The former bass player for Cheb Mami, Cheb Youcef (born: Youcef Boukella) has continued to build momentum as a soloist. Released in 1998, his debut solo album, Sheik Sidi Flat, was a major hit in France, where he has resided since the mid-'80s. As a producer, Youcef oversaw the recording of the multi-artist compilation, Night and Day, voted Best World Music Recording by the French newspaper Liberation. Born in the working-class suburb of Selcourt, Youcef was deeply influenced by an older brother who exposed him to classic rock and bossa nova recordings. Egyptian film soundtracks, Kabyl folk music, reggae, funk, and Algerian rai were equally inspiring. Youcef began his musical career as the bass player for Warzon and T34, two of the first Arabic rock bands. Together with American jazz musician Jeff Gardner, he moved to Paris in the late '80s. Befriended by popular rai vocalist Cheb Mami, Youcef began to accompany the influential rai singer at local parties. Youcef has been involved with several bands during his career. He formed Sidi Bemol in 1990 and helped to form Connection Wog eight years later. As a member of Orchestra National de Barbes, he helped to record the hit album ONB, which went on to sell more than 100,000 copies. Youcef currently plays with his own band featuring ex-Cheb Mami drummer/vocalist Karim Ziad, ex-Raina Ray vocalist Larbi Dida, and percussionist Miguel Anga.
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