Cheb Runner – Tagnawit EP

2020 – Digital EP

Tagnawit EP the first project of Cheb Runner (formerly known as GAN-GAH) and the latest addition to the rich catalog of the belgian label Rebel Up Records. Counting artists such as Nuri, Arabstazy and Susobrino, in their catalogue. the Belgian label has been introduced to me a couple years ago (thanks to Ozferti) and has for more than 10 years maintained a unique vision, pushing projects that bridge electronic and diaspora music, Their refreshing approach offers a great potential for discovery, such as this one. Let’s dive in !

The latest project by belgo-moroccan producer Reda Senhaji, alias Cheb Runner, focuses on breeding a new style of music from Electronics and Gnawa. Taking inspiration from New Beat to Techno, Acid House and Gabber, the grooves are relentless, stiff and club oriented, relying heavily on analog synths and drum-machines.

The sound is darker, more experimental and mature than the artist’s previous project, Gan Gah. But the producer also digs into the acoustic sounds of his youth, for an organic feeling of warmth and celebration. The syncopation of the classic Gnawa percussions – Qraqebs & Tbal – combined with the use of Gembri guitar are the soul of the Tagnawit EP, and the groove is undeniable. Featuring two traditional singers based in Brussels, Mâalem Driss and Mâalem Hichem, the EP is a reunion for the belgian Gnawa scene, keeping the vibe alive.

In a world of dematerialized culture, we tend to forget where we come from: by putting Gnawa music at the center of his production, Cheb Runner creates a bridge with the past. The young producer is a son of Gnawa himself, this is the music he grew up with and played as a kid. Now he brings it to the club scene : Cheb Runner’s first EP is experimental, brutal, innovative.

Getting past definitions and genres, it opens new horizons for North-African producers, showing them how to use their roots to make new beats. It encourages both tradition and modernity in Music. In 2019, Gnawa music, dance and culture were added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list, demonstrating both the relevance of the genre and the necessity to preserve it.

Cheb, the Arabic word for “young boy”, is traditionally used to describe the young generation of Raï singers – like Cheb Hasni, Cheb Mami or Cheb Khaled. It means the new generation is here, to create something new with something old. The reference to the Ridley Scott movie Blade Runner is just that: while the Cheb comes from the bled, a moroccan village in the Agadir region, the beats come from the club scene of an industrial city, like Berlin, Detroit or Molenbeek/Brussels.

Cheb Runner takes you on a trip through space and time, as well as to pass on ancient rhythms to inspire the next generations. 

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