King of Rai

Khaled Hadj Ibrahim was born 29th February, 1960 and better known by his mononym Khaled. He is an Algerian musician, singer and songwriter born in Oran, Algeria. He began recording in his early teens under the name Cheb Khaled which is Arabic for “Young” Khaled, as opposed to the traditionalist Sheikh elders. He was crowned “King of Raï” in the first Raï festival in Oran and has since become the world’s best-known Arab singer ever. His most famous songs are “Didi”, “El Arbi”, “Aïcha” and “C’est la vie” as well as “Alech Taadi”, which was prominently featured in the 1997 film The Fifth Element.

Khaled Hadj Brahim was born in Oran’s Eckmühl neighborhood, Algeria. On 12 January 1995, Khaled married Samira Diabi, has four daughters and one son.
In 1997, his wife filed a complaint against him for domestic violence, before retracting. In 1998, the documentary Khaled: Derrière le sourire was produced, recounting his life.


Khaled has an illegitimate son with whom he has no contact. Before a court in 2001, he denied being the father of the child, continuing to claim that he had been “deceived”. On 7 May 2001, Khaled was sentenced by the Nanterre criminal court to a two-month suspended prison sentence for “family desertion”. His move to Luxembourg in 2008, where he’s been residing ever since, has reportedly been motivated by these charges.

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He was awarded Moroccan citizenship in August 2013, which he didn’t ask for but accepted because he felt he could not refuse. On 3 April 2015, Khaled was convicted for plagiarism of Didi, from Angui ou Selmi, a musical composition recorded by Cheb Rabah (born Rabah Zerradine) in 1988. But on 13 May 2016, Court of Cassation removed the charges against Khaled, when a 1982 audio tape with the song was shown. This tape was recorded by Khaled and given to a producer located in Oran, 6 years before Cheb Rabah’s record. In the end, Rabah had to compensate Khaled for the fees during this case.

At the age of 14, he founded the Cinq Étoiles (Five Stars) band and started performing in nightclubs and at weddings. In the 1980s, Khaled started producing and singing songs in the Raï genre.
His rise to national fame was mainly due to the efforts of Lieutenant-Colonel Hosni Snoussi, director of the state-supported arts and culture Office Riadh el Feth, who took Khaled under his wing and invited him along with other rai stars to perform at the state-sponsored Festival de la Jeunesse pour la Fête Nationale in Algiers in July 1985. In the same year, he was crowned king of rai in the first official festival of rai which was staged in Oran.
Hosni Snoussi and Martin Meissonnier, who met at the Festival, convinced France’s Minister of Culture Jack Lang that the export of rai from Algeria to France was in the French government’s interest and together they organized the first rai festival in France at Bobigny in 1986. Cheb Khaled, who had been avoiding his mandatory military service, was able to perform at Bobigny only after Colonel Snoussi intervened with the Algerian military authorities to secure him a passport. Shortly thereafter, Snoussi arranged for Cheb Khaled to record in France, with funding from the Office Riadh el Feth. The album, Kutché, released in 1988, a collaboration between Khaled and the Algerian jazz musician Safy Boutella, expanded his reputation in France, where he soon settled.

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In 1992, having dropped the “Cheb” from his performance name, he recorded Khaled, which was produced by Don Was. The album’s first single Didi, which was a major hit in Europe, the Arab World, and in South and East Asia, made him an international superstar.


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