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Moroccan Music & Artists > Moroccan Chabbi Music

Travel To Morocco & Experience Chabbi, Morocco's Most Popular Music
The most popular music of Morocco is chaabi. Similar to pop music in the West, chaabi covers a wide mix of styles and is a descendant of various forms of folk music. This upbeat form of music originates from the streets and souks but can now be heard in cafes, at festivals and at weddings. Chaabi songs typically end with a leseb which is twice the speed of a song and forms the background that combines clapping, shouting and dancing. During Ramadan in the early evening music cafes in Morocco are in full sway with chaabi as locals celebrate after laftour, the meal that marks breaking the daily fast.
 A sophisticated form of chaabi evolved in the 1970s competing with popular Egyptian and Lebanese music. These chaabi groups were usually made up of two stringed instruments which consisted of a lute and a hadjuj (bass gimbri)- and a bendir and a darbuka or tam-tam for percussion. Eventually, new instruments like buzuks and electric guitars were added. The three most important early groups in this movement were Lemchaheb, Nass El Ghiwane and Jil Jilala. All three bands featured politicized lyrics that got the songwriters in trouble with the government. Other groups like Tagada and Les Freres Bouchenak also played an important role.
Chabbi is a fusion of Arab, African, and modern Western influences combining Berber music with elements taken from the Arab milhun and Sufi rituals, Gnaoua rhythms, and Western music – pop, rock, reggae and more recently rap. Lyrics in chabbi deal with love and social issues which have often include messages that have gotten their authors in trouble with authorities – even jailed.
The impact of chabbi on Moroccan music and culture has been significant as after decades of subservience to Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria, Morocco discovered that it had its own indigenous musical culture which as vibrant and as exciting as that of the Middle East.
The rise of chabbi was a major revolution and its influence is still very much a part of Moroccan music today. While it predated the World Music explosion of the 80’s and Algerian Raï, its sound helped to put Raïon the map and its musicians were a huge influence on the great Raï chebs like Khaled, Mami, Fadel and Sahraoui.
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