Hadidti which means many odd words like 'threatened', 'took down', 'saddened', etc...), which got him fans from as far as India, Pakistan, Latin America, and Russia 'cause of its Latin-Afro-Indo-C'arabiean-Moroccanroll styles! It's this glocal song that made people all over the world know who's Khaled and know some of his songs by heart. Sadly, few know his early ones: those songs that he sang when he was a lesser-known Raï struggling singer. These are his best. Ever.

Cheb Khaled:

from 70's romanticism (R), to 90's new global sounds (L).

The early Khaled still lives in the heart of all Algerians, and Arabs till this very day. The early songs were much aimed at preserving the atmosphere of these hard times that Algiers had to go through time after time, with almost seven French governance rules that sabotaged the country from the early 50's till the mid-60s killing a million, a bloody civil war that cost Algiers nearly 300,000 deaths, and an extremist Muslimainist theocracy that caused the massacre of almost another million... It's their song; their Raï and not France's, or anybody's.

Khaled with his family in Ouran. His mother is on the left.
Khaled is like all Algerians: humble, down-to-earth human being who comes from a mixed racial background nevertheless he doesn't have any racism, extremist agendas (unless the west butts in as is the case since the late 90's where they used him as a Polisario freedom fighter poster-boy). Algerians are good-natured people who need to live and enjoy their life with a mutual sound that unifies them into a dance of joy and happiness. Khaled's rarely seen without his famous shit-eatin' grin this humble king of a long lost music. Le rue de Raï, indeed.
Khaled today: Algiers' fort of sound.
He returned home to his birth-town Ouran to sing solo without any accompaniment in July, 2011 at Algiers' Independence Day and Youth Day celebrations. Speaking to one journalist about how he sings for women and freedom*, he mentioned that, "this is the real Raï." He fought alcoholism, homicide rumours after the killing of fellow Cheb Hasni, and other media slanderfests and he stood firm his ground. Khaled is the sound of an Algiers that has finally learned how to be free the hard way.  

*Cheb Khaled's latest 2009 album was called 'Freedom'.

This dedicatory post goes to Gary's efforts at re-discovering the earthy, raw early songs by Khaled, and his CD posts one after another did a marvie job so far — to say but the least. So, in an ode to his posts, here are some of the 'earliest' stuff that never ever got any hearing at all.

Some of these babes are really old. Khaled's discography can top the 100 and that's just counting his cassettes that he made before reaching the age of 28! Christ on a crutch! Hope you guys can enjoy these uploads at the moment: I will post more 'original' cassettes and LPs by Cheb Khaled later on with better audio-quality and scans, too.

Do enjoy these cassettes Gary and many thanks for being this ever-wonderful devout blogger.

In the meantime... I be back to my self-imposed hiatus.

'Scuse me while I kiss the sky!

Bye bye.

Early Recordings:

Long Live The King!
⇮ Download all files from here ⇮
(كفيش ننسى سعاد - How Can We Forget Souâd).
(روحي يا وهران - O'My Soul! Wahran!).
(يـا شابة - You Young Female One).
(تيجي لا بغيت تيجي - Come, Or Don't).
(إنتا تدير, وانا دير - You Roll And I Roll).
(ما حلالي نـوم - Sleep Has Departed Me).
(سهر الليالي - Oh The Sleepless Nights).
(مونديال 1986 - World Cup '86).
 Cheb Khaled - Ana Jit, Ana Jit
(أنا جيت, أنا جيت - I'm Here, I'm Here).
(مانيش منا - I'm Not Like Her). 
(خدي قرارك - Make Up Your Mind).
Cheb Khaled - A'akaibe Mestourine
(عقابي مستورين - My Kids Are Okay).
(خلوها - Leave Her Alone). 
(بحري - على الزرقا راني نسأل - Seaside - I Seek The Blue-Eyed Woman).   
 Cheb Khaled - Ammi Chibani
(عمي شيباني - My Uncle Chibani). 
(طريق الليسيه - The Road to High-School).

Trig El-Lici EP - Anwar Label
featuring a very young Khaled.
-Single: Cheb Khaled with Cheb Hamid - Ghir Douni L'Darna (غير ودوني لدارنا - Just Take Me Home). (Note: this is my favourite song by Cheb Khaled).


Additional Video Linx:
-Interview: Audiocumentary/ Didi Tour Part -I, Part-II, Part-III.
-Audiocumentary/ Mémoires du Rai en Algérie (French). Stream Video.
-Arabica 100% - Mahmoud Zemmouri - 1997 (Cheb Khaled & Cheb Mami). Download Full Album Sound-Track.

Useful Blogs:
-Cheb Khaled - (French)

-Cheb Khaled - (Arabic).
-V/A - Raï Singers.
-Good Article.

Similar Artists/ Bands:
(Styles: Raï Moderne Algériene /Occidentalisé 'gharbi' /Far-West Algerian Raï /Pop Raï).

Bellemou Messaoud, Bouteldja Belkacem, Boussouar El-Maghnaoui, Boutaiba S'ghir, Mouloud S'ghir, Cheb Khalid (a different Khaled), Cheb Khaled Junior (E'Sghir), Cheb Zergui S'ghir, Cheb Med S'ghir, Cheb Hasni Junior (S'Ghir a.k.a. Nabil Def), Cheb Hasni, Cheb Mami, Cheb Rahim, Cheb Kacimo, Cheb Hichem, Cheb Kader, Cheb Karim, Cheb Hamid, Cheb Sahraoui, Cheb Noureddine, Cheb Kadirou, Cheb Faudel, Cheb Hafid, Cheb Tahar, Cheb Zahouani, Cheb Fateh, Cheb Ali, Cheb Fezza, Cheb Fouzi, Cheb Akkal, Cheb Akil, Cheb Dany, Cheb Abdellah Nasro, Cheb Nasro, Cheb Aissa, Cheb Anouar, Cheb Belkheir, Cheb Bouaa, Cheb Hamid Sekka, Cheb Hamouda, Cheb Hassen, Cheb Faycal, Cheb Djeloul, Cheb Tahar, Cheb Kadirou, Cheb Mourad El-Maasakri, Cheb Bella, Cheb El-Hindi, Cheb Azzeddine, Cheb Abdelhak, Cheb Aziz El-Wahrani, Cheb Hassan El-Wahrani, Djalti El-Wahrani, Cheb Ourrad Houari, Houari Napoli, Houari Tmouchenti, Houari Dauphin, Houari Maasakri, Houari Benchenet, Houari Manar, Houari Khaldoune, Cheba Houaria, Cheba Zahouania, Cheba Fadela, Cheba Chahra, Cheba Kheira, Cheba Dalila, Cheba Djenet, Cheba Sonia, Cheba Mouna, Cheba Djamila, Cheba Fatiha, Cheba Fatima, Cheba Ahlem, Cheba Amina, Cheba Farida, Cheikh Ghali, Cheikh Mamou, Cheikh Naam, Cheikh Fethi, Cheikh Dehane, Cheikh Bouabdellah, Abdellah Saidi, Kouider Ben-Said, Snouci, Hmida L'Artist, Mohamed Lamine, Khaled Maresille, Hocine Chabati, Ghazi, Wancharissi, Drissi El-Abassi, Berrabah El-Abassi, Cheb Yacine El-Abbassi, Mimoune El-Abassi, Mohamed El-Abassi, Ahmed Zargui, Abderahmane, Djalti, Kouider Bensaid, Ben Aissa, Mazouzi, Karim Mosbahi, Abdelkader El-Khaldi, Abderahmane, Groupe Amarna, Ferket El-Mahboub, Trio Hasna , Tessala Entreprise.

*Raï Music came from the bedouin Arabic word (رعي), which is how it's known in the east way back at the starts of the past century. The word was a bedoui joyous interdiction of being free 'Ya Raïyi!' that was sung first by nomads tending their herds using a simple 3/4 rhythm accompanied by a flute that they used to trim directly from desert trees and plants. The Arabic root-word means 'to sheep-herd' and the shout has become a way to describe how one has got a lot of freedom. When Raï was brought to the cities, many felt ashamed by this bedouin reference and claimed it to come from expressing one's opinion in Darji popular dialect and called the genre bedoui citadinisé, or gharbi to assert its 'western' Orani and bedoui origins. One B.B.C. documentary radio show once gave the right definition of Raï, but I haven't seen it getting rightly explained anywhere else.

Other influences
much to many's surprise, came from Turkey. The singers' songs were always initiated by a lengthy 'Aman Aman!' sung with the most sordid-sounding voice. Aman is a Turkish exclamatory word which most Turks use to call when amazed and means 'peace of God', or simply, 'by God!'. Wahrani Raï singers and masters took a great interest in Turkish classical music, and some of the early masters were actually 'madaheen': people who sang adulations to God (Allah) and the Propeht Mohammed (El-Arabi). Amdah music (plural) still lives in the modern Arab world, and is considered now a separate genre that's strongly associated with Sufi music.

Also, and in the same linguistic vein: some words most singers used to introduce their songs with were simple shouts and calls like 'Ya Dellali!', which has close, similar intonations and usage among Lebanese singers. Delali is like the one who brings down the lover's luck and causes them much suffering, still a lover would never give up on them. Lebanese popular musicians also sang about Ya Delli, meaning how they were brought down by their own lovers and humiliated as a way to introduce a song to the audience. 

Moreover, and afar from the Maghreb (western) side of the Arab World, Raï musicians in both Algiers and Morocco (Rifi region), initiated their songs with the words 'Dan Dani Dan' which has its roots in the Arabic Peninsula region that sits at the farthest eastern other side of this whole body of same culture and historical background. A dan/ dana is a pearl, and pearl divers sang these same songs whenever they went pearl-diving placing their faith in God's will. Some Arabian Gulf countries like Kuwait and the U.A.E. have a long-established, Moroccan and Algerian musical influence.

Arabic music has the same 'musical roots' all over this large extension of land that's called now the Arab World: there used to be no boundaries and no bariers between any Arab country and another. It's all a oneness of sound and music, and of course, language. Today's so-called 'Arab Spring' is what the neo-colonialist West tries so hard at keeping apace, with nothing but the idea of how to further dissect, splinter, and separate the Arab World into smaller, warring states now that democrazy prohibits them from being full-force invaders. Not gonna happen. Not even on the twelfth of nowhere. The truth moment is near.    

Fi Khatir L'Hbab we S'hab!



Gary said...

This is such a wonderful selection, Hammer. And really great contextual background for Khaled. Thank you so much!

dubme said...

Hi Hammer,

Thanks for your comment on my blog. Meant to leave a comment on the Lebanese Compilation Post of your earlier, but have been death-busy these days. And now you share this rockin' Khaled selection full of goodies. I already took the albums, but haven't had the chance to listen to them yet... Will hopefully do that some time in the near future - and also read all the info you shared about Khaled. Quality Material! The Khaled pictures are already brilliant! Thanks for all the work & love! I am currently living/studying in China - you and Gary from Bodega Pop are kinda inspiring me to rip some Chinese music and share it on my blog... Will see what I can do. Take care; DubMe

Hammer said...

Same, bro.

Have good fun, all the time.


David said...

Hammer, you are mad but brilliant! This is another enormous collection. I've been loving BodegaPop's output, and now here you go with masses of early Rai. How did you know that was my first 'world music' discovery & first love?! :-) I have to admit I haven't loved Khaled as much as I should, mainly because it's hard to find those early albums; and now here you are providing the Gold Mine !! Plus those DepositFile links over at the Bodega; I have enough early Khaled now to listen to nothing else for months !!!!

And I haven't even had time to see what other monster treasures are hidden in your earlier posts...

You guys are so wonderful! Big big thank yous & love from


A.P. Roady said...

Putain, merci, c'est trop la classe !

_ said...

I hope you find the time some day to reupload this amazing collection :(

_ said...

Kicking myself that I didn't download all of this when I had the chance :(

Anonymous said...

Reupload please?