Banning Eyre at NPR:
He was born Khaled Hadj Brahim in 1960 in the Mediterranean port city of Oran — or “Crazyville,” as he once called it. Oran marks an intersection of cultures, a place where Spanish, Moroccan, French, Arabic, American, Berber, Jewish and gypsy ideas and idioms collided. Khaled came of age during the lull between two bloody conflicts: the 1950s war that freed Algeria from French colonialism; and the religiously fueled civil war of the 1990s. In a land torn apart by intolerance and violence, Khaled stood out as an artist who embraced openness and peace.
Khaled was also a bad boy, a playboy and a partier, even rejecting the polite traditions of Algeria's poetry. When a traditional Oranese poet wants to describe love, Khaled once explained to me, the poet will speak in metaphor — for example, about a pigeon. Khaled says he prefers to take a different approach.
“When I sing rai,” Khaled said, “I talk about things directly: I drink alcohol, I love a woman, I am suffering. I speak to the point.”