Raï music, arguably the most popular music style in the Middle East today, originated in the Algerian port city of Oran.

RELEASE DATE: Nov. 26
Raï music, arguably the most popular music style in the Middle East today, originated in the Algerian port city of Oran. The music is definitely a pop style, in the sense that it's extremely popular, yet it's also politically charged music that deals openly with social and sexual issues. Raï is more controversial in the Maghreb than gangster rap has been in the U.S. Raï draws musical inspiration from Arabic melodic patterns and instrumentation and blends these traditional sounds with electronica and Western rhythmic ideas. This compilation offers an excellent perspective on Raï, from the visceral groove of Cheika Remitti's "Rani Alla M'Rida" to the trance-like flow of Noria's "Ouin Rak Tergoud" and the simple arrangement that underpins Cheb Othman's powerful vocal on "Kayen Rebbi." Distributed by Ark 21.—PVV