Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Pigeons and Peace: Rachid Taha and "El H'mame"

Our random song for today is by Rachid Taha. El H'Mame is from Taha's 1998 album Diwan. Originally from Algeria but now based in France, Taha's music is influenced by rock, punk, electronica and Algerian raï and has been described as "sonically adventurous." He first became exposed to music through his Algerian culture, but moved to France as a child where in his teens he worked menial jobs during the day and DJ'd at night playing Arab music, rap, funk, salsa and other genres. He also soaked up raï, which was a music of political protest in Algeria during the 1980s. He co-founded a rock band in 1981 and became lead vocalist. Later in the 80s he went solo, and in 1989 he recorded with producer Don Was playing Arabic style beats, but didn't achieve much success with American audiences. In 1998 he recorded his breakthrough album Diwan, which were remakes of songs from Algerian and Arab traditions. He is known for playing the mandolute, which is essentially a fretted oud. He is described as an eclectic artist who is gregarious, quick with a smile, and who loves to party through the night. The song is about pigeons serving as a metaphor for peace.