Aissaoua Jam Session (Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop)

It took me 2 days to track down a drum set in the Medina. It belonged to the local muscle, aka Driss, aka Big D, aka Boss of the NBT (Nice Boys Team). Driss is also the lead singer of an Issawa music group and is an expert in several hand-drum instruments. I won his respect after playing the beat from “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems” and now have his protection in the Arsat-Lamdelsi neighborhood. After googling “Rod Solaimani” and finding a clip from a live show, Driss now insists on calling me Rodness, which is short for His Rodness, which was the stage name I was christened with when I drummed for the instrumental hip-hop group Epiphany back in Atlanta.

Driss and I performed the next night at Richards’s hotel. I asked him to play for a minute or two so I could calibrate sound levels on the video camera MTV so graciously lent me, and he played one song for a full 15 minutes. I made every gesture known to man that means “STOP,” but he just kept on going. This happened for a while until I realized that I was witnessing a cultural-musical idiosyncrasy of sorts. Driss and his fellow musicians were taught to perform their songs from beginning to end, which are mostly odes to God or the Prophet Muhammad. To Driss, the song is sacred. It cannot be divided or sampled, and it must be finished once started.

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