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Popular Culture and the Performing Arts

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A website for K-12 educators featuring innovative resource on the culture, geography, history and religions of the Middle East, including essays, classroom activities, downloadable multimedia content and interactive Google Earth tours.


Rachid Taha-Rock the Casbah

From: Universal Music

© 2005, Universal Music

This clip is 12.41 megabytes in size

Running time is 4 minutes and 41 seconds

Rachdi Taha was born in Oran, Algeria in 1958 but emigrated with his family to France when he was ten. He grew up in Alsace and then the Vosges mountain region of France. In 1979 he got a job selling books door-to-door and in then moved to Lyon to work in factory. It was there that the young artist was finally able to embark on a career in music, joining two brothers in a trio called "Carte de séjour" (residence permit). At a time when Le Front National (National Front), and anti-immigrant right wing party was beginning to garner support, Taha and his trio gave voice to a large population of "second-generation immigrants" who were also beginning to assert their rights. The band achieved great success, getting Taha off the factory floor and into the studio, then off on world tours. In 1989 the band broke up, and Taha embarked on a solo career. Since then he has released seven solo albums, including a live record and a greatest hits compilation, in addition to the 1,2,3 Soleils live album he recorded with Faudel and Khaled. Generally working with the British producer Steve Hillage, Taha's music has always remained bold, experimental, and politically engaged. It is not easily classified, either. For example, on "Diwan" he records songs from Egyptian films and Maghrebi popular music, but with his own rock and roll/raï flavor, whereas on "Made in Medina" he records a composition with Afrobeat superstar Femi Kuti. His most recent album, "Tekitoi?" includes his "Arabized" remake of the Clash's biggest hit, "Rock the Casbah" which you can hear in this clip. The album also maintains the singers out-spokeness on highly charged political issues, with songs on this album denouncing the political, social and economic stagnation of the Arab world and Africa and their authoritarian rulers, racism in France and elsewhere, and engaging many other important issues.

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