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Rachid the Casbah 

Wednesday, Jul 9 2008
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As an Arab immigrant in Europe, Algeria-born, France-based Rachid Taha has faced plenty of intolerance and xenophobia, experiences he channels into lyrics about racial prejudice and everyday hardships. His music mixes raw punk energy with the spontaneity of rai, the popular music that dominates Algerian streets and nightclubs. Originally a folkie genre, rai has evolved over the years, incorporating electronic instruments in recent decades. Taha is also clearly influenced by English rock: He scored a hit with "Rock el Casbah," a careful adaptation of the Clash classic. The revision clearly has the blessing of Clash guitarist Mick Jones, who has appeared onstage with him many times to perform the song.

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Ernest Barteldes

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