Khaled – C’est la vie [music]
Renowned for his collaborative streak, the King of Rai, Cheb Khaled, once again joins forces with a number of contemporary artists for his seventh studio album, C’est la Vie. Produced by RedOne, the follow-up to 2009’s Liberté includes guest appearances from U.S. rapper Pitbull (“Hiya Hiya”), Mazagan (“Dima Labess”), and Marwan (“Laila”).
The most popular performer in the Arab world looks for a new, younger audience and takes a step backwards. Khaled deserves his crown as king of rai, thanks to his best selling recordings from the 1990s, in which he matched Algerian dance styles against synthesised western pop; and also for his last release, Liberté, recorded with Fela Kuti’s producer Martin Meissonnier, in which his emotional, rasping voice was finely backed by oud, brass and an Egyptian string section.
There is no such subtlety this time. Khaled’s new producer is the Moroccan songwriter RedOne, best known for his work with Lady Gaga, and responsible here for a series of epic, programmed anthems, with massed voices or a dash of hip-hop from Pitbull added in. The best three tracks are those where RedOne steps aside and a small band takes over, allowing Khaled to prove that he’s still in excellent voice.