Composer, singer, percussionist, founding member of Jil Jilala, Mohamed Derhem left the group for a solo career in the mid 1990s. His intense, possessed presence onstage and his strong, impassioned singing made Derhem always appear to me as the pivotal figure in the group, though I don't know enough about the history and internal dynamics of the group to comment deeply on this point.
Derhem (at the congas here), is the vocal soloist in the second half of this song, which was featured in our previous post:
I don't remember exactly when I got this tape. It appears to date from the late 1990s or early 2000s. Sonically it shares much with Jil Jilala albums of the 1980s/90s that flirted interestingly with a mechanical rhythmic feel (like this). The main differences are the absence of group vocals and the use of synthesized horns. This horn sound was ubiquitous in 1990s Moroccan pop chaâbi and rai music, and it might have been a recipe for disaster to combine it with the nominally "folk/roots" sounds that drove Jil Jilala. Happily, though, the combination of complex rhythms, strong melodies, and Derhem's fiery vocal creates a compelling tension that, to my ear, works nicely.
A web search didn't turn up any other solo albums by Derhem after this one, though he has participated in a few one-off singles over the years, notably this collaboration with rapper Elam Jay in 2007, that also features Gnawi mâllem and Jil Jilala member Mustapha Baqbou:
Though his musical output seems to be sporadic, Derhem maintains a high profile via Moroccan television, where he has been serving as a jury member on Studio 2M, the Moroccan equivalent of American Idol.
Mohamed Derhem (ESD T.C. 1175)
01 Al Matla
02 Ahya Hadak
03 Om Al Karam
05 Ana Bnadem
06 Ila Dak el Hal
The Stash has it all here.
Or, if you want more pristine (though at lower bitrate) digital versions of these tunes, Yala's got 'em here.