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Born Hamid Cheriet in 1949 in Algeria, Idir found success in the '70s with the song "Rsed A Yidess" and two albums of North African-flavored songs, before making a high-profile comeback in 1999 with an all-star collaboration album, Identités. Following the success of "Rsed A Yidess" in 1973, Idir left for Paris to sign with Pathe. They released his first album, A Vava Inouva, in 1975; its title track became a mammoth hit. Casting him firmly in the tradition of Berber music, his signature sound featured traditional Kabylian flute and derbouka. Along with Ferhat Mehenni and Lounis Ait Menguellet, Idir helped to bring rai music to mainstream audiences, paving the way for artists like Rachid Taha and Khaled. Upon returning in 1999, Idir recorded Identités with artists like Manu Chao and Zebda, and repeated the trick on 2007's portmanteau album La France des Couleurs. The desire to reflect contemporary, racially integrated France is felt in all his new music, in the texts as much as his choice of collaborators, ranging from African legend Tiken Jah Fakoly to French urban acts like Kenza Farah. ~ Caspar Salmon