CHAABI QUEENS AND MONUMENTAL MOSQUES

Jun 15, 2011 by        Blog, Documentation, Field Work, Morocco 2011

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[Casablanca, park near Ave. Mohammed VI, photo by John Francis Peters for The Fader]

Head over to The Fader to check out the second of my weekly Morocco updates for the month of June, accompanied by photos from John Francis Peters and, of course, music. (The first post is here.)

Here’s an excerpt:

I’ve spent the last several afternoons visiting Casablanca record labels and production houses like Ennassim, Fesmaatic, Box Music. They cluster around the bright, busy Ave. Mohammed VI, which is basically a 6-lane Frogger game played by real people. The musicians and shop owners usually end up asking me more questions than I ask them. “Why do you like this music? What are you doing here? Who else are you talking to?”

Ennassim’s tucked down an unlit corridor in a souq market called Laayounes. They put out a lot of records, but my favorites involve the utar, the Berber lute that looks a root vegetable. The utar’s country twang lends itself to lilting, spidery ballads. Badass utar players radiate out from the hills of central Morocco. One of my favorites, El Khozeimi, is part of the Enassim crew. He’s an older man with salt-and-pepper hair, and he records his male-female duets with a dusting of polite Auto-Tune. It’s lovely, sensitive music. But when I asked my friend Yassir to translate some lyrics, she reported back: “Let me tell you, this is an incredibly misogynist song. It goes against my values and my lifestyle…” Turns out that all that sonic gentleness masked a creepy violence. He even has his (unnamed) female partner sing a ridiculous chorus that begins: Whoever trusts a lady is crazy crazy crazy crazy crazy/ Forgive me mother, I know you’re a woman, too. A different song from the same CD, let’s give El Khozeimi another chance:

El Khozeimi, Track 6 by The FADER

 

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[Hassan II mosque, Casablanca. photo by John Francis Peters for The Fader]

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