Rachid Baba Ahmed was one of the most forward-thinking raï artists and producers of the 1970’s and 80’s. Dubbed the ‘Jean-Michel Jarre of raï’ He is often credited with contributing to the globalization of the genre and helping it reach pop status both in its homeland of Algeria and abroad. Not only was Rachid a musical icon, but he was also a symbol of musical and artistic resistance during the Algerian Civil War and the harsh censorships and crackdowns that came along with it, leading to his eventual assassination outside of his record store in Oran in 1995.
A musical artifact that has been recently re-circulating around raï music collector forums and Facebook groups is a cassette mixtape by Rachid Baba and his frequent collaborator Fethi Baba entitled House-Raï-Music. Released in 1988, the tape seems to draw direct inspiration from the dance music explosion the time, borrowing hints of acid house and electro over the unmistakable vocals of Fadela and Sahraoui. This mix gives unique insight into one of the earliest house influences in the MENA region, and serves as a reminder of raï’s rise to acclaim as a leading ‘world music’ genre.