World music is a story which started long ago in Morocco. Just after World War2 to be precise, when Paul Bowles and the Beat generation came to Tanger, followed by musicians looking for their (imagined) roots: guitar player Brian Jones for sure, but also free jazz musicians like Ornette Coleman or Archie Shepp among many others. Without forgetting the very first of all, the great pianist Randy Weston.
And almost every time, the beating heart of those encounters was the musical tradition of the gnawas. A tradition revisited by two bands still very active on the Moroccan stage, three decades after they appeared : Nass el-Ghiwane (see previous post) and Jil Jilala.
But like the previous countries already visited, there is a new impulse for alternative music mixing world traditions. In Morocco, the starting point for this phenomena is the L’Boulevard festival, organised in Casablanca since 1998.
Dragging hundreds of thousands young Moroccans, l’Boulevard festival became a kind of social event, giving the opportunity for a part of the Moroccan youth to express its own way of life, encapsulated by a funny moto: H’mar wa bkheer (I’m a donkey, and I’m proud of it!).
Meaning more or less “having a great time”, nayda is another Moroccan expression which expresses this counter-culture in which hip-hop music plays a leading role. But with the growing success of “dirty” rap singers like Taoufik Hazeb “Al-Khasser” (the “rude”), there is a growing risk of commercial and political hijacking.
Recently, a liberal publication like Telquel has expressed openly its satisfaction after king Mohamed VI declaration in favour of financial support to some “good” local rap musicians. A good news for the liberal wing as many Islamic circles are criticizing everything which has to do with alternative music. But not necessarily a good news for the music itself…
With the link to the more elaborated post in French, links to publications (in French too) dealing with alternative music in Morocco :
Nextline, Raptiviste, Rap-bladi and Marock magazine (actually off-line).
And the very interesting trailer of a documentary about the Nayda phenomenon.