Form and Structure of Ra'i Music
To a casual listener, Ra'i music sounds like Western pop music, sung in French or Arabic. Indeed, the Western influences of modern Ra'i, sometimes called pop Ra'i, have created a fusion of styles that defies categorization. Modern Ra'i singers use Western instruments, and the form of their music is usually borrowed from Western styles, including flamenco, hip hop, disco, reggae, rock, jazz, and funk.
Despite Ra'i's status as a world fusion genre, it maintains ties to its Arab and Bedouin influences. These can be seen in the riffs, tonality, and instrumentation of the music. However, each Ra'i singer creates a unique blend of Middle Eastern and Western traditions in his music, and it is impossible to dictate the degree of presence of either.
"Music transculturation has allowed Ra'i to adapt to different cultural influences, ethnicities, societies and economies because it has been influenced by colonialism, urbanization, immigration and different styles of Ra'i have resulted from these extra-musical influences. Each style has its own unique mix of the local and the global aided by music transculturation. This is why each style has its own form of authenticity and French Ra'i or international Ra'i has its own authenticity that is not the same as the authenticity of Algerian Ra'i.” - Elizabeth Woods, Ra'i: The Deconstruction of a Musical Genre
Ra'i music is also a unique case because it is a style of music that has, in recent years, deliberately developed to appeal to Western audiences. Unlike other Maghrebi genres, such as Chaabi, Ra'i music used Western influences to attract an international audience, instead of just appealing to a local audience. Therefore the Western influences in Ra'i music are stronger and more deliberately used than in other Moroccan styles of music.