In most countries, his records are filed simply under "K," and throughout much of Europe, Africa and the Middle East, they regularly top the pop charts. He is from Algeria and sings primarily in Arabic. His success has changed how the business world considers "world music." His name is Khaled, "the king of rai" and leader of a musical movement that has incorporated touches of reggae, funk and salsa with catchy North African beats.
Kenza is Khaleds first studio album in more than three years. Like all of Khaled albums, Kenza is full of magical and energetic rai. While some familiar faces are back, Kenza features a different lineup compared to recent outings. Most notably, producers Don Was and Philippe Eidel are gone. Universal brought back Jean-Jacques Goldman to try and repeat some "French pop" magic with songs such as "Cest la nuit." While the song is destined to be a hit in France, it seems a bit "forced" as an attempt to re-create another "Aicha" (Khaleds song that reached number one in France), sadly stripping the track of all of its "rai-ness."
There are some other attempts introduce Khaled into new markets, including India and America. The second track, "El Harba Wine" brings together North African and Indian pop. Tablas meet darboukas as Khaled trades verses with Indian pop star Amar in an extremely danceable Bollywoodesque tune. The other blatant crossover attempt is a unique version of John Lennons "Imagine." Here, Khaled teams up with Israeli diva Noa, mixing Hebrew, Arabic and English lyrics, "Imagining no religion ..." While the spirit of this duet is certainly noble, the song itself seems passionless compared to Lennons. Fortunately, the rest of the album is in Arabic: 11 other tracks of trademark Khaled rai, sure to keep the dance floors smoking from Oman to Marseille, and from Beirut to Dearborn. So, program your CD players, skip a couple of industry-driven music marketing projects, and get ready for 55 minutes of pure magic.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at [email protected].
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.