Cheb Nasro has released well over 100 cassettes in his native Algeria. He's one of the most popular rai singers in the Middle East, yet Departures marks the belated U.S. debut for Mondo Melodia. Nasro

Cheb Nasro has released well over 100 cassettes in his native Algeria. He's one of the most popular rai singers in the Middle East, yet Departures marks the belated U.S. debut for Mondo Melodia. Nasro, who now lives in Miami, grew up in the port city of Oran, also the birthplace of rai, and

he has developed a particularly lyrical style of the genre. Whereas some rai artists have incorporated electronica into their sound, Nasro has remained more of a mainstream rai pop artist. Nasro's emotive style may remind some listeners of Portugese fado singers, though rai allows for tunes in a much wider range of tempos, and even an artist as straight-ahead as Nasro incorporates elements of salsa ("Mon amour") and reggae ("C'est pas la peine") in Departures. Cue up "Fatima" and "Akadt Aâlik Gualbi" for Nasro's quintessential rai style. Distributed by Universal Music Group.—PVV