LES BOUKAKES (ALGERIA/FRANCE)
France’s multicultural society has taken a battering over recent years: extreme right politician Jean Marie Le Pen made a near-successful bid for President while widespread violent rioting has flared across les banlieus (urban estates) housing many of the nation’s immigrant communities. Yet musically France keeps making strides forward as the nation’s young musicians put prejudice aside so coming together and creating music bubbling with an array of international flavours.
Les Boukakes are the latest French outfit to gain a degree of national success and international interest. Formed in 1999, Les Boukakes consist of seven members from a variety of backgrounds – Tunisians, Corsicans, Italians and French – who came together to create a sound system that developed into a high-energy band. Their name is a response to unkind comments thrown at them: “boukake” being a phonetic mixture of two typical racist insults.
Les Boukakes chose the name as an affront to racists and while their music eschews ostensible political comments in songs their name is a deliberate reaction against bias and ignorance. From playing on the streets and in squats they worked their way up to sharing stages with the likes of Manu Chao and Taraf De Haidouks (amongst many others). In 2001 they released their first album Makach Mouch'kil (No Problem). Fusing rai ‘n’ rock ‘n’ reggae, they married Orient and Occident to great effect. In 2005 they released the new album “Bledi” and toured all over Europe to promote it. Chosen to appear at Womex at Gateshead in 2005 their high energy performance won a strong reception and lead to their version of the Arabic tune Sidi H’Bibi appearing on The Rough Guide To Planet Rock CD.
Like Rachid Taha, Les Boukakes are intent on fusing North African grooves, rock guitars and lyrics sung in French and Arabic. Vocalist Bachir Mokhtar cuts a commanding presence and songs leap from ancient desert blues to edgy electronic anthems. Through their energy and musical directness Les Boukakes aim to represent a new multicultural Europe where many cultures blend rather than clash and everyone comes together to dance and celebrate.
Les Boukakes website
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