Since rai music scrambled up from the slums and street markets of the Algerian port city Oran about 80 years ago, it has remained ineradicably urban, restless, acquisitive, and gregarious. As a lyric-heavy outlet for the female underclass, with slanguage extolling sex and nightlife while aggressively opposing French colonialism, rai was the original urchin rap. Since the European oppressor withdrew, rai's main opponents have been fundamentalists, both Marxists and Muslims. Well before the Armed Islamic Group assassinated love man Cheb Hasni in 1994—and the same gang or others gunned down progressive star producer Rachid Baba Ahmed in 1995—the rebel music was a target... More >>>