A fun fact that I learnt recently is that Raï means “opinion”.
One of the legends of the genre is Cheb Khaled, now considered to be the king of Raï music.
Cheb Khaled’s song Aicha rose in the global charts when I was about 12 and it was absolutely love at first listen. I loved this song so much that I even added it to the soundtracks of my life-post I wrote many years ago.
I love the song for its catchy melody and general atmosphere but I think its meaning was kind of lost to me. I may have understood that it was about a lady named Aicha and maybe even that the singer though she was beautiful and desirable. The gifts and praise he was raining down on Aicha, just to earn himself a glance, may have started to make sense as I learned French at school.
But it wasn’t until I really looked into the lyrics, many years later, that I saw that, in the bridge of the song, Aicha herself speaks up and says she will have none of it.
Khaled’s powerful voice never fails to sends chills down my spine when he wails out her only true desire:
Equal rights, respect every day and love!
You tell them, Aicha!
Each time I hear it, I realize how powerful this interlude in the song still is. Love it to bits. I’d name my daughter Aicha, just for those three lines.