The Music Safari: Khaled Brings the Funk

Khaled, the King of Raï

An artist with a single name heralds greatness like Adele, Beyoncé and Cher. So it was a conscious decision when Algerian singer,Cheb Khaled, decided to drop the “Cheb” and just become “Khaled.”

He’s known as the “King of Raï.” Raï is a genre that originated in Algeria; a mix of regional and Western instruments which appeals to a younger generation and a wider audience. He’s the first musician to see international success in the genre; his 1996 album “Sahra” rose to No. 3 on the French album charts.

His latest album “C’est la vie,” which features songs in Arabic and French, reached 18 on the French record charts. The album was produced by RedOne, a Moroccan-Swedish producer known for hits such as Nicki Minaj’s “Starships” and Lady GaGa’s “Just Dance.” It’s no surprise that the eponymous first single reached No. 4 on the French charts and charted in Belgium, Sweden and Switzerland.

“C’est la vie” is a hybrid of Arabic and French, the verses being in Arabic and the chorus in French. With a memorable, catchy chorus, a pulsating beat, and Khaled’s strong vocals, this song is sure to have you moving your entire body. Even if you can’t speak French, the chorus is really easy to pick up:

On va s’aimer (We shall love)
On va danser (We shall dance)
Oui c’est la vie (Yes, this is life)
Lala, lalala…

Besides the single, another stand out track is “Wili Wili” which is an exclamation that means something along the lines of “Oh my God” in the Maghreb dialect of Arabic. The song opens with a guitar, setting the upbeat, frantic tone of the song. Even if you can’t understand Arabic, it’s easy to feel the conflict of the situation with Khaled’s fervent singing. This entire album has been my go-to pump-up album for the week.

He’s like the Algerian Lionel Richie

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