Tuesday, November 23, 2010

North African's influences in French music

As you know, France had colonies in North Africa: Tunisia and Morocco (until 1956), and Algeria (a French département until 1962) so migrations had been intense between France and those countries. Thus, Arabs, Kabyles, Sefarade Jews have enriched French music.

During the first half of the XXth century, there were already great musicians of North African descent living in France; especially Kabyles from Algeria. The great Cheikh El Hasnaoui was singing in the Algerian chaâbi style, but met success only in the Kabyle community. On the other hand, some second generation immigrants became huge stars of typical chanson, like Mouloudji, Alain Bashung and... Edith Piaf!

Nowadays, there are typical north African music styles popular in France, especially among north African community but some are mainstream (like raï). There are also many singers from North African descent playing classic French music. In this post, I will only introduce you the north African influence on French styles, especially during the last 20 years, in rock, rap or chanson. I won't distinguish between all different north African musics which are very various, only because I don't knoow enough about them.

One of the first to mix French popular music with Arab music in France may have been Rachid Taha and his band Carte de séjour in the early 80's. As you see in the name of the band which means "Green card", political issues are not far when it comes to cultural mixing and the issues of the identity and recognition of second generation immigrants. To understand the context of the following songs, you have to keep in mind that the 1980's were also the time of the rise of xenophobic and racist party Front National...

Carte de Séjour - Zoubida (1982)

One of their success was the cover of Charles Trenet's classic track "Douce France" whose lyrics are a nostalgic portray of France written during German Occupation of France during World War II.

Carte de Séjour - Douce France (1943/1986)

One of the greatest hit of the world famous Mano Negra (Manu Chao's band) was a cover of an Arab song, sung by Philippe Teboul.

Mano Negra - Sidi'h'bidi (1989)

Influences of North African musics can also be found with Zebda, the band led by Magyd Cherfi, such as this hit with the chorus sung in Arab.

Zebda - Oualalaradime (1998)

Now, songs less rock and more chanson.

A beautiful love song with also a chorus sung in Arab:

Les Têtes Raides - Manuela (1996)

Magyd Cherfi - En enfer (2004)

Brigitte Fontaine is one of the greatest French singer. Many of her songs were composed by Areski Belkacem who was influenced by north African music, especially chaâbi.

Brigitte Fontaine - Le Nougat (1988)

Brigitte Fontaine - Guadalquivir (2001)

In French rap, influences of North African musics can also sometimes be found, such as in this two classics of French rap.

A song that deal with the relation between second generation immigrants and the native home of their parents, called in French "bled".
113 - Tonton du bled (produced by DJ Medhi, 1999)

Lunatic - Pas Le Temps Pour Les Regrets (2000) (with the sample of Lebanon star Fairuz's Zahrat El Madaen)

The song that was featured in Ocean's 12 laser scene.
La Caution - Thé à la menthe (2005) (Mint tea).

And to conclude, listen to Helwa ya baladi sung by the French pop star, Dalida, who grew up in Egypt before moving to France. The song composed by Gilbert Sinoué and Jeff Barnel for her, is an hymn to her native country.
Dalida -
Helwa ya baladi (1979)


Snitch #2 said...

I like how you used this music. It was really creative.

City Guide said...

I really like your blog and the logo!
You should see mine about Barcelona and what to do there.


Salim said...

I noticed that your blog does not cover anything from Iran, so I thought you may find it interesting:
Here is my blog as an Iranian composer in progressive rock genre with some Persian music influences:


I would be happy if you stop by for a while :)


Edgar Gutierrez said...

how is la caution the a la menthe influenced by north africa

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