Cheb i Sabbah (formerly known as DJ Cheb I Sabbah) grew up as Haim Sérge El Baaz, a Jew of Berber (Amazigh) descent in Constantine, Algeria. He moved to Paris in the 1960s, and, more or less by accident, became a DJ. His complex cultural background may have prompted him to mix musical styles. By the late 1980s, he was pushing boundaries on the dance floor, seeking ways to work African, Asian, and Arabic music into the mix. Then, as the world music movement unfolded, Cheb i Sabbah began recording traditional and classical musicians himself and used those tracks to create new works — effectively, music composed by a DJ.
Having completed four recordings, Sabbah recently returned to his native North Africa to gather the raw material for his most ambitious project to date, La Kahena, a set of eight pieces created from music by eight different acts, all featuring women singers.
He was nominated in 2006 by the BBC for the Awards for World Music in the "Club Global" category.
Cheb i Sabbah died on 6 November 2013 in San Francisco after battling stomach cancer for more than two years. He was 66 years old.
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