Jaylann – the Moroccan artist embracing Afrobeats

Jaylann – the Moroccan artist embracing Afrobeats

In Morocco, more and more artists are checking in with the creative musical outpouring going on further south. One such artist is Jaylann.

She’s actually gone as far as changing her name to make herself more accessible outside the Arabic-speaking world. She already had a successful career as Khaoula Moujahid.

She shone on regional TV talent shows The Voice and Coke Studio. According to one Francophone journalist, she won over the juries and the Moroccan public with her singing voice which is “extremement groovy”!

And her solo songs, Mama, for example, get millions of hits on YouTube.

So I was curious to know the story behind her latest release – a remix with Nigerian Afrobeats singer Idahams of his song Man On Fire. Jaylann tells me:

It was crazy – this song was made with love, actually. My producer, Beathoven, who is also my husband, discovered it and he was sharing it with me and saying: ‘Jaylann you have to listen to this, it’s a beautiful song’. I listened to it and I fell in love.

“I loved the melody, the style of music, the Afro vibes – you know in Morocco we love Afro songs – and I had the idea: Why not contact Idahams and propose a North African remix with the Moroccan language in it? He answered me so fast – he loved the idea, he was so open. So we got to work.”

“I loved the melody, the style of music, the Afro vibes – you know in Morocco we love Afro songs – and I had the idea: Why not contact Idahams and propose a North African remix with the Moroccan language in it? He answered me so fast – he loved the idea, he was so open. So we got to work.”

The result is gorgeous and Jaylann hopes it will introduce Idahams’ work to a wider North African audience.

No doubt it will also win her a few fans south of the Sahara, though the phrase “Sub-Saharan Africa” grates with Jaylann and other Moroccans who share her enthusiasm for the music of the whole continent:

Man, we are brothers. I hate the idea of separating both origins – it’s a stupid idea, we have to do the opposite. We have to collaborate with each other, help each other – it’s more powerful like that. This is Africa, you know.”

It is indeed. So why was it necessary to change her name? Couldn’t her brothers and sisters from other parts of Africa get their tongues around Khaoula Moujahid?

“I had this idea that if I get known outside my country, people are not going to be able to spell my name. They put it like Kala, Howler, Koala! I did not like that! Jaylann actually has an Arabic origin and it has the same meaning as my real name – which is ‘gazelle’. My public love the name and they are calling me now Jaylann, not Khoula Moujahid.”

“Jaylann actually has an Arabic origin and it has the same meaning as my real name – which is ‘gazelle’. My public love the name and they are calling me now Jaylann, not Khoula Moujahid.”

If you ask me, Jaylann is a name to remember.

BBC

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