Omar Shanti looks back on the raucous, rebellious, and symbolically rich life of the late Rachid Taha, including a never-before-published interview with the Algerian musician in May 2018, only four months before his untimely death.
Rachid Taha was an Algerian singer based in France. His music is influenced by many different styles such as rock, electronic, punk and raï. Born in 1958 in Algeria, he moved with his parents to France when he was ten years old. In 1981, while living in Lyon, Taha met Mohammed and Mokhtar Amini and the three of them, along with Djamel Dif and Eric Vaquer, would soon form a band.
In 1982, Taha was the lead vocalist for the rock group Carte de Sejour. He sang in both English and Arabic, inspired by the group The Clash. In 1986, Taha took a standard patriotic French song entitled Douce France which had originally been recorded by Charles Trenet in the 1940s, kept the lyrics but sang it with 'furious irony' which irritated many French listeners to the point where Taha’s version was banned from French radio. In 1989, Taha moved to Paris to launch his solo career with the release of Barbès in 1991.
Omar Shanti graduated from Northwestern University in 2018. His academic interests lie primarily on the interplay of politics, culture, and movement in the MENA region, with specific emphasis on the Maghreb and Palestine.
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