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Moroccans Until Death!

Rap isn’t my favorite genre of music, but yesterday I discovered the Moroccan rapper Bigg, also known as “Al Khasser” (“Rude Boy”) for his blunt lyrical style. His first album “Mgharba ‘Tal Moute” (“Moroccans Until Death”) was released last year, and won an award as the best Moroccan rap album of 2006. He sings in pure derija (Moroccan dialect or slang) in order to reach a popular audience, tell things as they are, and preserve a valuable cultural heritage. Even for those like me who don’t understand what he’s saying, I think Bigg’s artistry shines through, and his motivation couldn’t be clearer as this interview shows.

    Who do you sing for?
    My public is made up primarily of young people aged 12 to 25. I also sing for those who won’t accept that we continue to subject their ears to love songs and songs of good times…. I use the language of young people so I can speak truly. In that way, I express the roots of my thought and theirs. On stage I shout out loud what Moroccans think secretly.
    What do you say to those young people through your songs?
    Above all, I tell them not to be afraid of anything or anyone: “Baraka men al khouf!” ["Enough fear!"] I ask them to be citizens who fulfill their obligations and who dare to demand their rights. Real Moroccans who want to change their country, not those who want to leave at the first possible moment. In singing, I ask young people to interest themselves in what’s happening around them, to tell the political Pinocchios to fuck off, not to obscure our past in order to better construct our future…and I shout out their rejection of anyone who uses his beard for demagogic purposes and who takes us for idiots.
    But because of your words which are considered too daring, some of your young fans are forced to hide themselves in order to receive your messages.
    What I find reassuring is that those who are hiding themselves today to listen to my songs, won’t force their children to hide themselves tomorrow to hear the same thing. I insist on the fact that I’m 100% for total respect within the family. But that musn’t prevent us from calling things by their real names in our derija which permits us to go straight to the point.

To explain the message of Bigg’s song “Al Khouf” which won him an award for best rap single of 2006, here is an appreciation by fan writer “tupacgirl.”

    Moroccans, no matter what their sex, age or social status, have all (or almost all) received an education based on fear, “Al Khouf.” Beginning with everyday examples like the fear that a child can feel for his father, or a student for his teacher—and ending with the blow to the face that demonstrates in a real way the servility of the Moroccan citizen, and his huge fear of anyone who holds a certain power, his fear of the policeman, the public official, the rich man—even though quite often he’s in the right.
    The worst is that we’re constantly complaining because our rights are trampled, our liberty restricted and our lives surveilled, but what do we do to change this? Quite the opposite of what should be done, instead of insisting on our rights we help those who trample them. Things never change on their own, and if we wait for those in power to give us our rights without making them our own, we’re sticking a thumb in our own eye.
    In “Al Khouf” Bigg wants to give an example to show that we can indeed love our country, without in any way allowing this pointless fear to live in our stomachs. Why fear the policeman when he’s supposed to be there for our security, why fear the municipal bureaucrat when his job is to serve us—Bigg cites many other representative examples. He also calls on young people to wake up and change their conduct a little, by putting respect in the place of fear, because it isn’t a question of breaking the law or becoming rebels, but simply of knowing our rights, understanding how to insist on them, and avoiding boot-licking which won’t get us anywhere!

Another popular song from the album is “Bladi Blad.” Below is a video version that illustrates the Moroccan reality that Bigg is trying to bring into the open with his music, in the hope that it will change.

Finally, here are the songs “Bladi Blad” and “Al Khouf” as they appear on the album. I found the lyrics to both songs on a fan site in the original derija, so if anyone gifted in both derija and English thinks it would be worthwhile to help me translate these songs, e-mail me here and I’ll send you what I have. Then I’ll post the results here. Thanks in advance!

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“Bladi Blad”

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“Al Khouf”

UPDATE: In a comment on this post, Reda recommends the song “Goulou Baz” in which Bigg appears on Hoba Hoba Spirit’s latest album, Trabando. In his honor for suggesting it, here it is!

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“Goulou Baz”

Comments

Comment from Jill
Time: April 16, 2007, 05:19

Oh, awesome post! Last June, I got to meet Bigg (a friend of mine asked me to be in his/Ahmed Soultan’s video for “Bladi” (it’s on Youtube as well) and he is a seriously cool guy (and he speaks excellent English).

There was a great interview with him in TelQuel awhile back – I don’t have a scanner, but I’ll try to type some of it up for you.

Comment from Reda
Time: April 19, 2007, 22:49

u have to listen to a track made by Bigg and Hoba spirit : Goulou baz.
It’s not really my cup of tea but i like :))
i can send it to u if u dont have it. (u have my mail)

Comment from eatbees
Time: April 20, 2007, 00:21

@Jill — Thanks, but you mean it’s not available online? I did a quick google search and found a bunch of TelQuel material on Bigg. As far as interviews go, is this what you’re talking about? If not, send me the link if you can find it.

@Reda — Thanks, friend. It turns out it’s part of the latest Hoba album, so I have it. I’ll post it here in an update in honor of you!

Comment from sanaa
Time: April 22, 2007, 17:27

Bigg is actually great – at a genre that I don’t like much. I love the My Way (Comme d’habitude) sampling. It would be fun to make an album of My Way covers, from Claude François, to Sinatra, to Nina Simone, to the Sex Pistols, to Bigg (and many, many others).

Comment from zineb
Time: July 23, 2007, 10:47

bigg tu sais tu es tttttttttt ma vie je taime et vive bigg m9awad lol (l)

Comment from aziz
Time: July 23, 2007, 15:04

salut ca va

Comment from Sidi ROM
Time: October 27, 2007, 11:50

Bravo! I’m looking for serious responses in English to this fine album, and yours is one of the best.

Comment from mohammed
Time: November 15, 2007, 16:21

ya un rappeur ki a clashé bigg h kayen fnaire et fes city clan, il s appelle 2gunz il fé parti du groupe du rap oujdi L.O.C
moi enfé j aime bien le titre fake mcz parcek il parle sur les mots vulgaire de bigg et le style de fnaire et tt, vous pouvez l entendre sur sa page de myspace http://www.myspace.com/oujda
et le profile du groupe c http://www.myspace.com/elowcee

Comment from a.f.99
Time: December 27, 2007, 09:54

bigg
malk mab9itich katrini
jib l3z ola kez 3chiri

Comment from oussama
Time: January 2, 2008, 14:34

they are khaser in sumarises

Comment from khadija
Time: February 14, 2008, 06:16

sema3 neta 7amade bigg tfo

Comment from kamal
Time: March 13, 2008, 08:48

ca va bigg

Comment from SIMO
Time: May 3, 2008, 11:41

salam kif dair a ssat zaz? mohim ana mo9im bi españa walaki baghi nkun rapero.. mohim rak wa3r
lalbom dialk wasl tal spaña dakchi 3andk wa3r ana
3andi 16sana kanmuto 3la bigg mgharba tal maut m3abigg tbarklah 3lik rajl kml tansnau lalbum
pliz bigg raslni zaher@erik.com sata mzinal3aud tbarklah 3la bigg

Comment from Kaitlin
Time: October 10, 2008, 21:14

Thanks for the interview. I’ll be featuring it in a post later for Inside Islam. How did you find those songs? I’d like to post them for the project, especially Bladi Blad.

Comment from eatbees
Time: October 10, 2008, 23:35

Kaitlin, I don’t remember any more where exactly I found the songs, except that various fan sites had his music available for free download. I just did a google search (bigg bladi blad telecharger) and found links to the songs here. Or just do what I did and look around.

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