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London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Band EDM World


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This band has not uploaded any videos




Halalium represents the new wave of Arab electronica, from Morocco by way of New York and London. U-Cef keeps it all well rooted, however, with the Maghreb running deep throughout his music and acoustic instruments playing an important part in the sound; the closer, "Gnasaid," for example, is largely acoustic, revolving around the sintir with its flat desert tones. But listen elsewhere and there's plenty of house and hip-hop in the mix (check out "Aalash Kwawna" with its English rap and curious violin playing by an old Arab) and a flamenco influence that pervades "The Moorish Matador." A lot of the disc, however, returns to the Moroccan Gnawa sensibility, as on "Hijra," possibly the most complete piece on the album, which brings together all the elements -- the English and Arabic rapping and desert guitar from Justin Adams -- in perfect harmony with U-Cef's beats. He takes music into a territory that's new, with the vista completely open and available, and charts a first, exciting course through it. Where U-Cef will take it from here remains to be seen, but the potential is as limitless as the Sahara. ~ Chris Nickson, All Music Guide - All music guide

"HALALWOOD UK press quotes 2008"

UK PRESS QUOTES VARIOUS November 28, 2008.

HMV Choice (Nov/Dec)
_(an) exciting and diverse collection _ Halalwood_ is a record that takes no prisoners and U-Cef_s determination to avoid playing safe is more than admirable._ Phil Meadley

Guardian (28.11.08)
_the edgy, gently intriguing Stick, which features Damon Albarn on guitar, bass, vocals and the inevitable melodica._ Robin Denselow

Independent _ The Information (22.11.08) _ 5 stars
_The music is a thick electric soup of north African, Arabic, hardline hip-hop and ambient all mixed together into a furious, eclectic musical meze._ Tim Cumming

Observer (23.11.08)
U-Cef brings to the world fusion party an in-depth knowledge of Middle-Eastern music, a bunch of celebrity mates and a rich imagination _ It_s an entertaining mix, catering for head and feet, tea-room and dancefloor._ Neil Spencer

Daily Telegraph (22.11.08)
_There_s an amazing range of North African flavours buzzing through this rousing electro-beat fantasia from London_s self-styled _Halal Digitaliser_._ Mark Hudson

Metro (24.11.08) _ 4 stars
_Halalwood rings with proclamations of peace, smart reworkings and mighty grooves. It sounds like the revolution starts on the dance floor._ Arwa Haider

Q (December)
_Electronic beats, rap and rock aesthetics meet the sounds of a North African souk on this highly-charged second album from U-Cef _ Rather than just another bland exotic fusion, this one_s got a real edge to it._ Peter Kane - VARIOUS

"HALALWOOD UK press reactions"


Many would say that a little world fusion goes a long way. But not in the case of nomadic Moroccan musician U- Cef. Back in 2000, he created what now sounds like one of the defining pieces of world fusion with his digital/electronica celebration of Moroccan music, Halalium, shimmering kaleidoscopically with its myriad influences and samples: it drew on Andalusian music, drum’n’bass, Charles Mingus, Gnawa riffing, ragga and the haunting B’net Houriyat chorus. Unsurprisingly, it profoundly influenced the rising generation of Moroccan musicians.
With this second album, his debut on Brussels’ visionary Crammed Discs label, he has produced a different kind of masterpiece – a more tranced-out, dance floor friendly set, with less high-concept electronica than its predecessor. Over the last seven years, U-Cef has spent much more time in Morocco, DJing and playing music, and every pore of every track is aglow with those influences. Check the torrents of qanun and nay, the Gnawa inflections in the polyrhythms of ‘Mo’Rock’n’Roll’ or the traditional rhythms of ‘Hilal’; or the overall trance-like use of repetitive vocal patterns which Moroccanise even the ingeniously used batucada rhythm of ‘MarhaBahia’; or the ragga of ‘Hamdou’llah’. And finally, consider the risky double whammy that he pulls off so brilliantly: creating not just a new version of world fusion but adding a sprinkling of collaborations with guest star luminaries like Damon Albarn, Rachid Taha and Justin Adams, without diluting the force of the album. In fact, all of his guests rise to the challenge and exceed expectations. A dazzling tour de force.
Max Reinhardt

Halalwood - U-Cef Album Review

Photo: Kay Wahlig link
Album Review
Damn U-Sef!! You have made a rather engaging album here - North African beats with trad and modern raps and vocals. The first track is utterly stunning - throbbing bassline and speaker-popping breaks. Moroccan Hip-Hop anyone? This is exactly what fusion should be about - a talent worth selling your house for, a line-up of guests stuffed with imagination and a sound boom enough to sink a jug of beer to. The whole album rumbles like an avalanche and delivers sharper than a postman with a samurai. Track 5, "Hamdou'llah", is the sound of packed clubs in the niche districts in Brussels, Paris and Morocco - a total banger. Blimey, track 6 just goes beyond what whistles should be used for - "MarhaBahia" blends Brazilian and African flavours as though Remmy Ongala met Bahia Black in a side-street in Shoreditch.
It's a street market of styles and it works. Try and pick this lovely album up - if you know how great Crammed can be then you know you should get this and play it when the weather is poor but the beer is good.
Paul Pledger

U-Cef: Halalwood
(Crammed Discs)

Robin Denselow
The Guardian, Friday 28 November 2008
Article history
Crammed Discs

U-Cef is a London-based Moroccan DJ, producer, percussionist and fusion exponent who matches beats against north African styles, rock guitars and hip-hop. His cast list here ranges from Damon Albarn to Natacha Atlas, Justin Adams, UK Apache, Tunisian singer Amina Annabi and Steve Hillage, the former Gong guitarist who helped transform Rachid Taha's career. However, the album doesn't quite add up to the sum of its parts - perhaps because there's not enough development within each track. There are some good ideas here, such as contrasting gnawa percussion (brought to north Africa by black slaves from across the Sahara) with the capoeira fight dance styles developed by their counterparts in Brazil. But the end results are often repetitive - pleasantly drifting or chanting pieces that would make good soundtrack material, but lack the invention of those other new fusion enthusiasts, Dub Colossus. There's one exception: the edgy, gently intriguing Stick, which features Albarn on guitar, bass, vocals and the inevitable melodica.

U-Cef: Halalwood

Neil Spencer
The Observer, Sunday 23 November 2008
Article history

A Moroccan DJ resident in Ladbroke Grove, U-Cef brings to the world fusion party an in-depth knowledge of Middle Eastern music, a bunch of celebrity mates and a rich imagination. Halalwood bristles with influences - trance, hip hop, reggae, rock - though it's the tracks rooted in sinuous mid-East tradition that stand out. 'Ouddamak', with Natacha Atlas, 'Kalzoom' and 'Ya Rayah' all remodel North African classics. By contrast, 'Boolandrix', evoking what might have happened on Jimi Hendrix's 1969 trip to Morocco, and the dub-step of Damon Albarn's 'Stick' get lost in translation. It's an entertaining mix none the less, catering for head and feet, tea-room and dancefloor.

Metro rating
Your views
U-Cef sets out to start a dance revolution
Crammed Discs
by ARWA HAIDER - Monday, November 24, 2008

When Moroccan-born, glob - Various

"HALALWOOD world press reaction"

Musique(101) - Royaume Uni(3) - U Cef(1)

17/12/2008 16:30:21 - Jeune Afrique- Par : Jean Berry -
Sorcier halal

Batteur et DJ marocain, coqueluche du Londres branché, U-Cef sort enfin Halalwood. Un second album, à la fois électronique et oriental.

Pendant l’été, on le croise au Maroc, son pays d’origine, dans les grands festivals : il est aussi à l’aise avec les Gnaouas à Essaouira ou les musiciens amazighs à Agadir qu’avec les adeptes du rap ou du rock de la nouvelle génération. Le reste de l’année, et depuis quatorze ans, U-Cef vit à Londres avec sa femme et ses deux enfants. C’est là que ce batteur et percussionniste originaire de Rabat, qui tâtait du jazz-rock psychédélique avec le groupe Quark, au Maroc, à la fin des années 1980, puis explorait un courant plus funk qui connut un bref succès avec Pan, une dizaine d’années plus tard en Angleterre, s’est fait une réputation de DJ et de producteur. En mixant dans des clubs comme le Zebra, le Spitz et le Mass, ou encore au restaurant maghrébin très people Chez Momo, découvreur de talents sis entre Oxford Circus et Picadilly.

Mondialisation salutaire

Aujourd’hui, le Tout-Londres se presse sur son album (Natacha Atlas, Damon Albarn, Steve Hillage, Justin Adams), qui comporte également un clin d’œil à Rachid Taha en forme de remix du célèbre « Ya Rayah ». Halalwood a été enregistré entre le Maroc, Paris et son studio de West London. Un disque à l’image d’un manifeste métissé pour un vagabond de la musique, âgé de 44 ans, qui se plaît à chercher l’alchimie entre son traditionnel et composition numérique, entre les rythmes gnaouas, berbères et orientaux qui ont bercé son enfance et la samba ou la guitare électrique. Sur « Boolandrix », recyclant le vieux mythe de Jimi Hendrix à Essaouira, U-Cef imagine ce qu’aurait pu enregistrer le guitariste avec une troupe gnaouie. Et il souligne, sur « MahraBahia », la filiation évidente entre cette musique héritée des esclaves d’Afrique de l’Ouest déportés au Maghreb et celle de leurs frères partis vers l’Amérique du Sud. Il convie encore les rappeurs marocains Dar Gnawa ou la chanteuse de R’nB Oum. Et l’on pourrait sans doute qualifier sa musique de world beat, tant elle résonne comme un appel à une mondialisation salutaire des sons et des rythmes.

Après un maxi puis un premier album, Halalium, sorti en 2000, U-Cef a pris son temps pour peaufiner cette seconde production, choisissant des invités pour chacune de ses compositions. La sortie de Halalwood, dont l’arrière de la pochette détonne – les célèbres lettres de la colline de Hollywood y sont détournées –, arrive aujourd’hui comme une forme de reconnaissance pour cet artiste nomade qui a relié Londres et le Maroc.
Link to article:


GiveMeFive n°3 de Décembre 08

U-Cef – Halalwood

Comment garder son identité tout en ajoutant une bonne dose de modernité?Comment? U-Cef le démontre. Cet artiste d'origine marocaine, mélange les sons électros et les sonorités orientales. Ce deuxième album, depuis 7 ans (le premier “Halalium” est paru en 2001), mélange les genres et se fait écho de la maîtrise impressionante de ce bidouilleur génial. U-Cef invite sur ces mix une foule d'invités prestigieux tels que Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorrillaz), Natacha Atlas, Rachid Taha ou encore Justins Adams (guitariste de Robert Plant). La volonté d'ouvrir les musiques marocaines aux autres musiques du globe, comme Marhabaia où le mix est composé de batacudas et de gnawas. Halalwood est un fort brassage culturel, qui perd parfois en cohérance mais qui nous charme par sa puissance et son universalité. Un album qui n'est pas aussi éloigné du "Blue Print" d'Imoteph, qui marriait les sonorités marocaines aux sonorités Hip-Hop. La démarche de U-Cef est aussi la même, nous faire découvrir les orientalités marocaines tout en nous faisant danser. A écouter pour ces titres qui nous font vibrer, les excellents Stick avec Albarn, le Mo'Rock'n'roll ou le remix du tube d'Ya Rayah. A écouter pour se réchauffer cet hiver!

Halal (autorisé) ou haram (péché) ? Le batteur, percus sionniste, program-meur et arrangeur U-Cef continue de filer la métaphore. Après son premier album Halalium, voici un Ha lalwood qui ne doit rien ni à Hollywood ni à Bollywood. Il est en revanche largement ancré dans les musiques de transes de Gnaouas du Maroc, le pays où U-Cef est né et a grandi avant de s'échapper vers New York puis Londres, où il vit actuellement. Ce nouvel opus a été enregistré entre son home studio anglais et Paris, Marrakech, Casablanca, et même le Haut Atlas. Parmi les invités, l'incontour nable Damon Albarn, Natacha Atlas, Justin Adams, Steve Hillage... Dub, rock, électro, hip-hop, r'n'b et même musiques brésiliennes se mêlent à des échos de chaâbi, de chanson moyen-orientale et de m - VARIOUS


Hassan Hakmoun / DJ U-Cef
U-cef always knew that at some point he wanted to go back to what he calls "halal" music, the Moroccan sounds he was brought up with, so naturally he named his first album "Halalium". A composer, producer and DJ, U-cef says "I try musically to bring things together so they don't feel alien to each other - traditional music with urban beat London or New York hip-hop. Maybe somebody who is from somewhere dedicated to one thing will say "This is rubbish", but my belief is that nobody is made of one stuff."

U-cef goes on, "I remember when live bands played, the whole youth would be there - whatever they played, it had the beat, and we just danced and had fun" and he reckons his first interest in performing himself came from dancing at parties and getting into beats. After a brief attempt at doing "a proper job", U-cef moved to New York to really try and make it as a musician, and moving to London 10 years ago was similarly all about the music.

Hassan Hakmoun resides in the U.S. The pentatonic scale and driving rhythms of the sintir, a three-stringed long-necked African bass lute, are instantly appealing to many Western ears, and Hakmoun, has succeeded in presenting this music outside of Morocco to widespread critical acclaim. He was the only world musician invited to play Woodstock '94, and has performed on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and on the WOMAD '94 tour. Hakmoun became a regular fixture in New York's rock, jazz, and fusion scenes, and earned his following for spanning multiple genres with his spiritually charged voice and playing.
DJ U-Cef
Hassan Hakmoun

UK press reaction:
DJ reaction:
U-cef – DJ Reactions

Tagazoot 12” (22T002)

• "A blinder!. The A-sides hit the mark, blow it up, and move on, and an excellent hand crafted cover makes this one fucking cool tune." Shane Quentin (CRMK)
• "Yeah, very good concept and well put across, good fresh ideas which I find really interesting, look forward to hearing more." The Wave (Indigo Lounge)
• "Like the combination of drum 'n' bass and Moroccan influences. Will add interest and diversity to the radio show." Mimi (XFM)
• "Quality world music that crosses the bridge into dance with ultimate ease. Creating a big stir on my floors." Stefano Rackit (Molotov Pop)
• "Left speechless by this effortlessly brilliant 12" – knew it though when I picked up sprayed cover – as credible and substantial a track as I've charted this year……P.S this went down monstrously in Paris." Disastronaut (Various, Brighton)
• "Masterful and evidently well talented – U-cef delivers 3 highly pungent and well happening chooons….full support all the way on this one." DJ Egg (Megadog)
• "It's good to hear all the different influences that are starting to make drum'n'bass worldwide as this breaks down barriers and widens the spectrum." DJ Rolz (Antidote)
• "Excellent release – a worthy follow-up to the Sidestepper 12". More people seem to be enjoying 'worldly' sounds than has been the case for many years, so this should go down well." Earthdoctor (Various, Wales).
• "U-cef seems to have assimilated the modern music styles with his knowledge of traditional music in a way that carves out his own personal niche in a generally overpopulated market."
• Nigel Samuel (A Little Head Music).
• "The whole thing is a great concept. Thanks for this. It will definitely be something I'll be playing at Helsinki. Cool!" Daniel Donnachie (Junction 21 / Helsinki).

DJ Reactions – Hijra 12” (22T003)

• "Rich, interestingly flavoured new take on hip hop". Duncan Smith (Do-it)
• "Interesting bit of vinyl." Jonny Reggae (Various)
• "This is a very striking, original and above all funky hip hop record." Neil McMillan (Hi Karate)
• "Perhaps one of my main records of the season." Disastronaut (Sonic Mook)
• "Simply unique. One of the most outstanding sounds around."
• Crispin White Rabbit (Various)
• "Mad mad beats and low down flow." Damian 'Malarkey' Fielder (Gen X)
• "This will become a firm favourite." Earthdoctor (Various)
• "Very interesting stuff and you know me, if it ain't interesting it ain't worth listening to." DJ Ziggy (Blue Juice)
• "The Hip hop mix is excellent and dropped to an appreciative crowd on Friday."
• Gordon Ritchie (Lowlife)
• "Mad beats – nice." Ali B (Air)


"The dancefloor is the natural habitat for U-Cef’s tender expressions and intricate roots" Time Out
“In the same way that Outcaste did with Indian music, U-cef has managed to show that dance music can be morphed into the most unlikely of places” Muzik
“Talvin Singh and Nitin Sawhney have done fine things for British Asian Music, but can Morocco instrumentalist U-cef work the same trick for Arabic music? It seems he can” Ministry
“There are a lot of good North African / Arabic influenced releases out at the - VARIOUS

"HALALIUM media reaction (in french)"

U-cef – médias français

« Le coup de la fusion entre la musique arabe et la jungle, on nous l’a fait 50 fois, et ça ne marche plus. Eh bien pour une foirs, ça marche ! » Trax

« Apôtre d’un langage universel et intemporel, U-cef transcende les genres et les frontières tel un prophète visionnaire. » Music365

« Avec ce Youssef Adel, la musique marocaine et plus largement d’Afrique du Nord est parti pour faire un sacré bond dans l’évolution. » La Marseillaise

« Sur scène, U-cef mêle électronique et acoustique, sons et danses, senteurs d’encens et messages politiques. A suivre de très près…. » L’Humanité Hebdo

« U-cef nous ouvre les portes d’une médina de rêve où le touriste amateur de clichés n’a pas sa place » L’Affiche

« Le style halal (autorisé) de U-cef est si bon que c’est presque un haram (péché) » Novamag

« U-cef, Marocain de Londres, est un militant de l’apport des cultures maures à l’Europe. Comme démontré lors d’un concert explosif au festival Exit de Créteil le 16 mars, ce percussioniste vagabond réalise avec naturel l’union des musiques électroniques, du hip-hop et de la transe gnawa. » Le Monde

« Ceux qui apprécient les rencontres entre Orient traditionnel et transformateurs electro peuvent se réjouir : le premier album de U-cef relie Londres à Casablanca par Shuttle supersonique ! » Openmag

« Halalium est un voyage entre ombre et lumière. Evasion garantie ! » Coda

« U-cef a réussi une vraie œuvre communautaire qui se fiche de toutes les barrières et idées préconçues. Chapeau ! » Vibrations

« U-cef a un vrai message à faire passer et on peut déclarer selon la formule consacrée : « C’était vraiment très intéressant » » Syndikat

« Sur Halalium, le passé et le futur se rencontrent, les thèmes arabes tradtionnels envahissent les circuits imprimées des samplers, une intrusion on ne peut plus bénéfique pour les dancefloors » Micro & Musique

« Bref, de la techno au gnawa avec des détours par le funk et le dub, son album ‘Halalium’ est le meilleur passeport pour le XXIe siècle que le Xxe siècle est enfanté » Mix


« Arabic » est au goût du mois mais il est temps maintenant de proclamer une fois pour toutes sa position et de gagner un peu de sagesse dans la session. Beaucoup de respect aux innovateurs et aux détonateurs. Rachid Taha, Natacha Atlas, Orchestre National de Barbès, Digital Bled, Intik, Barbarity, Gnawa Diffusion, Smadj et le reste – frères et sœurs – Halal Joint est là pour paver la voie au nouveau son Nord-Africain. U-cef le producteur et digitaliseur marocain réalise la première collection de joints de son studio fumant Halal Joint (Londres-NW2) sur Apartment 22. Cet album est le produit de la créativité Halal, originale et innovante, issue d’un véritable esprit Halal qui n’a rien à voir avec la merde aventureuse-exotico-hédoniste-Club-Med-trance-club-spécial-vacances remix qui obstrue le circuit. Alors écoutez s’il vous plaît…. ! ! ! ! !

Marocain né à Rabat U-cef commence la batterie à l’âge de 10 ans. Après de très nombreuses expériences, il émigre. En 1990 il déménage à New-York où il se bat comme un musicien égaré, vivant de petits boulots le jour et essayant de jouer et d’écouter un maximum de musique le reste du temps. Rapidement il s’infecte des sons urbains et développe un goût prononcé pour le hip-hop et les mélanges de funk et de jazz contemporain aux mixtures métropolitaines polyglotes. Après 4 ans dans la grande ville, batteur pour des groupes de jazz et de rock, U-cef déménage à Londres où il se joint au groupe techno-worldbeat Pan. Après une courte vie remarquée, le groupe se sépare et il crée The BIG Idea un nouveau regard radical sur la musique marocaine. Il s’installe un home-studio et le travail commence.

Le premier album de U-cef s’appelle « Halalium », une aventure Halal pour saluer le nouveau millénaire. Les 12 morceaux du disque recherchent la fabuleuse idée que le Hip-hop, la Jungle, les beats Funky, le Melhoun (poésie marocaine mise en musique), le Gnawa, l’Ahwash (musique berbère du sud du Maroc), le Flamenco et la House peuvent tous partager le même lit et faire des bébés en pleine santé. L’album a mis 2 ans à se faire, dont un été d’enregistrements de Casa à Marrakech en passant par Essaouira et d’autres villes au Marocaines. Toute une tribu de collaborateurs a été impliquée dans la création : les tchatcheurs Black Tip et Johnny Biz (Londres), Dar Gnawa (Casa) et Rahil (Algérie) ont verbalisé et philosophé. Le guitariste Justin Adams (Jah Wobble Invaders of the Heart et Sinead O’Connor) et Elan Polushko (K-ola) ont rajouté de doux coups de langues et autres couleurs. Des chanteurs de la région Ahouache du sud Maroc et Doha à la voie rêveuse a alimenté la fantaisie. Des bassistes funky sont venus lécher les beats. Le tout grâce à U-cef, aka Youssef Adel, producteur, batteur, bassite et « switch-doctor ».

« Halalium » fait partie d’une grande aventure qui ne fait que commenc - VARIOUS



2009 gigs:
La Mar de Musicas (Spain), Masala Festival (Germany), The Kulturbrauerei (Germany), Rio Loco (France), SKETCH (London), SAATCHI (London), AiM Biennale (Riad El Fenn Marrakech), AFRICA EXPREZ @ Hôtel de ville (Paris), THE PEGGY GUGGENHEIM for The Biennale (Venice), MOMO's (London), Passing Clouds (London)

Between 2000 & 2008.

Touring the debut album: Halalium.
Line ups, U-CEF dj set (1 pers), U-CEF & the halal joint sound system, dj/mc/percussion (3 pers), U-CEF live band, 6 piece.

2000 to 2008:

Womex Berlin, Womad festival, The Barbican centre, Summer stage (NYC), Jazz No Jazz (Swiss), Club Raza (Holland), Café de La Dance (Paris), Sfinx festival (Belgium), The Big Chill, Respect festival, Portobello festival, Metro Chicago World music festival, USA. Cargo London, Cactus Belgium, Zodiac Oxford, Palmeraie Marrakech, Potobello festival, Festival Rawafid Casablanca, Essaouira Gnawa festival.Moscow, Casafestival Casablanca, L’Usine France, Melbourne festival Australia, Zanzibar Film festival, MEG festival Montreal, Bidoun Festival Dubai, Damascus French institute festival, Timitar festival Agadir, Global Drums tour Spain, Milkvegh Amsterdam, Afro-Pfingsten festival Swiss, Cabaret Sauvage Paris, Africa Exprez, Moussem festival Belgium, Victoria & Albert museum London, Rise festival London, Tate Britain… and more.

Also, since 2000, many clubs & venues where I had many residencies as a dj and curator…etc, like: Cargo, Momo’s, Gilgamesh , and many others in the May Fair and Knights bridge and underground joints… etc.



HALALWOOD U-CEF's new album.

Morocco's first and foremost digitalizer delivers his debut album for Crammed Discs.

‘Halalwood’ is a tour-de-force which puts gnawa music, dub, sinuous classic Arabic arrangements for qanun, flute & violins, electronic beats, MCs, big drums and crunchy rock guitars into a giant blender to produce something fresh and original. U-Cef has all the legitimacy and inspiration needed to navigate between cultures without any prejudice, disrespect or fear. Born and raised in Rabat, he absorbed much of his native Morocco's multiple traditions before moving first to New York and then to London, immersing himself along the way in the Western world's electronic & rock scenes. His first CD ‘Halalium’ (2001) was a milestone in Moroccan urban dance music, and has inspired a whole generation of rappers, b-boys and pro-tools adventurers, from Tangiers to Taroudant and Melilla to Marrakech.

‘Halalwood’ boasts an exciting cast of high-profile guests including Damon Albarn, Natacha Atlas, Rachid Taha, Mirror System (Steve Hillage & Miquette Giraudy), UK Apache, Amina Annabi, Justin Adams and rap duo Dar Gnawa.


1. Hilal (feat. Mirror System)
2. Boolandrix (feat. Bizmatik & Said Damir)
3. Ouddamak (feat. Natacha Atlas)
4. Stick (feat. Damon Albarn)
5. Hamdou'llah (feat. Oum & Arabingi aka UK Apache)
6. MarhaBahia (feat. Said Damir & Pastel)
7. Rachid Taha's Ya Rayah [Urban Fix] (feat.Rachid Taha)
8. Mo' Rock'n'Roll (feat. Mbarka & Justin Adams)
9. Idman (feat. Dar Gnawa, Sweetman & Staiffy)
10. Kalzoom (feat. Amina Annabi)



A couple of years ago, someone called Paul Singh (Ayash music ltd) asked me to do an arabian remix version for, “Cop that disc” by Missy E, Timberland, and Magoo. So I did. But my remix version never made it to the release!… so as I met up with Steve Hillage and after I’ve explained the situation that the instrumentation on the track is so good that it can be used for a new track, Steve and his lovely wife Mikette Giraudy, that started their new act (Mirror System) were interested in taking on the project as a collaboration. And they did. A couple of weeks later, it was ready and what a transformation. It was so good and I was so happy with it, I put it on Halalwood as track one, as Hilal means 1st day of the month as the moon crescent, indicating 1st moon of the month.

We know for a fact that the greatest Rock guitarist ever JIMI HENDRIX spent time in Morocco in the early seventies, and met with many different musicians throughout the country, from Tangiers to Essaouira, and he surely met with Gnawa musicians (we know that’s the case as many people still remember the time he was over)… and so in many ways this is U-Cef’s vision of a track by GNAWA & HENDRIX that’s never been released, till now.
This track is based on a Gnawa track called Samaoui. U-cef has been working on Gnawa music for many years, in order to put Morocco on the worl



U-CEF – Short Biography

By Andy Morgan.

Clandestinos have to travel light. There’s little space in their kit bags for anything other than hopes, dreams, memories and music. That was pretty much all U-cef, aka Moulay Youssef Adel, had to declare when he arrived in the USA from his native Morocco back in the late 1980s.

Born in Rabat, the Moroccan Capital, U-cef grew up with the riches of Morocco’s traditional music ringing in his ears, from the raw trance of gnawa to the refined sophistication of andalusi and melhoun, from the challenging protest poetry of the Morocco’s new-breed of pop agitators like Nass El Ghiwane and Lem Chaheb to the gutsy roots music of the high Atlas. But very early on, foreign sounds entered the mix, starting with the lush orchestrated scores of Bollywood and Bruce Lee movies and moving through The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zep to disco and funk. Thanks to his music loving uncles, U-cef started learning the guitar before moving on to become a drummer. His group Quark dreamed of achieving the musical sophistication of heroes Return to Forever and Weather Report. But the contemporary Moroccan music scene simply didn’t nurture that kind of ambition, favouring bands who were happy to just play covers in the ballrooms of swanky hotels. Emigration became the only option.

In New York faith kept U-cef suspended just above the starvation line and immigrant courage earned him a foothold in the New York music scene. He ended up gigging regularly with fellow Moroccan exile Hassan Hakmoun, and other reggae and hip hop acts. Meanwhile he immersed himself in hip hop, reggae and R&B, building a solid, profound and first hand knowledge of late 20th century urban music culture. The process continued when U-cef moved to London with his English ex wife in 1994, except this time the input came from drum ‘n’ bass and ragga, styles that were burning up the underground music scene in the British capital at that time.

After brief success with polyglot jazz-funkateers Pan, U-cef decided it was time to plough his own musical patch, and plant the hybrid seed that would evolve into his signature urban Moroccan style. Mutating from being simply a musician to masterminding a project as producer, engineer and all-round studio hound, U-cef invited a huge cast of musician friends to his self-built home studio in West London, where his first album ‘Halalium’ came into being. With its hard urban edge and complex-free marriage of Moroccan roots, hip-hop and drum’n’bass, ‘Halalium’ was definitely ahead of its time. It went on to influence a whole generation of Moroccan hip hop artists, including Fnaîre, the current dons of the scene. But thanks to a number of factors…not least 9/11 and the mutation of his label Apartment 22 from a record label into a management company, U-cef found himself without a record deal and back in his home studio, pursuing his lonesome musical vision like some halal monk.

‘Halalwood’ is the next chapter in this immigrant story. It has been seven years coming and it reflects both U-cef’s evolving love-affair with rock and R&B and his ever widening circle of friends and musical collaborators. But despite the huge list of credits on the album, its making has often been a lonely experience, with solo sessions clamouring for space between odd-jobs, gigs, remixing for others and spending time with his two children Maysoun and Joshua. Still travelling light, still in exile, still struggling, U-cef’s music is the ultimate immigrant adventurer, clandestino warrior, halal pilgrim, living by courage and inspiration alone, busting boundaries and going from strength to strength.