Lhe city of Oran is the cradle of raï, this festive music, challenge and pleasure that electrified the local melodies at the dawn of the 80s. with a resounding success soon among the young Algerians.
Producer born in 1954, Boualem Benhaoua, who hailed from the appliance industry but was passionate about this popular culture, immediately distinguished himself from his competitors, who were often more interested in quick money than in discovering lasting talent. He cultivates his network, encourages and advises chebs and the chebas, literally the “young” men and women who will become the protagonists of this new musical genre. It was Cheb Khaled who led Benhaoua to rename his Maghreb Musique label to Disco Maghreb.
From the golden age to the dark decade
Located in the heart of Oran, Disco Maghreb stands out as the flagship label of raï, with a giant box suspended like a sign. Boualem Benhaoua obviously collaborates with Cheb Khaled, who was awarded the Oran raï festival in 1985. Help unveil other young artists, called to a brilliant career, such as Cheb Hasni, nicknamed “the nightingale of the raï”, also “Julio l’Oranais”, or Cheb Mami, baptized by his fans the “prince of raï”. . He also accompanies Cheba Zahouania, whose more traditional formation brings a new twist to the raï repertoire. In many respects, the influence of Boualem Benhaoua can only be compared to that of Rachid Baba-Ahmed, singer and composer of raï (in particular for the couple Cheba Fadela and Cheb Sahraoui) before becoming a producer himself, with a shop very close to Disco Maghreb. This is the golden age of raï in Oran, where all dreams are allowed, against a backdrop of provocative lyrics and captivating rhythms.
In January 1992, a military coup toppled President Chadli Bendjedid, who was ready to coexist with the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), winner of the first round of the legislative elections. Not only is the vote suspended sine die, but the repression falls on the FIS, which strengthens the extremism of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), which is contrary to the very principle of elections. It is the beginning of the “black decade” and its litany of abject violence. The extremists have never hidden their deep hostility towards this “immoral” music that raï would be in their eyes. In September 1994 Cheb Hasni was murdered with two bullets to the head in the heart of Oran. Four and a half months later, it was Rachid Baba-Ahmed’s turn to be killed in front of his shop. Boualem Benhaoua keeps a low profile, but keeps his Disco Maghreb afloat, against all odds.
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