I certainly will not write a bio of Algerian-French/French-Algerian artist Rachid Taha.
First because i’m no good at it. Second because i’ve not even contacted him which would be “le minimum syndical” as we French say.
So ? I write this article about him because (coïncidence) i heard on the radio that he was about to release a new album – which is super great news. I also write these few lines because i think that Rachid Taha is more representative (but not only him) of that so-called « French Touch ». Definitely more than bands like Justice or Daft Punk.
Rachid Taha is a child of immigration who throughout his early age abided by the « French Republican Model ». He’s older than me, but we kinda had the same education. I had however a big advantage over him : i was not Algerian. Being a « second-generation immigrant » – born French but not French, you see the thing -, was not always the nicest thing to be in my small French village. But being from Africa – as a whole, that includes Maghreb -, was a serious drawback (at that time) in your pursuit of happiness.
This story, his story has left a deep mark in his work and music, and again it’s not a biography, but a few things need to be said.
The first band Rachid Taha played in was called Carte de Séjour (Residence Permit).
The first time i heard of them was because they released a song called Douce France (Sweet France). It’s a very patriotic, nostalgic song, that is related to Charles Trenet, himself being one of the most representative figures of Sweet old France.
So you understand that this band Carte de Séjour was already sending a strong message to the population and to its political reprensentatives (all members of French Parliament received a copy of the song at the release period).
Carte de Séjour – Douce France
The band split ages ago, but Rachid the lead singer went on.
The small revolution that Rachid Taha is fighting is not just about the recognition of multiethnic France, it is also about his curiosity and ability to welcome new genres of music and not remain secluded to his first music.
The message however has not changed.
Rachid Taha – Indie (1+1+1)
That track is for me quite a revolution. Artists were categorized according to their origins, and were expected to remain confined to non-modern music ; not him : “I will not change my path because of my name, i will not change my name beacause of my path.”
Rachid Taha – Ya Rayah
“Ya Rayah” is the one who leaves, the emmigrant.
Rachid Taha – Non non non
The song is a criticism of the loss of the principles France is however promoting Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (Brotherhood) mentioning the difficult social situation of that time : 2005, but it could actually work for the present time.
Oh, you think it’s a bit cheesy old school techno ? And then what do you say about that ?
Rachid Taha – Rock the Casbah/Rock el Casbah (live w/ Mick Jones)
The new album is named Zoom and has been supervised by Justin Adams, and will feature great colabs : among them Mick Jones, Brian Eno, and French artist Rodolph Burger. We know that there’ll be a cover of Elvis Presley‘s version of O Sole Mio : It’s now or never.
It should normally be released on March the 11th 2013. As a teaser you can listen and watch the live perf of Jamila, one of the new songs.
Rachid Taha – Jamila (live Transmusicales de Rennes 2012)
Sadly now i know to say the one who leaves, but i wish i could say the one who stays for long !