????? ???? / Cheb Khaled or just Khaled (born Febr. 29, 1960) is an Algerian rai singer from Oran. He is also known as the "King Of Raï" and is the internationally best known rai singer.
Singers of Raï (English pronunciation: /?ra?/; Arabic: ????) are called cheb (young) as opposed to sheikh (old) the name given to Chaabi music singers; the tradition arose in cities like Oran, primarily among the poor. The word Raï means literally opinion . Chaba Fadela and Cheb Khaled began their careers mid seventies, growing Raï's popularity across Algeria. Chaba Fadela's 1979 "Ana ma h'lali ennoum" is considered the beginning of modern pop Raï; the song was a hit across Algeria, and set the stage for Raï's domination of national listeners. International success had begun as early as 1976 with the success of Rachid Baba Ahmed, Raï music's most important producer.
In the 1980s, Raï began its period of greatest popularity. In 1986, the first state-sanctioned Raï festival was held in Algeria, and a festival was also held in Bobigny, France. Cheb Khaled was the first international superstar. His 1988 Kutché album did the most to popularize him and the whole genre of Raï. Other prominent performers of the 80s included Houari Benchenet, Chaba Zahouania, Raïna Raï, Cheb Sahraoui, Cheb Mami, Cheb Zahouani and Cheb Hamid. International success grew in the 1990s, when Cheb Khaled's 1992 single Didi was a major French hit and also saw success in India and elsewhere. With Khaled no longer in Algeria, new stars began singing lover's Raï, a sentimental, pop-ballad form best-known for stars like Cheb Tahar, Cheb Nasro and, especially, Cheb Hasni. Later in the decade, funk, hip hop and other influences were added to Raï, especially by performers like the French Raï-rock fusionist Rachid Taha.