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Cheb Mami

The traditional music of Algeria is combined with Spanish, Moroccan, French, and Arabic influences to create the dance-inspiring sounds of "the Prince of Rai," Cheb Mami (born Khelifati Mohamed). Cheb Mami's music was described in a press release from the ARK 21 record label, as "Arabic rock & roll retaining virtues of traditional music but infused with urban urgency." Reviewing his 1999 album, Meli Meli, CMJ New Music Report wrote, "As perhaps rai's most popular vocalist, Cheb Mami is one of the leaders of the pack, turning the genre into a futuristic dance/funk hybrid with the power to pack the dancefloors of North Africa, Paris, and New York."

A native of Saida, a small village in southwest Algeria, Cheb Mami has been attracting attention with his soulful singing since his early teens. In 1971, he placed second in a talent contest organized by Ihan Wa Chabab.

Despite recording several successful cassettes in the 1980s, he made little money from their sale. Frustrated by the music industry in his homeland, he soon began to consider alternatives. Although he served a stint in the Algerian military, he relocated to Paris, France, following his discharge in 1975. With the release of his first internationally-distributed album, The Prince of Rai, in 1989, Cheb Mami reached the upper echelon of rai music. Cheb Mami has continued to take the rai tradition to new heights. Meli Meli featured a song, "Parisian du Nord," performed with rap singer K-Mel of Alliance Ethnique and a remix of the title track, which featured help from Gordon Cyrus (Neneh Cherry, Massive Attack) and Soul II Soul's Simon Law.

The new millennium was a much more pivotal time for Mami, for his collaboration with Sting on his mainstream hit, "Desert Rose," marked the first duet with a Western singer and an Eastern artist. Mami's rai background was full-fledged at last, allowing him to release Dellali (2001) without much music-industry political restraint. ~ Craig Harris, Rovi
full bio

Comments

If the word "rai" means "opinion", I am most happily "opinion"ate d ! ! ! ! ! YESSSSS!!! :-D
I just discovered magic!!!!
arete07
West Algerian music known as Rai meaning literally opinion, he is called the prince of Rai music.
Love Cheb Mami's voice & overall sound...wish he had more releases! Thank you Sting for introducing him to Western listeners!
I like the music of Cheb Mami and Khaled too. Cheb Mami has a beautiful flexible voice.
my sisters worldly self got me on cheb- i love him his voice soothing and empowering all at the same time
lg.marianna
Behabak Mami.
casaoui.guy
Great voice and beats :) I came from a Moroccan background & I've been listening to Khaled & Mami since my childhood.
Yes, he really is fantastic. That voice... is scintillatin g ! It is rare that an artist can feel simultaneous l y rooted in tradition, earthy as sand flowing through your fingers, and yet, refreshing as a hot spiced beverage served by a kindly, wise host. Simply a great combination of world musical influences. Vive le Rai, and its Prince!
jeanjacque3
As newly arrived Peace Corps Volunteers in Morocco in 2000, we kept hearing the raves of second year volunteers about the local north african rock/rai music, namely from artists like Cheb Khalid and Cheb Mami. I was blown away, and his earlier cassettes (available only on bootleg, unfortunatel y ) were my favorite. Unfortunatel y , early albums from the '80's like "Policia" have not been transferred to CD.
That Voice

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