Rai Rebels album cover
Rai Rebels

Various Artists


Ahmad Baba Rachid had been pioneering the pop-Raï sound since the late 1970s, inviting local stars to record in his studio in the northwest of Algeria and adding electric guitars, drum machines, and synths. This 1988 Earthworks compilation captured that moment of transformation in Raï’s story, and was among the first to introduce it to the world, along with some of the artists who would become the genre’s biggest stars, like Cheb Khaled and Zahouania. Chaba Fadela And Cheb Sahraoui’s “N’sel Fik” is a killer, with their impassioned vocals and repetitive, hypnotic refrain, a rolling bass riff, springy synths, and a smattering of percussion.

Megan Iacobini de Fazio

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