Definition 2021



See also: rai, Rai, RAI, raí, răi, räi, rải, and ra'i



raï (uncountable)

  1. A form of music, originating in Oran, Algeria from Bedouin shepherds.
    • 1991 March-April, David McMurray and Ted Swedenburg, "Rai Tide Rising" in Middle East Report no. 169, page 39 :
      Rai arrives in the US, in some ways, as the latest rage to hit the World Music record bins, the result of a new post-modern global marketing strategy.
    • 1997: Karen Fog Olwig & Kirsten Hastrup, Siting Culture: The Shifting Anthropological Object — chapter 3: “Which world? On the diffusion of Algerian raï to the West” (by Marc Schade-Poulsen), p59: INTRODUCTION (ISBN 0415150027 (10); ISBN 978-0415150026 (13))
      This chapter deals with raï music from Algeria. Since its emergence in the late 1970s, raï has spread throughout the world and stands today as an exponent of “World Music”. The chapter traces a transnational process that has taken place in the 1980s: the diffusion of raï from the cabarets of Oran (the second largest city of Algeria) to the stereo racks in the West. It evokes the existence of different places and spaces for the consumption of raï.
    • 1999: Marc Schade-Poulsen, Men and Popular Music in Algeria: The Social Significance of Raï, p34 (ISBN 029277740X (10); ISBN 978-0292777408 (13))
      In France, raï’s lack of commercial success was thought to have been caused by hidden French racism and the subsequent de facto absence of raï on commercial radio and prime-time television. All in all, it did seem difficult to “sell an Arab” to a Western audience, as was the case, for example, with Cheb Mami’s U.S.-recorded album “Let me raï”, released during the Gulf War.
    • 2003: Tullia Magrini, Music and Gender: Perspectives from the Mediterranean — chapter 14: “‘And She Sang a New Song’: Gender and Music on the Sacred Landscapes of the Mediterranean” (by Philip V. Bohlman), p333 (ISBN 0226501663 (10); ISBN 978-0226501666 (13))
      The rise of raï has paralleled the rise of Islamism in Algerian society, despite its mixing the male and female roles of musical production and consumption. Indeed, the paradox is at first glance perplexing because one might expect the critical message of raï to be anti-Islamist. The rhetoric of raï, however, does not contradict the rise of Islamism in Algeria, and therefore it acquires the potential to complement religious fundamentalism. Raï and Islam do not so much occupy the same space as draw a cluster of public discussions and debates about gender into the same discourse (Schade-Poulsen 1996, 148–53; compare Bohlman 2000, 293–96).
    • 2005: Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Pashazade, p33: §2
      At least three conflicting varieties of Raï drifted in through the open doorway of the bus, blasting from cafés in the square.

Usage notes

  • Often written in italics (raï), or pronounced as a foreign word.