“Traditional Arabic instruments like the bendir and mandolute form the backbone of his music compositions, but it is his soulful voice (singing mostly in Arabic), along with liberal sprinklings of electronica, rock, funk and punk that makes Taha’s sound, as one critic describes it, “Arabesque rock-funk fusion with a message to the world.”

Rachid Taha @ California Plaza, Saturday, July 12th @ 8pm. Go to www.grandperformances.org for schedule, venue and parking information. Admission is FREE.

“Who are you?” “Who am I?” It sounds like there’s an existential storm broiling deep inside the soul of France’s number 1 musical upsetter. ‘Tékitoi?’, the title of the latest in a long line of probing, provocative and highly original Rachid Taha releases, is a punchy piece of French street lingo whose tone actually says something more like “Who the hell are you?”. If Taha is feeling the need to ask himself and others the most basic questions, then at least he’s doing it with all the verve and vivacity of a straight-jabbing southpaw boxer.

But that’s the man all over. Some strange mutation in the Taha gene over forty-six years ago created a phenomenon as rare as as an albino tiger; a musician of Arabic origin with the courage, intelligence and insight to speak the truth as he sees it, loud and direct, without the softening comforts of metaphor, parable or nostalgia. Or perhaps this uniqueness can be put down to the simple fact that music hit Taha, and vice versa, in the first few years of the 1980s, a period when rock’n’roll still meant rebellion rather than dollars, and when young North African immigrants and sons of immigrants living in France were beginning to shake off decades of timidity with their very own equivalent of America’s Black Pride movement.”

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