Tomatoes, Apples and Bananas.
In a little side street near Jemal’f’na square in Marrakesh, I was doing a little street busking with the Fish accordionist MaiQue. Our repertoire of Scottish/Arabic tunes had attracted the usual small crowd of enthusiastic locals. At a certain moment a young man walked up to me and said that he was a rapper in the Arabic language and would I like to do some recording with him. He lived on the coast and we agreed we would meet up there later on in our musical itinerary through the beautiful land of Morocco.
We eventually did arrive in the town of Essaouira, immortalised in film by Orson Welles (Othello) and in song by Jimi Hendrix (Castles Made of Sand). This is where our rapper acquaintance lived. His name Ajoub, but his hip hop name was Saouiri Fugitive. Away from the tourist beaches and tea houses we went deep into the suburbs, to a low rise block where he lived with his parents and his little sister. We sat on the double bed in his parent’s bed room while he and his friend rapped acapella into my mini disc recorder …… ‘Matesha, Tefeheh, Benana’ a refrain about tomatoes, apples and bananas and all manner of things in the market place of Essaouira, some of which were beyond the means of the local population but sold to strange visitors and foreigners.
I came away with two recordings and on returning to the Fish Tank in Europe I added a drum track and several Fish Memory instruments, mostly strings and reeds. The result I find charming and unlike the vast majority of the hip hop you will hear on the radio. If Forgotten Fish are a bit strange then Ajoub himself is also a very quirky rap artist, inhabiting all manner of voices and characters, one minute sounding like a child, the next like an old woman.