Hoba Hoba Spirit, rock and gnawa

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An unexpected discovery that immediately bewitched us, a Moroccan group able to combine the best of rock and gnawa, the music of sub-Saharan slaves.

Hoba Hoba Spirit

Hoba Hoba Spirit is a Moroccan group born in Casablanca in 1998 and which, since then, has never ceased to amaze their audience thanks to sounds that mix the North and the South of the world. In fact, the band has always been one of the innovators in terms of messages and style, so much so that it is appreciated throughout Africa.

Hoba Hoba Spirit
The latest album by Hoba Hoba Spirit

Their lyrics are not afraid to show Moroccan society with its ups and downs. Sometimes provocative, sometimes irreverent, the group has never been afraid to express themselves, so much so that they chose to bring almost only pieces in Darija, the “Moroccan dialect”, even if with some small exceptions in English and French. The union of rock and gnawa also have a symbolic value: the union between the old and the new Morocco.


Gnawa is a genre of music that has its origins in the Arab conquest of Africa. At the time, many sultans and viziers used African slaves and this led to the formation of ever larger communities, each very careful to preserve their roots and their culture, even under the musical aspect. A process very similar to what will eventually lead reggae to become the genre we all know.

The similarities with this genre of music are not accidental, the same Hoba Hoba Spirit take their name from a piece by Bob Marley and there were many Western artists who came to Morocco to perfect their music with this art. Another feature very similar to its Caribbean relative is that it is a “ritual music”. The gnawa was in fact conceived as a means to be able to reach trance and thus be able to communicate with spirits, invoking benevolent or malevolent ones according to need.

Even today it continues to have this function in families of Gnawa origin, but compared to the past it has become much more popular and consequently can be heard even just walking around the city. The most important festival of all is the Mawazine which takes place in June in Essaouira and has seen the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana participate.

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