b. Khaled Hadj Brahim, 29 February 1960, Sidi-El-Houari, Oran, Algeria. Singing and playing accordion from an early age, Khaled dropped out of school to pursue a musical career in spite of the disapproval of his father (a policeman). From 1976 he released a series of singles that revolutionized Algerian rai music by introducing drum machines, synthesizers and lyrics celebrating alcohol, sex and partying (some of these early releases are collected on the 1996 release Young Khaled). Khaled was also a popular local live attraction, performing at weddings and circumcisions as well as nightclubs. His highly charged and physical onstage persona had much the same effect on Algeria’s youth as Elvis Presley’s live shows had on teenage Americans in the 50s. By the early 80s Cheb Khaled (Cheb, meaning ‘young’, was the name given to Khaled and the singers who followed him in order to differentiate him from older, more traditional performers) was banned from Algerian television and radio. However, a performance at Algeria’s first National Rai Festival took the country by storm, leading to a lifting of the ban. He moved to France in 1986, soon becoming a star among the large immigrant North African population. Hada Raykoum, released in 1987, had originally appeared in Algeria two years earlier and was the first rai album to be released internationally. Kutche was Khaled’s first European recording. Produced in collaboration with Safy Boutella, it introduced a more sophisticated sound, incorporating elements of funk, jazz and reggae. Dropping the ‘Cheb’ from his name, the singer released Khaled in 1992. Co-produced by Don Was and Michael Brook, the album’s rai/rock/electro funk fusion was best exemplified by the single ‘Didi’, a huge hit in many countries throughout the world (including India where a Hindi version was released). By now unable to return to Algeria, where the growing Islamic Fundamentalist movement attacked him for his outspokenly hedonistic stance, Khaled released N’ssi N’ssi in 1993. Again featuring some songs produced by Don Was, this time co-producer Philippe Eidel added sweeping middle Eastern strings to the other tracks. Sahra, released in 1996, embraced an even wider range of influences. Some of the tracks were recorded in Jamaica with producer Clive Hunt and local musicians such as Dean Fraser and the I-Threes. Eidel and Was both contributed tracks, while the French-language ballad ‘Aicha’ was produced by Jean-Jacques Goldman and became a huge hit throughout mainland Europe and beyond. In 1997, Khaled toured extensively to promote Sahra. The follow-up Hafla (meaning ‘party’) was recorded at concerts in Belgium and France during this tour, backed by a slick, multicultural band and, on some songs, accompanied by enthusiastic mass singing from the audience. The double live 1, 2, 3 Soleils was recorded at the POPB in Paris, France and produced by Steve Hillage. It featured Khaled alongside fellow Paris-based Algerian stars Rachid Taha and Faudel performing their best known songs with backing from a large band, including string sections from France and Egypt. The studio album Kenza was produced by UK guitarist Steve Hillage and Lati Kronlund of New York collective Brooklyn Funk Essential. In 2004, Khaled made his debut for the Wrasse Records label with the ‘back to the roots’ album Ya-Rayi.Portions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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