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Cante - Tekameli featuring R.Can

Eight years ago I saw Tekameli in an impromptu performance on the beach at Collioure, between Perpignan and the Spanish border. I was enchanted by their mix of Gypsy Kings style pop and the amazing soaring harmonies of their gypsy "gospel" songs, with more than hint of their Spanish Moorish heritage, so six years ago I put them on in England for one concert and they were terrific. I learnt that although there were only five of them in the band, between them they spoke five languages: Calo (the Spanish gypsy language), French, Catalan, Spanish and English.And all of them spoke at least two of them But here's the thing: there wasn't one language that they could all speak in.

The main guys in Tekameli were gypsies and proud of it; one of them claimed he could trace his ancestry all the way across Europe right back to India in the first century AD. Today they are immensely popular in the Perpignan area, as is R.Can, the only notable French rapper to have come out of the region.

Growing up in the Paris suburban badlands of Seine et Marne, in 1994 R.Can discovered hip-hop, left his foster home and headed south. Now, despite his lengthening tooth, he is still a hero of Perpignan youth, eschewing the all too common rap culture of guns and sexism for a more positive message of tolerance and multi-culturalism, while giving a voice to the poor of the urban south by delivering concerts and workshops in schools and prisons and campaigning against the excesses of large corporate bodies.

So, exotic though the backstreets and fountains in the video might be, close your eyes and soak in the sound, two styles melding in perfect harmony, ancient tradition meeting new world, the mountains meeting Mohammed half way. And the number of nations and races that have merged over time to result in this music are too numerous to mention. Which makes one wonder about all the nonsense currently being talked in these northern isles about immigration, Britishness and, of course, Europe itself. And no, I don't know what the words mean either. Apart from "Cante"which means "sing" - always a good idea.

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