Music & Words | Ashraf

North-African Rai, combined with exciting salsa rhythms, intriguing jazz chords and heavy rock guitar licks. The Moroccan Dutchman Ashraf mixes all those elements into a releaxed swinging pop rai music.

When singer Ashraf (nom de plume of Mustafa Loumghari) left his mediterranean Tetouan in 1984 to live in Holland, his favourite music, rai, was still almost unknown. There were only ‘some old records’ available in the Moroccon community, according to Loumghari. The situation has changed dramatically since then. The second generation of Moroccons has shown a strong preference for artists like Cheb Khaled and Cheb Mami, but their music is also entering the charts and finding its way into the record shops.

Rai is one of the most accessible, danceable and catchy music styles of this moment. It is based on northern African rhythms, combined with a solid bass line, sparkling synthesiser and gracious Arabian vocals. Even western ears do not need much time to adapt to this music. The popularity of rai music in Holland is for a greater part the work of Mustafa Loumghari. His first band, Noujoum Amsterdam, opened the ears and hearts of a whole generation of Moroccon enthusiasts, and now rai is an established factor on parties, in venues and on the radio. Ashraf himself moved on. In the thirteen years he spent in Holland, he listened to the great variety of music that can be heard in this country. As a result, the music on his album Le Mediteranien is sort of multi -cultural. Arabian, French and English words, playful percussion, biting guitars, mysterious uds and latinjazzy saxophones, they can all be heard on Le Mediteranien, but they sound like a natural blend. Ashraf is also called the ‘white dove’, and it is not a coincidence that this album is dedicated to the children of the world, to peace and brotherhood.

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