In the mid-80s there was an influx of youthful migration in and out of Morocco, coinciding with the emergence of a new music genre in Europe, hip-hop. The genre was brought back into the country and spread like wildfire.
Historically, along with Egypt and West Africa, Morocco is one of the three points of a cultural triangle where various ethnic groups have traded in the region throughout the past millennium. Goods and ideas have always flowed through this triangle and the exchanges have always included music.
When you google the top 10 rap countries with the best hip-hop, unsurprisingly America tops the chart. Number two, however, came as a bit of a shock – Morocco. Mid-Googling ‘Morocco’, the first suggestion that came up was ‘Moroccan rap’.
As a by-product of globalisation and spread of the internet, there is a huge market for the hip-hop culture in the African country although there is a large proportion of the country who reject the art form for being of western origin.
However, young people continue to drive the culture, keeping the music original, independent and diverse. For example, following a number of protests that swept through Morocco a few years ago, women now have a very prolific presence in the scene.
Taoufik Hazeb a.k.a. Don Bigg is considered one of Moroccan raps pioneers with his outspoken style rapping on themes very close to the concerns of a wide fringe of the Moroccan urban youth. In 2006 he produced and released his debut solo album ‘Moroccans Til We Die‘. Its success was phenomenal, downloaded by hundreds of thousands on the internet. A star was born.
His career has gone from strength to strength since, priding himself on the Moroccan culture he had a helping hand in forging.
The first female MC in Morocco, she’s also an avid supporter of women’s rights and an activist that uses her voice to tackle social issues in the country. Her international hit The Voice of Women is an effort to combat sexual harassment in Morocco. Her self-assured attitude, fearless lyrics and impeccable flow all build towards the artist that is Soultana.
Karim Kharbouch was born and raised in Morocco and moved to South Bronx, New York with his family when he was 13, speaking only his native tongue of Moroccan Darija. After struggling for two years, his father left, leaving Karim, his two siblings and mother living off welfare. Now, under the stage name of French Montana, Karim is the multi-millionaire founder of Coke Boys Records and his most successful single Unforgettable peaked at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100.