Across the Middle East and North Africa, the beat goes on. Inspired by music from across the globe but true to Arabic music’s deep roots, the sounds of raï’s rolling funk and the shimmering pulse of raqs sharki (“belly dance” music) tell the story of a thriving contemporary scene that stretches across the breadth of the Mediterranean.
This scene shines on Putumayo’s Arabic Beat, a collection that chronicles the musical creativity of Arabic musicians today. The album revels in artists rarely heard in the West: the unsung stars and hit- makers who shape the region’s music. Wild-eyed bohemians and visionary songwriters, belly-dancers and R&B crooners, child stars and Idol-style contest victors, the artists on Arabic Beat each have their own story. But, most have one thing in common: They are household names in certain corners of the Arabic world, but have yet to reach many listeners in the rest of the world.