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Amazigh Kateb at the Institut du Monde Arabe

AmazighkatebText: Brendan Seibel

Spitfire reggaeton lyrics and hip-hop beats may seem fiercely modern for the Institut du Monde Arabe, but Amazigh Kateb is a cultural warrior. His fusion of musical styles incorporates the traditional melodies of the Maghreb, African roots and European sensibilities to create a defiantly global sound. His uncompromising passion for his Berber lineage, his love of pan-African community and his anger towards Algerian politics earn him a place amongst more stoic scholars.

Son of a famous author, Kateb fled his homeland at the age of sixteen as political turmoil reached a boiling point. Living in Grenoble he founded Gnawa Diffusion, a group which became popular not only throughout France and Northern Africa, but the Middle East. Staunchly political songs railing against the government of Algeria balanced with uplifting numbers urging self-reliance and determination.


Since the breakup of Gnawa Diffusion Kateb has soldiered on, often appearing with the stripped down backing of turntables, bass and drums. Although continuing to employ his guttural raps he more frequently incorporate the intrinsically Arabic and Berber melodies of the Maghreb. His assured vocals, a jumble of Arabic, French and occasional English, soar stridently over his intricate and rhythmic sintir playing.

It is difficult to know whether Kateb will take the stage with the rough-hewn beats and lush production of French hop-hop or whether his accompaniment will comprise the traditional Gnawa percussion and strings. What is certain is that Kateb will hold court, pouring out his heart through messages of identity, justice and freedom.

Amazigh Kateb
February 20, 2010 at 8:30pm
Tickets 18€/22€
Institute du Monde Arabe
1 rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard
Place Mohammed V
Mº Sully-Morland/Jussieu

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