Cheb Mami, the prince of Raï

This article is also available in: Italiano

Nicknamed “the prince of Raï”, Cheb Mami is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most representative artists of the genre, managing to truly convey what Raï is.

Cheb Mami, to Saïda from Super Bowl

Cheb Mami was born, in 1966, in Graba el Wed, a populous neighborhood of Saïda, a city located south of Oran, the home of the Raï. After making himself known at the local level with the victory in various singing competitions, in 1985 he moved to Paris, where he will bring his talent to the first leap in quality, held back only by the military lever that will bring him back home for 4 years.

Cheb mami
Sting and Cheb Mami

In 1989 he finally returned to the French capital, becoming a true star of the genre, starting to perform concerts in Europe and the States. The consecration to superstar, however, will come in 1999 thanks to the piece “Desert Rose” sung together with Sting. The song will immediately be one of the most listened to of the year, leading the two artists to perform even at the Super Bowl final, a result equaled (perhaps) only by Cheb Khaled with the opening of the South African World Cup. Over the years his fame will continue to grow, making him truly become the “Prince of Raï“. Sore point: between 2009 and 2010 he was sentenced to 5 years in prison for organizing the kidnapping and violence against his ex-partner Isabelle Simon, managing to avoid prison on the second appeal.

Andalusian Raï

The timbre is certainly the most legendary feature of this incredible artist, a skill that has allowed him to stand out over many of his colleagues over the years. Although Cheb Mami is not from Oran, in fact, in his vocal cords the melodies typical of that city and its history are engraved, as in no other.

In his voice one can indeed see a very clear hybrid of Andalusian tones mixed with other typically Arabic ones, with a background that lies between the two continents, recalling Gypsy rhythms, a legacy of a distant past in common. Listening to Cheb Mami is comparable to a jump in the history of this part of Algeria.

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