Maalem Hamid El Kasri

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One of the last great masters of gnawa music, Hamid El Kasri brings a style that can unite all of Morocco with its tradition and history

Maalem Hamid el Kasri

Hamid el Kasri was born in 1961 in Ksar el Kebir, a city in Morocco halfway between Tangier and Rabat, in an ancient family of Gnawa music players. His grandmother, in particular, was a habit of layali, gnawa-based spiritual evenings, and this brought little Hamid closer to this art from an early age. His father, however, strongly opposed his love, enough to send him to live with his uncle in Rabat. The call of the krakebs, however, became stronger and stronger in the young man’s head, so much so that one day, sent to the souk to buy fabrics, he was enchanted an entire afternoon listening to this music.

Concerned by his nephew, his uncle allowed him to practice, sending him at the age of 7 to study Gnawa in a school in Tetouan, giving way to a continuous pilgrimage in search of the soul of this style, becoming a disciple of Maâlem Abdelouahed Stitou and Maâlem Alouane, two of the best known masters. His knowledge of several areas of Morocco allowed him in a short time to create something completely original, capable of representing a synthesis between the different types present in the country. Became officially Maâlem in turn, he began to become more and more famous in his art, so as to give life to many collaborations also with foreign artists, as well as becoming a permanent guest at the gnawa festival of Essaouira.

The real gnawa

Although still alive and in full artistic production, the songs and melodies of Hamid el Kasri speak the language of the past and tradition, allowing us to truly understand the origins of this genre. In fact, his Gnawa follows almost ancestral rhythms, which have remained almost unchanged since the arrival of the first sub-Saharan slaves in Morocco, real inventors of this art.

An artist who, if you are interested in deepening the genre, you absolutely cannot miss it, a time machine capable of truly making you live a gnawa experience.

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