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World Music CD Reviews Africa

Khaled

By Tom Pryor
Published August 1, 2005

Sahra
Island

Back in the late ’80s, the Algerian popular music called raï shed its gritty Oran roots and was reborn as global dance music. Riding the crest of this wave was the singer Khaled, the music’s first international superstar. 1997’s Sahra was Khaled’s breakthrough, propelled to the top of the European pop charts by the classic single “Aicha.” But the album was conceived as a global dance party, with Khaled exploring reggae, Latin and even Indian pop sounds as well. Still, despite the Don Was-produced gloss, Khaled never lost that gutbucket North African funk that remains raï music’s heart and soul.