Deciphering Culture

Posts Tagged ‘Moroccan music

Updating the archive: interview of Moroccan rock star Reda Allali (Hoba Hoba Spirit)for MTV IGGY

leave a comment »

Moroccan Rock Legend & Journalist

Reda Allali Wants to Save The Music

Moroccan Rock Legend & Journalist Reda Allali Wants to Save The Music

JOURNALIST AND HOBA HOBA SPIRIT GUITARIST, SINGER AND SONGWRITER TALKS THE BUSINESS OF MUSIC IN MOROCCO

By MTV Iggy
October 10, 2012

Words by Jeffrey Callen, Ph. D.

Hoba Hoba Spirit was there when an alternative music scene came together in Casablanca in the late 1990s. They were there on the front lines of the protests after 14 heavy-metal musicians and fans were arrested and accused of being satanists in 2003. Creating distinctively Moroccan rock ‘n’ roll (with lyrics in French, Darija and English, and music infused with healthy doses of Gnawa music, reggae & Moroccan rhythms), many critics and supporters considered them too hip to ever be popular outside of Casablanca. Playing wherever they could get a gig, they introduced the live experience of rock ‘n roll to audiences in small cities and villages throughout Morocco and, by 2007, they had become one of the most popular Moroccan musical acts of any genre. More than any other alternative band, Hoba Hoba Spirit has advocated an opening of the Moroccan cultural landscape—through music and through the writing of bandleader and journalist Reda Allali in the magazine Telquel. In a far-ranging interview, Allali talks with ethnomusicologist Jeffrey Callen about the Hoba way, their unexpected road to success, the alternative music movement and the obstacles to making a living as a musician in Morocco.

(to read the rest, click here)

Updating the archive: article on Moroccan Alternative Music for MTV IGGY

leave a comment »

In Search of Alternative Music in Morocco

In Search of Alternative Music in Morocco

A DEEP DIVE INTO THE STATE OF MOROCCAN MUSIC OVER THE YEARS.

By MTV Iggy
September 27, 2012

Words by Jeffrey Callen, Ph. D.

In the late 1990s, an alternative music community came together in Casablanca that would dramatically change Moroccan popular music. Cultural outsiders, brought together by shared aesthetics and the support of a local community organization, hip-hop, rock, electronica, and “fusion” musicians joined together to make common cause to expand the boundaries of Moroccan music. Although it was their joining together in the late 1990s that would dramatically change the country’s musical landscape, each of these genres has its own separate history in Morocco.

The Prehistory— Genres on the Margins

Rock ‘n’ roll. The history of rock ‘n roll in Morocco goes back to the 1960s when young musicians formed hundreds of rock bands in cities throughout the country. By the 1970s, the first Moroccan rock explosion was over, eclipsed by a folk–revival that began in Casablanca and soon swept through North Africa, (to read the rest, click here)

 

Updating the archive: article on Gnawa music for MTV IGGY

leave a comment »

Healing via Rock’n’Roll? Morocco’s Gnawa Music Leads the Way

Healing via Rock’n'Roll? Morocco’s Gnawa Music Leads the Way

By MTV Iggy
September 27, 2012

Words by Jeffrey Callen, Ph. D. Photo by Nusrat Durrani.

The driving rhythm of the qraqebs (large metal hand cymbals) quickly envelop the listener, creating a sonic wall that simultaneously supports and obscures the bass pattern provided by the hajhouj (bass lute). In a healing context — and this is healing music — the afflicted individual must find his way to a particular melody provided by the hajhouj in order to enter into a dialogue with the spirit that is perplexing him or her. Sung invocations, particular colors and incense hasten the summoning of the spirit and the falling of the afflicted individual into the trance state where the healing takes place. A lila(all-night healing ceremony) is a multi-sensual event but it is the music that drives it, orchestrates its highs and lows, and signals the entry of the different spirits. This is the music of the Gnawa of Morocco and you can hear — and feel — the kinship with musical/healing practices, such as Santeria(Cuba) and Candomble (Brazil), that while born in the Americas, have clear West African roots. You can also feel the kinship with other tributaries of the West African musical river—rock, blues, jazz, reggae and numerous other pop musics—that were born in the Americas but have since spread throughout the world.

(to read the rest, click here)

French Fries in the Tagine — Moroccan Alternative Music

with one comment

In 2002, I spent the year researching the emergence of an alternative music movement in Morocco. Made up of a collection of genres that lie on the periphery of mainstream culture — hip-hop, electronica, rock/metal, fusion — alternative music had yet to break through. 2002 was its year on the cusp. In 2003, it would make its move to center stage and, within a few years, hip-hop and fusion bands would become major players in Moroccan pop culture.

My dissertation, French Fries in the Tagine: Re-imagining Moroccan Popular Music (UCLA, Department of Ethnomusicology, 2006),  which focused on fusion, examined this change in the musical playing field, how it happened and what it meant. I’m posting this link to share the work and ask for feedback. I’m currently writing a book on Moroccan alternative music that will hopefully bring this fascinating story to a wider audience.

All the best,

Jeffrey Callen, Ph.D.

Now for a little music:

Review: Traveling Spirit Masters: Moroccan Gnawa Trance and Music in the Global Marketplace, by Deborah Kapchan (Middle Eastern Studies Association Bulletin)

leave a comment »

This review was published in the Winter 2008/2009 edition of the Middle Eastern Studies Association Bulletin

Traveling Spirit Masters: Moroccan Gnawa Trance and Music in the Global Marketplace, by Deborah Kapchan. 325 pages, 19 b/w illus., endnotes, bibliography, index. Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2007. $75.00 (unjacketed cloth) ISBN 0-8195-6851-1, $27.95 (paper) ISBN 0-8195-6852-X.

reviewed by Jeffrey Callen

The ritual practice of the Gnawa, a Moroccan Islamic order formed by descendants of slaves from sub-Saharan Africa, centers on the performance of healing rituals (lilat; sing. lila). During a lila, afflicted individuals enter into trance and communicate with and placate spirits that are causing disturbances of their physical or psychological well-being. Lilat and the experience of trance have been the predominant focus of scholarly attention on the Gnawa, most notably from Francophone scholars (most notably Viviana Pâcques and Bertrand Hell). Traveling Spirit Masters, the first English language book of scholarship on the Gnawa, extends that focus to examine the ways in which trance and the Gnawa themselves have become commodities in the international marketplace. In the “Introduction”, Kapchan asserts that Traveling Spirit Masters is  not a book about the Gnawa but an exploration of the “power of trance, the way it circulates globally, and its relation to music and gendered subjectivity” (1). To fulfill the broad scope of  this goal, the book is divided into two sections: “The Culture of Possession” (Chapters 1-5) and “Possessing Culture” (Chapters 6-11). The first section, set in Morocco, explores the ritual practice of the Gnawa with particular focus on the role and involvement of women, both as individuals who seek relief through trance, and as overseers of the rituals (mqaddemat, pl.). The second section, set in France and Morocco, examines the movement of the Gnawa and their musical practice into the global marketplace. (for the entire review click here)

Abderrahim Askouri — Moroccan Pop Innovator

with 3 comments

In 2002, I spent a year in Morocco researching the emerging alternative music scene in Casablanca. Most of my attention went to the creation of a new genre of  Moroccan music that soon carried the  label “fusion.” Heavily influenced by French fusion bands, such as Gnawa Diffusion, Moroccan fusion blended Moroccan genres (cha’abi, gnawa, houari…) with rock, rap, salsa (and other international–mostly Black Atlantic–genres). Fusion also built upon earlier musical blendings. One of the roots of fusion was the music of the ’70s, which included the folk revival that included bands such as Nass el Ghiwane. Less remembered were solo urban artists, such as Abderrahim Askouri, described to me as a “musician’s musician” from Hay Mohammadi in Casablanca who influenced Nass el Ghiwane and other folk revival artists and also Khaled who spent a couple of years refining his chops in the clubs of Casa before returning to Oran and becoming a rai superstar.

Record producer Maurice El Baz played me some Askouri tracks but despite an evening searching cassette shops in popular quartiers of Casa, I never obtained my own copy of Askouri’s work. I just stumbled upon a posting by Abdel Halim El Hachimi on his Tales of Bradistan on Abderrahim Askouri and had to pass it on. Now, I got to get a copy of the cd Abdel so luckily found.  A final note Abderrahim Askouri’s nephew Younes Askouri is a very talented singer-songwriter working in Casa today, a member of the 21st century fusion scene (YouTube clip below).

Abderrahim Askouri -- click on album cover to read the story

Written by Jeffrey Callen

February 5, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Moroccan rapper Don Bigg “crosses over”

leave a comment »

When I interviewed Don Bigg in Casablanca in 2008, he told me that his goal was for his albums to be in the rap bins at Virgin and FNAC, not the World Music bin. Steeped in the hip-hop tradition, there was no place other than the rap category where his music belonged — still, as a non-Western artist (rapping in Moroccan Arabic), there was always a chance he’d end up in the World Music bin. His new album Byad ou K7al (Black & White), released 24 Dec. 2009, reached #10 on the Amazon (France) list of best-selling album downloads. A chart without genre breakdowns (no bins, virtual or otherwise) creates another kind of reality. If you search “musique du monde” on Amazon (France) Bigg is nowhere to be found but search in the “hip-hop/rap” category and, voila, there are the tracks from his new album.

Here’s “Itoub” from Bigg’s new album:

TRANSLATION OF ITOUB courtesy of Don Bigg (much respect to the big man)

GOD BLESS (ITOUB)

Yeah
That’s what’s up
I see you man
Thank you thank you thank you
God bless God bless God bless God bless
That’s what’s up that’s what’s up
God bless God bless God bless God bless

HOOK 1
Those who held me down since day one man
Today I wanna sing about them man
I wanna stand up, salute them and say
God bless God bless God bless God bless
Thank you thank you thank you man
God bless God bless God bless God bless
Thank you thank you thank you man

VERSE 1
To all those who held me down since the beginning, God bless, god bless and thank you
I ain’t never gon’ forget where I came from and thorns are
Erect at home and come see that
Bigg ain’t never gon’ recover from the rap music sickness
I ain’t never gon’ forget y’all no matter what happens
In front of my parents, moms and pops happy
See me in the papers remember all
The rehearsing and chilling in the hallway
Aah yeah, that’s what’s up man
I won’t forget Masta Flow back in the days of “lblan bayn”
Yo Bigg, rap in Arabic
What you crazy, you trynna make a fool of me?
If I hadn’t followed Masta Flow’s advice in that room
You would’ve never bought the cd I wanted
You would’ve never heard Bigg on the beat
And I would’ve never stood in front of you and sang

HOOK 2
Those who held me down since day one man
Today I wanna sing about them man
I wanna stand up, salute them and say
God bless God bless God bless God bless
Thank you thank you thank you man
God bless God bless God bless God bless
Thank you thank you thank you man

VERSE 2
Yo Imam Malik, you where I put my head up at
That’s where I learned to rap when I used to cut class
They used to call me a hard-headed shorty
I used to pass the year, fighting with my teeth
Whether they wanted or not, I used to pass
Even though the whole year I be in the school yard kissing
Since a kid my intention was making madd loot
Don’t believe me? Ask 7ershawy
College saw me on the road to Jdida
It was the school bus, I ain’t had a whip
Mobb Deep in class, not the lollipop
God bless the copy center
When we graduated, they were to thank for our grades
It’s raining, and the nigga in the jaguar just slammed the door
God bless, now the niggaz with the sticks is here
They left those who started shit and fucked up those they wanted

HOOK 3
Those who held me down since day one man
Today I wanna sing about them man
I wanna stand up, salute them and say
God bless God bless God bless God bless
Thank you thank you thank you man
God bless God bless God bless God bless
Thank you thank you thank you man

VERSE 3
God bless, God bless the fans
Ladies and niggaz
I see y’all, keep pushing up the country with us
All those who bought my cd and didn’t regret it
God bless those who dissed me, the nerve of them! They got no shame
God bless all y’all brothers
Thank you thank you thank you man
Black and White, Black and White, and Moroccans Till Death
God bless the streets that showed me
The bad from the good and got me addicted to rap music
God bless the media that forgot me, that put me on, and that dirtied at my name
God bless the rappers that diss me
Get your ticket, tell them let me in the line
God bless belqas Hisham
Put two fingers up in the sky, staright

HOOK 4
Those who held me down since day one man
Today I wanna sing about them man
I wanna stand up, salute them and say
God bless God bless God bless God bless
Thank you thank you thank you man
God bless God bless God bless God bless
Thank you thank you thank you man

Those who held me down since day one man
Today I wanna sing about them man
I wanna stand up, salute them and say
God bless God bless God bless God bless
Thank you thank you thank you man
God bless God bless God bless God bless
Thank you thank you thank you man

Don Bigg’s MySpace page

Don Bigg Works the Room (from Afropop.org)

Written by Jeffrey Callen

December 28, 2009 at 9:48 am

Posted in Genre, Rap/Hip-Hop

Tagged with , ,

%d bloggers like this: