Raï is a form of popular Algerian music that emerged in the 1920 out of Oran, known as “little Paris” for its melting pot of culture and vibrant nightlife. After WWI, raï spoke to a younger generation looking for a change in traditional Islamic values and attitudes. Regional folkloric traditions merges with Western electric instrumentation and lyrical content that addressed social issues like disease and oppression from colonial powers in the region. Post-Algerian independence, the sound continued to modernise, bringing in influences from neighbouring Egypt, the US, UK and France, with the introduction of synthesizers, drum machines and electric guitars.
Over the next three decades, Raï’s reception continued to oscillate between the underground and mainstream depending on the government’s views on sexuality, alcoholism and cultural liberalism, of which raï dealt with directly. As such it continues to be seen as a form of protest music, steeped in the social and political history of Algeria.
Acid Arab chart the history of a sound that heavily influenced their new album, Jdid, out 18th October on Crammed Discs.
View the feature on Stamp The Wax