Friday, May 9, 2008

Malik Adouane - Shaft

Malik Adouane is a French Rai artist and the self-proclaimed father of "after Rai" music who gained international recognition with his cover of Isaac Hayes' classic 'Theme from Shaft'. He is the inheritor of two cultures. From his father's side, he is Algerian Saharoui, and from his mother's side he is Celt. His music is a testament to his dual cultural inheritance, as he delves into Electronic World music, Soul, Groove, House, dance and especially Rai

Adouane's cover of 'Theme from Shaft' is just one among many other covers from his album "Orient Meets Funk Brothers and Soul Sisters". The album contains seventeen classic blaxpoitation songs recordred in an Arabic-pop style. Some of the tracks include James Brown's 'Sex Machine, The Temptations 'Papa was a Rolling Stone', Stevie Wonder's 'Superstition', Barry White's 'Love THeme, and Curtis Mayfield's 'Move On Up'. The majority of the songs were recorded in English. While leaving intact the elements of soul and funk, the album integrates its own flavor in adding many Arabic-styled instrumentations.
Malik Adouane's cover of 'Theme from Shaft' opens just like its predecessor with its extended introduction. The instrumentation changes though, from a funk orchestra to an orchestra of Arabic strings. Adouane does not sing in English, but rather in Arabic. The cover mixes the original funk groove with the Arabic-styled pop whcih he is known for to create a sophisticated sound all its own.
Rai music originated in Algeria in the 1930s, but it wasn't until the 1980s that this once unkown musical genre made its impact on the internaitional music scene. Its popularity has particularly grown in the city of Marseille France. Rai began to circulate on a larger mainstream scale through mass distribuation of cassette tapes, television exposure, and radio time. "The departure of Algerian artists and some important personalities of this world of Rai towards France has became the main means of the exportation of this music "(The Journey of Rai, 380)." The high distribution of Rai has helped it to become a globalized genre. Gilles Suzanne comments that "thanks to these trans-Mediterranean flows, thismusic expands into different regions that its actors construct as a civilization whole, sometimes with the Mediterranean as a point of departure, at toher times in contrast to it- while international and European legislation conceive bordres in truly un-crossable terms (383)." Certainly, Malik Adouane's cover of 'Theme from Shaft' certainly crosses international borders, if not brings them closer together. This integration of culturally different musical genres renders borders insufficient in this song, weaving together a rather unique song that has acquired notoriety apart from its predecessor. At the same time, while gaining its own fame, Malik Adouane's cover of 'Theme from Shaft' has also further popularized the original composition written by Isaac Hayes.

'Theme from Shaft' by Isaac Hayes

The original 'Theme From Shaft' is a soulful, funk-styled theme song to the film 'Shaft'. Written and recorded by Isaac Hayes in 1971, the song went to number on the Billboard 100 in November of 1971. The song's lyrics are a description of the film's main character John Shaft. They describe the fictional character's coolness, courage, and sex appeal. Hayes' lead vocals are backed by a trio of female singers. The song begins with its familiar high-hat beat accompanied by the wah-wah sounds of the electric guitar. Then it begins to build up as more instrumentation is added. An orchestra of strings and brass begins to play in the intro, which lasts nearly two minutes. "Orchestration became a standard ingerdient in soul music as a direct result of 'Theme from Shaft', as did extended arrangements and the smoldering red-light-in-the-bathroom sexuality (Thomas Ryan, 1996)." The year following its release, 'Theme from Shaft' won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, making Hayes the first black artist to win that honor. The song's popularity has led to its many parodies and uses in numerous television ads, television shows, other movies, and even led to its cover by internation Rai musician Malik Adouane.