Sunday, February 11, 2018

Najat Aâtabou - Nouveau 92 جديد - A Whole New Bag - Hai Hai Hai!

Nouveau 92! A new sound and a new look for Najat Aâtabou. And a huge hit with "Wahdi Feddar" ("Alone at Home"), a.k.a. "Goul El Hak El Mout Kaina" ("Tell the Truth... Death is Real"), "Hadi Kedba Bayna" ("This is an Obvious Lie"), "Kedba Bayna, or "Hai Hai Hai".

New sound: We've shared several of Najat Aâtabou's early, oud- and bendir-driven albums here at Moroccan Tape Stash. (See here.) That stripped-down sound launched her to stardom in Morocco in the 1980's. (The one exception to this formula, in her early years, was a fascinating orchestral album in the chanson moderne style.) With "Nouveau 92", Najat went in a different sonic direction: the viola leads the melodic accompaniment and a funky synthesizer bass underpins a synth string section, while the rhythm section is driven by a darbuka and what sounds like a hi-hat. (If a full drum set is present, it's being played very lightly.) It's an unusual sound - not your typical viola-driven chaâbi texture. Top it off with Najat's fierce vocals, and you have something nouveau!

Huge hit: "Hadi Kedba Bayna" was an instant classic! The refrain features the repeated line "Hai Hai Hai", which is both a great singalong and an interjection expressing disbelief or annoyance, something like "whoa" or "oi" in English. And the verses were basically rhyming couplets, calling out her man for cheating on her and then lying about it. It's the type of song that can easily be incorporated into any group's repertoire and to which other singers can add new, amusing, and thematically appropriate lyrics.

"Nouveau 92" was the first Najat Aâtabou album I ever heard. When I first visited Morocco in 1992, the album was huge, especially "Kedba Bayna". The album was at one point published on CD in France (now out of print). "Kedba Bayna" was included (as "Just Tell Me The Truth") on the 1995 US compilation Morocco: Crossroads of Time (also now out of print).

In 2006, I had returned from a summer in Morocco and was watching a ball game on American TV, when during a Budweiser commercial I heard the violin riff from "Kedba Bayna" over a techno beat. Fearing I was having hallucinations, I incredulously emailed some folks and found that "Kedba Bayna" had been sampled in the song "Galvanize", released the previous year by the Chemical Brothers, featuring Q-Tip! That, at least, is still in print! (And you can find the commercial on YouTube.)

Reissue notes, for the discographically inclined: Here at Moroccan Tape Stash, I usually give you the running order of tracks exactly as they appear on the tapes. Sometimes this running order differs from what is printed on the j-card. I usually prefer to be faithful to the way the tapes were heard in thousands of Moroccan cassette players rather than the way one person transcribed the song titles when the j-card was going to print. For this album, though, I am going to go with the j-card running order. The copy I'm sharing here is not my original 1992 copy of the cassette - that one is long gone - but rather one I obtained several years later (probably in the late 1990s). I have a strong memory of this album beginning with "Wash Nsiti?", and of "Wahdi Feddar (Kedba Bayna)" being buried somewhere in the middle of the side, as is listed on the j-card. On this cassette, however, "Kedba Bayna" leads off side A.

I'm guessing that once "Kedba Bayna" became a big hit, the song order was switched so that it would appear at the beginning of the cassette, where it could be more easily found. In those days, if you went shopping for cassettes and wanted a particular song, the tape seller would pop the cassette into a deck and play it, so you knew you were getting the correct tape. That's much easier to do when the song isn't somewhere in the middle of the tape.

So... I've resequenced the running order to match what is on the j-card, because that is closer to my memory of my original 1992 copy than running order of the copy I digitized here. (And also I like it better.) For the record, the running order on this late 90's copy is: A1-Wahdi Feddar, A2 Sir Dmou3i, A3 Wayli A Lalla, A4 Ya 3achiri, B1-Wach Nsiti?, B2-Parle je t'ecoute, B3-Marad al 3ali.

Najat Aâtabou نجاة اعتابو
Nouveau 92 جديد
Edition Hassania cassette EH1460 (1992)
1) Wash Nsiti? واش نسيتي؟
2) Sir Dmou3i سير دموعي
3) Wahdi Feddar (Hadi Kedba Banya)
       وحدي في الدار (هادي كدبة باينة)
4) Wayli A Lalla وايلي الالّة
5) Parle Je T'Ecoute
6) Ya 3achiri يا عشيري
7) Marad al 3ali ماراد العالي

Get it all here.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Najat Aâtabou - Attention a Monsieur (2000)

Watch out, Mister! Najat Aâtabou sez: jealousy and suspicion will give you high blood pressure!

This album dates from 2000. It wasn't a huge success, but I enjoyed it at the time, especially the title track. In those days, Najat Aatabou was married to musician/producer Hassan Dikouk, who produced some of her hits of the 90s including the great 1996 smash Mali Ana Ma ândi Zhar. I believe the relationship had its ups and downs before they eventually divorced. (According to this 2016 interview with Dikouk, they split in 2002. However, they were still performing together as late as this clip from New Year's 2004-5.) This album apparently comes from one of the down times - she actually calls out Hassan by name at the end of verse one, substituting "A Hassan" for the anonymous "A Monsieur" (2:14).

The album, like most of Najat's, 1990s albums, has a mainstream chaâbi sound to it: viola, keyboards, and darbuka support her always strong vocals, along with a male response choir. I don't know why she chose to move away from the oud- and bendir-driven sounds that characterized her earlier albums. Whatever it was, her 1992 album in that vein was wildly successful, containing the smash Hadi Kedba Bayna, and subsequent albums followed a similar format. (That album used to be available on CD, but seems to be long out of print. Perhaps I'll digitize my tape copy for y'all - it's a good one!)

Najat Aâtabou - نجاة اعتابو
Attention a Monsieur - أطونسيو أمسيو
Edition Sonya Disque cassette T.C. 1780 (2000)
1) Attention a Monsieur أطونسيو أمسيو / Avec Moi أڤيك موا
2) A Lalla Hadri ‘Aynik ألالة حدري عينيك / Mali ‘ala Hali ماي على حالي
3) Bla Ma Tkdeb ‘Aliya بلا ماتكدب علي
4) Moulay ‘Abdellah Ben Hsein عبد الله بن احسين
5) Nta Lli Hayrtini أنت اللي حيرتيني

Get it all here.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Fatima el Houaria, and 2017 blog roundup of North African women's music posts

Wow, 2017 comes to a close. Some of this year was pretty awful, at least here in the US. And our current leadership won't be doing anything to address mass gun violence, climate change, and numerous other ills.

Yet hope and light continue to shine forth here and there. The #metoo movement is bringing some long overdue attention to pernicious, pervasive male behavior. I hope that some positive culture change comes out of it.

So in honor of #metoo, here's a tape of some badass Houariyat from Marrakech. This style of music just delights me. Raucous drumming and hearty, bawdy call/response singing. This joyful music is made by women, for women, to enjoy primarily among themselves.

Wishing goodness, blessings, and fulfilling grooves to you all in the new year!

Fatima el Houaria, Vol. 2
Safi Disque cassette, ca. 2001 
1) Diggu Li L3youn Digga Roumiya
2) Douwaya Nhakoum Llah 3liya Rjaya f-Llah
3) Wa Mwaliya Ya Mwaliya
4) Farha f-Salatu 3a n-Nbi
5) Ma Khellali Ma Gal Fiya Klam L3ar 
6) A Mwi Ya Dada, Wa Ya Lalla

Get it all here.

Here also are some great 2017 posts from the music blogosphere, sharing recordings of North African women's music:

Wallahi le Zein! - Unreleased DIMI mint ABBA from the late 1990s : Rissala 
Fantastic, ecstatic, electric recording of a private concert of the late, great Mauritanian singer. And excellent notes about concerts and contexts from Matthew Lavoie, formerly of the Music Time in Africa blog.

ARAB TUNES: The Musical Heritage of Algeria : Teldja ثلجة
Deligtful compilation of tunes from the Algerian chaoui singer Teldja.

Maghreb Sharit No 6 - Moroccan Ladies of Tichkaphone and Koutoubiaphone

Latest in a continuing series of Moroccan mix tapes (produced on tape!), #6 is a compilation of songs from the Tichkaphone/Koutoubiaphone label.

Gharamophone: Reinette l’Oranaise – Ya biadi ya nas – Polyphon, c. 1934

History of the song "Ya biadi ya nas", which became well known in Morocco and Algeria, as well as its first recording, by the great Reinette l'Oranaise. Gharamophone is Chris Silver's continuation of his earlier, fine blog Jewish Maghrib Jukebox.

K7 Maghreb: Cheikha Rahma [EHA 36]

KILLER! Most of the folk song styles I've heard from northwest Algeria/northeast Morocco features the raspy gasba flutes, like you would hear on recordings by Cheikha Remitti. This tape features the Algerian singer Cheikha Rahma, performing with an awesome double-horned, double-reed instrument that I believe is called a zamar. If you visit the blogpost, you'll find a great YouTube video showing Cheikha Rahma performing with one of these groups. 


Bodega Pop: Spice Ray
Bodega Pop has returned with a great stash of cassettes recently obtained in Queens. This unusual cassette appears to be a Moroccan rai album credited to "Spice Ray" (the Moroccan rai Spice Girls?), and contains several songs that address social issues, including an opening track lamenting the death of children under bombs in Iraq.