Sofiane Saidi, the ‘Prince of Rai 2.0’, sulphurous Algerian crooner and inventor of oriental glam, unveils another phase of his multifaceted history with a new electro-Maghreb vision, joining forces with the analog synths, saz, horns and percussion of turbo-clappers Mazalda to create a fizzingly fresh take on classic 80s Rai.

Born in the Algerian Rai heartland of Sidi bel Abbes, Saidi relocated to Paris in the 90s where he began moving through multiple musical worlds, from his 1996 debut with Senegalese hiphoppers, Tukuleur, through collaborations with Acid Arab, Natacha Atlas and Smadj, Breton roots-rockers Startijenn and Rai pioneers, Raina Rai, before releasing his own album, El Morjane, in 2015, a shiny electro-raï concoction directed with Tim Whelan of Transglobal Underground. Now he’s closed the loop with his roots to create ‘Rai 2.0 for the third millennium’.

Sofiane Saidi & The Mazalda

Algerian singer Sofiane Saidi and his cohorts in Mazalda reinvent a new, funky version of 1980’s Raï, with analog synths, saz, North-African percussion and trance-inducing vocals. Algerian Rai came to prominence in the late 80’s and in the span of a couple of years, managed to grow from a lo-fi, cassette-only, genre to the overproduced mega-hits of the early 90’s.

The beautiful collaboration between Algerian Singer Sofiane Saidi and the lyonnais group Mazalda is a daring re-invention that looks back to the early history of Raï but seeks to meld a vintage approach with an adventurous edge. Sofiane’s singing possesses all the lyrical qualities of the best of Oran’s singers, while the arrangements rely both on a sense of groove and an audible joy in unexpected sonic detours.  While Sofiane was born near Oran and soaked in the roots raï culture as a teenager, he spent most of his adult years in France collaborating with more electronic minded outfits – Acid Arab and Natacha Atlas among others. Mazalda started out as an experimental outfit, with projects ranging from a street brass band to quirky sound installations.

Both Mazalda and Sofiane held a fascination for early raï music which led to this collaboration and a true re-invention of a genre that, until then, had seemed to have lost the ability to reinvent itself. Their debut album received a tremendous reception in Europe and in the Arab world and their live shows have taken them all over Europe as well as Turkey, Egypt, Algeria and a host of new places for 2020. We couldn’t imagine a better time for a European-Arabic musical success story. The group will make their North American debut at Tropicalia!


1/10 @ Tropicalia – Washington, DC

1/11 @ DROM – New York, NY

1/12 @ Globalfest Copacabana – New York, NY