PRINT September 1990



The young girl wants to get married

The divorced woman wants to break loose

The married woman wants a divorce

The married woman wants to break loose

The married woman wants to go wild

You’ve done what you wanted

You’ve done what you decided

My God, my God, her husband’s asleep

—Cheb Khaled, “Hada Raykoum” (It’s your opinion)

AFTER REGGAE, JUJU, fado, zouk, Ofra Haza, and lambada, Algerian rai (pronounced like the whiskey) is making its way to the center of the world-music stage. And for good reason: the rhythms are not only different but irresistibly danceable, a syncopated mix of melody and percussion overlaid with galvanizing vocals that translate themselves from street Arabic into the universal language of the heart. Cheb Khaled, the undisputed “King of Rai,” has made a name for himself from London to Tokyo, and if his long-announced U.S. debut has yet to materialize, Cheb Mami, the

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