Watch: How Cheb Khaled Got His Name

01 June 2020
Cheb Khaled, Rai, Wahrun Wahrun, Algeria, GQ Men Of The Year 2019, YouTube
Our 2019 Legend award winner on his career, his hits and his famous laugh

Cheb Khaled is a living legend. The Algerian singer and Rai pioneer has enjoyed a career that’s spanned decades and crossed continents, and he’s done it all with a that infectious smile beaming from his face.

His personality and life force on set is infectious, and in front of a camera, his presence lights up our Men of the Year Awards shoot.

Taking place back in 2019, when we presented Khaled with our inaugural Legend award, his cover shoot was a study in personality. We threw clothes at him that, on the backs of lesser men, would have been overwhelming. But Cheb Khaled’s personality is big. There was no coat too bright, no fit too big. All these beautiful garms did was amplify his megawatt personality.

If you’re of a certain age and lived in the Middle East you’ll remember Khaled’s peerless early 1990s smash hit “Didi”. You’ll remember a time when you couldn’t turn the radio on without the absurdly catchy tune blaring back out at you. Around the world, DJ’s would drop it at club nights, an Algerian curve ball aimed at ecstatic, if uncomprehending, ravers.

While “Didi” signalled the global explosion of Raï music, it made Cheb Khaled an overnight sensation... at least on the face of it. The fact of the matter was that Khaled had been a sensation in his own right for almost two decades.”

Away from the shoot, Khaled sat down to reflect on his life and career. In this exclusive video, Khaled reminisces on the genesis of his name, his reservations around singing in French and even gives us a song especially for his mother.

Legend is a moniker thrown around too much these days. But not his time. This time it’s spot on.

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