Cheb Mami :: Dellali
"I'm sorry, Sting, but who the hell is this A-Rab at the beginning of this song? The fans won't like it. They can't understand it... the first voice they hear isn't you. It won't work."
This is what Sting was told when Executives in Charge of Commercialisation first heard "Desert Rose" featuring Cheb Mami in parallel vocals, not back-up.
The "authorities" on american culture said it wouldn't fly, and they were wrong. I find that they are increasingly wrong these days, but are fortunately replaced by others who recognise the pulse of the nation with far better accuracy. The only problem with this self-correcting mechanism is that it takes too long.
For twenty years now Mami has been developing raï, which means 'advice' or 'opinion,' making it a growing phenomenon all over the world with the help of the king of raï, Khaled. raï is a music that found its beginnings, like all great music genres, in the slums of the ignored community. After years of acclaim in Africa (Algeria) and France, and following the grassroots path of reggae and rap to become a new voice in music for the people, raï is just now being recognised by the US. I guess that makes it official.
Dellali has been characterised as 'overproduced,' but I feel it's just quality shining through, and if critics classify that as overproduction, they can go back to listening to Foghat... we don't need them anymore. Nitin Sawhney's fingerprints are quite recognisable on the tracks he produced (5,6,8,13). In return, Mami appears on Nitin's Prophesy. This sort of wholsale cross-breeding of music is what ethnotechno is all about...