There is a subtle jazzy sound to this CD when compared to some of Khaled's other releases, as well as a mix of styles, but this master of the rai genre excels at them all. Some superb musicians are included, and I especially like "Detni Essekra", which reminds me of a tango, with its emphasis on piano (Boyan Zulfikapasic), stringbass (Bernard Paganotti) and accordion (Philippe Eidel).
"Ki Kounti" is another gem; recorded in Los Angeles, it is a duet with Saul Hernandez, composer and lead singer for Mexico's well known rock band Jaguares, and is sung partially in Spanish.
Three tracks were recorded in Jamaica, and have a marvelous bouncy reggae feel to them: "Lillah" has a terrific brass accompaniment, "Ouelli El Darek" nifty background vocals by the "I Threes", and "Mektoubi" is an all-out big band number.
My two favorites would be "Wahrane Wahrane", which like a traditional Arabic pop song has a string arrangement similar to what one would have heard backing the classic Egyptian singers of a generation ago, and the final track, "Hey Ouedi", with its mystical quality, is quite thrilling, with instruments seeming to imitate the sound of ululation.
"Oran Marseille" with rap group IAM, only works half-way for me (I like the Khaled parts and the instrumentation), but perhaps that is because I do not care for rap music. "Aisha" is a signature song for Khaled, and always great to hear.
Khaled is a pioneer of rai music, and his title of "King of Rai" is well deserved; with his gritty expressive voice, he has brought this music to every corner of the earth. Also recommended is his CD "Kutche", and the live performance album with Faudel and Rachid Taha, "1, 2, 3 Soleils".
Khaled co-wrote all the songs except "Hey Ouedi", which he wrote alone, the sound is excellent, the insert foldout has recording info but no liner notes or lyrics, and total time is 51'51.