Tuesday, December 26, 2023

2003 Pop Culture Snapshot in Dqiqi From - Dakka El Marrakechia Nou Nou - Youm Wara Youm

I've extolled the virtues of dqiqiya (a.k.a. tkitikate) men's percussion and vocal groups in these pages before, most comprehensively in the post Tkitikate! Tkitikate! Party Time! Excellent!. I went as far as to posit the genre as "an active repository of Moroccan musical memory... like a jukebox". 

To be clear, I meant to say that A GOOD, LIVE DQIQIYA GROUP functions like that. 

Clown Sings About Pokémon cassette j-cardOn the other hand, there is a variety of commercial cassette that while exhibiting some sonic similarities to dqiqiya is primarily a cash-in on whatever is floating around in pop culture at the moment. This type of cassette does have the potential to be awesome, depending on how you feel about global pop hits, novelty tunes, and theme songs to TV programs. A prime example of this is the unforgettable Clown Sings About Pokémon cassette I shared here many moons ago.

However, this sort of cassette should not be taken as representative of the genre of dqiqiya. And it CERTAINLY should not be taken as representing the genre of Daqqa Marrakchia. (For my explication of the confusion between Daqqa Marrakchia and Dqiqiyya, see my post Ashura in Marrakech - Daqqa Marrakchiya.)

All of this is a preface to talking about today's offering a 2003 cassette credited to a group called Dakka El Marrakechia Nou Nou. It is not a recording of the folkloric genre of Daqqa Marrakchiya, and it is not a recording of a standard dqiqiya group. It is a studio creation with some of the sonic trappings of dqiqiya, presenting itself with the name Daqqa Marrakchiya, and trying to have some fun (and cash in) on the latest pop culture trends.

For full disclosure, I had to shed a lot of baggage before writing about this novelty cassette because it pushed so many of my musical and musicological buttons. Here's what I scribbled down while I was listening to the tape:

  • I know I should get over it, but it bugs me that men's percussion and vocal ensembles, more properly known as tkitikate or dqiqiya, are typically sold under the name of Dakka Marrakchiya.
  • Real tkitikate keep the groove going and the crowd interested by using actual songs with actual lyrics, not by inserting singalong soccer-type chant melodies with no lyrics - that just seems lazy to me. . [egad, the blogger as arbiter of tkitikate authenticity 🤦🏻‍♂️]
  • God, who thought that a synth bass and a little keyboard flute would be a good thing with this music. It's already defanged from having much bite by the boring drum machine replacing real drums. [note: the blogger identifies as a bass player and is particularly allergic to synth basses and drum machines from actual gigging]
  • The backup vocals are too smooth. I mean, I really need to shut up. What do I expect from commercial chaabi from Casablanca trying to brand itself as dakka marrakchia.
  • Why the f--- would you do this sort of music with a drum machine and not with real drums. Again, I am a f---ing hypocrite, 'cos I DO LIKE drum machines if they're AS IN YOUR FACE AS ACTUAL DRUMS. I mean this sounds like the beats you'd put to some of that smooth casablanca chaabi, which sort of works when your lead instrument is a scratchy viola. BUT WHEN YOUR MAIN INSTRUMENT IS THE DRUMS, WHY NOT MAKE THE DRUMS DRIVE THE GROOVE INSTEAD OF REMAINING EXACTLY THE SAME THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE TRACK.

Wow, so much vitriol for a harmless novelty cassette. Once I calmed down, I was able to enjoy it on its own flawed terms as a fun chaabi-rhythm time capsule of pop culture items that were "viral" in 2003 (before we were using the term viral). Here's some of what you get:

The album is named Youm Wara Youm, a reference to the SMASH 2002 HIT of the same name by Samira Said with Cheb Mami. 

I still ADORE that song:

The Dakka el Marrakchia Nou Nou song is nothing close to being a cover version of Youm Wara Youm. It does retain the lyrics

Youm wara youm
Habibi ma gani noum
Habibi wa dini git

But it's not sung in anything similar to the melody of the original.

Track 2 appears to be based on the theme song to a Moroccan TV program from 2002, Dar Mwi Hniya (Mwi Hniya's House)

There are some entertaining verses where the singer is hurling curses at his cell phone for dropping the signal while he's talking to his sweetheart. And there's a silly solfege singalong.

And the final track seems to be based on the Egyptian novelty song from 2002 "Baba Fein", here called by the recurring lyric "Âmmu Âmmu"

If you're in the mood for it, it's sort of entertaining in the way that the original was, that is, it's cute to hear kids delivering clever rhyming couplets making excuses to the Uncle (Âmmu) about why their father isn't at home.

Si Mohamed Aguir (right) wearing a taguia
One thing I can't figure out, though, is the cover art for the album. What are the cone-shaped things superimposed on top of these ladies' heads? Are they supposed to resemble the taguia hats worn by actual tqitikate groups? Nobody I showed this to has any idea what is going on. The general consensus is that it's tkharbiqa (great Moroccan term meaning something like "nonsense", "junk" or "whatever")

Best Wishes to all for a better 2024. Ceasefire Now.

Dakka El Marrakechia Nou Nou الدقة المراكشية نو نو
Youm Wara Youm يعم ورا يوم

Edition Safi cassette SD 2003 انتاج الصافي

A1 Youm Wara Youm يعم ورا يوم
   and the best current songs وأروع الأغاني الحالية

B1 Mwi Hniya مي هنية
B2 Âmmu Âmmu عمو عمو

320 | FLAC

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Fatima Tamrrakchit

Fatima Tamrrakchit cassette j-card

This tape comes to us from... well, down the street in El Cerrito, California, where I found and purchased it! This is a swell album from singer Fatima Tamrrakchit. The texture on every song is a bit different - there's always some combination of the typical Soussi amarg ensemble (rrbab fiddle, lotar lute or banjo) with additional instruments (electric guitar, a violin, maybe that was a sythn banjo, and some sort of bass instrument - it's a bit deep in the mix (which is fine), it could be a keyboard, or it might be a big Gnawa guinbri). The percussionists keep things lively and at times wild.

I found very little information about Fatima Tamrrakchit online. From what I gather from YouTube and TikTok comment, she died at a young age in April 1998.

There is another singer with the same name who is currently active but who should not be confused with the first Fatima Tamrrakchit.

Digital Mastering Note: I used the new "Mastering Assistant" that was released in the latest update of Logic Pro X. Part of the tool is an AI-driven analysis that can produce a custom EQ for whatever you're working on. Sort of freaks me out, but it's also kind of amazing. I used it here, and I think it sounds pretty good. You can find all of these tracks on YouTube, if you don't like this. (The YouTube clips are probably from a better source than my tape here anyway, but y'all come here for a bit of that analog patina, right?)

Hope you and your loved ones are well. Praying for a just peace.

Fatima Tamrrakchit فاطمة تمراكشيت

Production Disco cassette PD47

A1 Takat Ah Igh Trgha Dora
A2 Dounit Ra Tzri
B1 Or Sarn Orrigh Lhob

B2 Awino Samhiyi Samhaghak
B3 Lhem Ortn Sol Nra

FLAC | 320


Saturday, November 4, 2023

Aziza El Menkassia - Special Gnawa II emoluV

I had asked the tape seller if he had any Gnawa tapes. He pulled down this one, popped it in the deck for me, and pushed play. I thought to myself this seems to me like anti-Gnawa. I wanted the warm, woody, resonant rumble of the sintir and call & response vocals of full-throated baritones. What I got was some crazy electro-drum-and-synth driving home the perpetual Moroccan chaabi 6/8 beat, and a young lady leading the call and response vocals. And yet the j-card read "Special Gnawa" and had pictures of Gnawa musicians on it, so I grabbed it, figuring it would at least be interesting to figure out what about this music signified "Gnawa".
Now after many years of thinking and inking about Gnawa music, I return to this tape. What does my Gnawacized (mguennoui) ear tell me about this tape with the benefit of hindsight (hind-hearing? hind-audition?) Well, one of these songs would be heard during the trance part of the Gnawa lila ceremony, namely "Jilali Dawi Hali". (Type that title into the search bar on this blog and you'll find at least 4 Gnawa tapes that feature the song.) Many of the other songs can be heard at the end of lila ceremonies when Gnawa musicians play the fun popular songs they call chaabi or more specifically Soussia. Despite the Gnawi connotations of this album's songs, the musical arrangements aren't particularly Gnawa-inflected. They are, however, unusual. 
There's not much information about Aziza El Meknassia online, but the good folks over at Moroccan Tapes have shared another tape from this artist. Their description of the unusual rhythmic texture heard in Aziza's recordings is worth quoting here:
"One of her signatures that one can hear across most of her records is a unique way of arranging the typical Chaabi rhythm... [The] driving hi-hat and tam-tam give us a double-time 12/8 feel, while the kick and snare create a half-time 4/4 feel, almost like a rock backbeat (if you hear it the wrong way)."
Hope you enjoy it!

Aziza El Meknassia عزيزة المكناسية
Special Gnawa - Volume II

Voix Bab Mansour cassette 38 صوت باب منصور

01 Al Mwima Lhbiba الميمة لحبيبة
02 Ribou Ya Douk Lejbal ريبو يا دوك لجبال
     Ana Lli Dert Khairi Ou Ma Ouella Liya انا لي درت خيري وما ولا ليا

03 Chailah شايلاه
     Qalbi Derni
     Ana Zayra Moulay Ibrahim
     Lalla Chafia
04 Marrakech مراكش
     Laman Wahia Laman
     Jilali Dawi Hali
     Touria Laghzal

320 | FLAC

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Najat Tazi - Ya Saqi


Here's a swell rai album from singer Najat Tazi. This dates to 1992 or '93. Najat hails from the region of Taza in northeastern Morocco. The internet boasts dozens of her albums on international streaming platforms like YouTube, Spotify, etc. On some she sings in Riffian Tamazight (Tarrifit), and on others she sings in Moroccan Arabic. Despite this prolific output, I can find almost no details of her life or career online.

The one short article I found relates that she was born in the town of Aknoul, north of Taza, began her career singing backup for many artists, gained initial notoriety singing cover versions of songs by rai singers Cheb Khaled and Mimoun al Oujdi, and has subsequently recorded more than 50 albums. The article also links to a 2020 video interview, so if you know Tarrifit and find that she said something noteworthy, please let me know! [1] 

She performed at the big Mawazine festival in Rabat in 2016.

This album has some great early rai grooves and some unusual keyboard sounds. And Najat's voice is powerful. Dig this opening track:

Najat Tazi نجاة التازي
Fassiphone cassette 07/4 فاسيفون

c. 1992-93

A1 Ya Saqi يا ساقي
A2 Tkherrejti Âla Ouladi تخرجتي علی ولادي
A3 Démarrez ديماري
B1 Kounti Ghalia Kifache Rkhesti كنتي غاليا كيفاش رخصتي
B2 Zine Âlah Iseddou Âlia Lbibane الزين علاه يسدو عليه البيبان
B3 Ouelli Lia Ya Lâziz ولي ليا يالعزيز

320 | FLAC

[1] Najim Al-Sabaa (نجيم السبع). "Gzennaya stars around the world: The capable artist Najat Al-Tazi (نجوم اكزناية عبر العالم | الفنانة المقتدرة نجاة التازي)". https://gzennayamedia.blogspot.com/2020/11/blog-post_11.html

Interview excerpt on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdBGdYdcAUc

Full interview on RADAS TV program "Thawra n Rif": https://www.facebook.com/RADASTV1/videos/486435888975880/

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Capstan Keep a-Spinning - End The Occupation

I'll have some new old music to share in a few days. For the moment, here's an update to some old music I shared before.

When I first visited Morocco in 1992, Nass el Ghiwane had just released an album whose opening track "Intifada" commemorated the uprising in Palestine. The following year, the Oslo Accords seemed to indicate movement toward justice and reconciliation, but it was not to be. Now here we are thirty years later, seemingly further than ever from justice. 

I shared this album back in 2011. I've added a FLAC link in the original post. And here's the album as a YouTube playlist:

Keep your capstans a-spinning, thanks for visiting, and be well.  ❤️✊❤️🎵❤️