Hamid Baroudi – ‘The ball’s in your court!’
Hamid Baroudi is a musician of principle, quitting the mega-successful German band the Dissidenten because – somewhat ironically, given their name – the band wouldn’t take a part in anti-Gulf War actions. He became, as he noted, ‘the dissenting Dissident’. Their former lead singer left to follow his own path, one which he has been treading since his childhood in Algeria.
Making his local debut as singer at the age of thirteen, Baroudi grew up in the attractions of Europe beckoned. After a stay in France, Baroudi settled in Germany, and studied art in Kassel. When he joined the Berlin-based Dissidenten, he brought his North African heritage with him. The band was known for their cross-cultural experimentation and received critical acclaim during his six-year period of tenure. Following the parting of the ways, Baroudi embarked on a solo career which has baffled critics who, inevitably, wanted to ensconce him in a suitable pigeonhole. His eclectic brand of Afro-Euro hybrid jumps wildly between roots music, club beats and pop rock, and he delights in frustrating expectations.
Of all the various awards and recognition that he has received, Baroudi claims to be most proud of his inclusion in the blacklist of Islamic activists maintained by the Algerian authorities. His songs are indeed protest songs, but his protest is against oppression; he is an advocate of peaceful coexistence and harmony, not unlike the content of his recorded work. He sees this particular ‘honour’, however, as a sign that he has captured the spirit of the times and points out that his is a modernist and forward-looking Islam.
As befits a modern-day troubadour, his associations range far and wide, as do his influences, and the result is correspondingly multi-coloured. Referring to the lack of a suitable category for his work, he points out the colonial nature of the ‘world music’ paradigm: ‘Record companies …think that world music must be traditional and acoustic, (with) exotic instruments, unplugged’. He notes that his first band the Dissidenten ‘tried to destroy that cliché back in the 80s’. He addresses the critics who struggle to define him: ‘It’s not my problem. It was my problem until I composed (the material), now the ball’s in your court’.
That particular ‘exotic’ world music cliché has been replaced by the next cliché in the queue, of course, and the world music scene is currently flooded by all manner of collaborations between first and third world, new and old, traditional and modern, acoustic and technology – until one feels that there is hardly a pair of opposing attributes left unmatched. His own music has been successfully remixed by DJs (‘Mad CT Mix’, 1996), preserving both the original character and lending the material an urban edge. But the music of Baroudi is based upon more than conceptual formulation. He’s also a fine melodic songwriter and his melodies carry his message to places they may otherwise pass by. His work is dedicated to ‘a world without racism, fanaticism, violence, wars and borders’ – a worthy goal, if one unlikely to be achieved in the foreseeable future. But the discerning music lover can always hum Baroudi’s memorable tunes.
This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.
Summer Open Air Festival
(10 July 08 - 27 July 08)