Über Khaled (Rai)
Khaled is the premier voice of rai in both France and Algeria. Born in the outskirts of Oran, Algeria in 1960, Khaled knew he wanted to play music as soon as he could talk. He grew up listening to rock and Moroccan music but it was rai, the much-maligned local music, that ultimately drew him in. Though he lacked family support, Khaled taught himself to play various instruments and was regularly cutting school to rehearse with his band by the age of fourteen. He dropped out of school before his fifteenth birthday and began releasing oodles of poorly recorded cassette tapes. Khaled was the first to replace violins with electric guitars in his band; when he included drum machines and synthesizers, his tape sales took off. In 1986 Khaled (known then as Cheb -- or "young" -- Khaled) was invited to perform in several European festivals; he soon released a debut single in France, "Hada Raikoum." Khaled moved to Paris in 1990 to escape the increasing fundamentalism that targetted Khaled and his colleagues for their "immoral" music. (Khaled's producer and several fellow singers would later be murdered in Algeria.) Khaled's commercial success in France was assured with the hit "Didi" off of 1992's Khaled and cemented by the massive hit "Aicha" from 1996's Sahra. Khaled has continued to experiment, dabbling in genres like reggae, hip-hop and zouk (among others) as the years go on.