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Hassan Ben Jaafar

Oral history interview conducted by Liz H. Strong

February 12, 2018

Call number: 2018.006.03

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STRONG: All right. So. I'll mark my tape. Today is February 12th -- Monday -- 2018. My name is Liz Strong. I'm here with Hassan Ben Jaafar and Diane -- I don't remember your last name.

DUGGAN: Duggan.

STRONG: Duggan. Thank you. And Diane Duggan. This is for the Brooklyn Historical Society Muslims in Brooklyn Oral History Project. Hassan, thank you.

BEN JAAFAR: You're welcome.

STRONG: Tell me when and where you were born.

BEN JAAFAR: [I was] born in Morocco. Fez. [And my] family [was] from Meknes. [I lived] in Fez a lot of years. There's a lot of Maâlem in Fez and Morocco. There's a [inaudible] my father, Maâlem Abdullah Ben Jaafar, in Morocco, Fez. [He was] working a lot of years -- in Gnawa in Morocco everywhere.

DUGGAN: Anta [you]?

BEN JAAFAR: Howwa [he].

DUGGAN: Oh, howwa. He.

BEN JAAFAR: The story is [of] my father.



BEN JAAFAR: My father loved Gnawa music. He loved to hang out [with] some people helped him. He opened a new school for Gnawa music in Morocco to learn Gnawa, to learn language, to learn a lot of something, to hang out a little bit with my father. [It was] somewhere to listen. "What do you need? What kind of song? I like it."

[The] first time I go to Tangier, in Morocco -- [they] have Gnawa in Tangier, and Maâlem Abdul Wahid, and had Maâlem Mohammed, Maâlem Hamid. There's a lot of old Gnawa music in Morocco. I hang out with him and I'm listen a little play just a little bit of Gnawa and Chamali [inaudible]. [After, I] come back to hang out a little bit with my father. His brother [came] to [take an instrument to] 2:00my father to help him, to give him guembri, to fix some ceremony for my brother Hamid. [It is for] Hamid to take [the] guembri to play ceremony, a lot of Bambara, and song, everything. And Hamid [had] experience. My father [gave] him experience.

I [had] a little bit [of] experience [from] my father. [I went to] a lot of big maâlems and masters in Morocco to take a lot of something for me -- and power -- and story -- and experience. I hung out with Maâlem Sam in Casablanca. He's the same as my father. Maâlem Sam [is] big. Maâlem Sam [was] first in Casablanca, and everywhere in Morocco. He [was a] big master. Same [as] my 3:00father. He was friends [with] my father. Maâlem Sam [made] some guembri to give my father. I'm baby. I open my eyes to see my father have [an instrument]. I [don't] understand who is guy [who made an] instrument for my father -- to play guembri. There's a lot of years I hung out with my father to listen [to] Gnawa -- a lot of Gnawa to come. With my father in [the] house, [there were] people to talk and [tell stories with] guembri. Who [gave the] guembri [to] my father? [It was] Maâlem Sam [who gave] guembri to my father.

Maâlem Sam [was a] big master, and he [was] a good person. He [had a] clean heart. [He] loved Gnawa music. Same [as] my father. He loved Gnawa music to take care of him a lot. In Casablanca,

his guembri -- my father [worked a lot]. I no touch [my father's] guembri. My 4:00father [went] to [a] ceremony, [and had] a lot of work. He [had an] accident when his guembri [got wet], [it's skin]. His guembri is done. [It won't resonate if the skin gets wet]. His guembri is dead. It's done.

DUGGAN: Forever?

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. It's dead. You need to open everything [and take] maybe three, four days -- one week -- to fix it. You know? My father [came] to play guembri with this guy -- [with a] band to play a guembri. [They left it somewhere where the rain came in and got water on the --] It stopped my father. "Okay, leave him alone." This guy came [and said], "Maâlem, I'll fix it." "[Don't] fix it. Leave him alone." "No, Maâlem, I'll fix it. I'll fix it. No worry. You bring a" -- gas? Small fire?

DUGGAN: The tongs?


BEN JAAFAR: No, it's fire -- it's a lot of small pieces in Morocco. It's gas to fire -- to put heat.

DUGGAN: Oh, heat -- like a blowtorch.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. It's small.


BEN JAAFAR: Yes, yes. Fire. You make something like that to work in -- I don't know. With this one (refers to guembri he is holding), [it has the] same mouth. It think maybe [if he placed the heat inside the mouth], little bit [by] little bit maybe it would [shrink] something. [It had the] same skin [that resonates] (taps the skin of the guembri he is holding). [Just like when you take fire to plastic, and it shrinks] like that. [It's that same way with the skin on a] guembri.

My father [talked] to him. "Listen, this is my intrument. Leave [it] alone." We have time to take guembri, to come back and Maâlem Sam in Casablanca -- to give him -- "Maâlem, please, to fix it something for me."


It's my father is dead. His guembri give [to] Maâlem Sam in house. Because my father dead. Is my brother Hamid to hang out [with] Maâlem Sam. Anytime Maâlem Sam saw him, "Take [the] guembri," is my father's. "Take a guembri in house." "Maâlem, leave [it] alone. My father, he give to you -- my father is dead. Maybe my brother Hassan [will] come and give to you." I come to Casablanca --

DUGGAN: Your father died before Hamid died?


DUGGAN: Oh, I didn't know that.

STRONG: When did your father die?

BEN JAAFAR: Yes, father is die -- it's a lot of work, or something like that. Smoke or something like that. No relax a little bit, no have sleep. Lots -- he's a lot of work in Morocco, because Gnawa is a lot of, lot of work, you know? Everywhere. To take people, to talk on customer, to blah blah blah, you know? He's dead.

DUGGAN: How old were you?

BEN JAAFAR: My father maybe is 20, 25.


DUGGAN: You were about 20 or 25?

BEN JAAFAR: Three -- 20, 20, and five.

DUGGAN: Oh. Three 20, 20 is 65?



BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. My father.

DUGGAN: [laughter]

STRONG: Your father was 65?


DUGGAN: Sitiyn [60]?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Arabic]

DUGGAN: [laughter] I'm learning numbers.

BEN JAAFAR: Sitiyn, yes. Is 20, 20, 20.

DUGGAN: Twenty is -- 20 is my limit, but [inaudible].

STRONG: [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: My brother -- my father is dead. Hamid [came]. Something. Hamid [had a] ceremony in Fez. I'm working lila. Hamid have an accident in Rabat. My family called me, blah blah blah blah. I'm [at] lila to play drum. A lot of people wait for lila; something like that. Somebody [came] and talk to me. They said, we have -- you go to family, blah blah blah blah. [Goes] to fix a ceremony in Morocco. Somebody [went] to talk to the maâlem. His brother, tonight, he [had 8:00an] accident in Rabat. And he need to [inaudible] go there.

He told me slowly because he's have -- something is -- I don't know. I'm scared. First time I'm scared. He's telling me, come talk to the maâlem. I'm come [inaudible] follow him to talk to me. I don't know what to think, why he talk to me. What kind of question? He told me, "Maâlem is -- you need to go to mother house to see your family." 'Cause my brother -- my brother is -- he have accident in Rabat. I'm leaving Fez. I'm leave Gnawa, I have Maâlem with me in Tangier to hang out with me. I'm leaving to play a ceremony. "[Don't stop because a lot of people [have] come." No. I'm going. Rabat. I'm going to Rabat to help my mother, two sister, and family, everybody, to understand what he -- my brother have accident, which take him in hospital.

His mother no understand what kind of hospital. [inaudible] Is a big family. His childrens, Abdraman and Dris [2 of Hassan's younger brothers. There were 7 boys and 4 girls, and Hassan was second oldest, after Hamid]. Is children something 9:00like that. I don't understand what --

I come to Rabat -- come back to Rabat. I have a lot of customer in Rabat everywhere -- Casablanca, everywhere. Oh, you need something [inaudible]. I'm going to my friend to work. I'm going to first in the hospital. I talk to who I need to. He told me no, tonight it's Sunday. I [inaudible] -- (sound of phone ringing) --

I wait. I wait. I go to my friend. [He was] working in Palais Royale in Morocco and the king in Morocco -- he's my friend. I'm go with him. Please. You need to help me. He's my father. He's dead. You take him in hospital. I need to bring him and family to take care of him, to something like that. You go with me to talk to him. [He does. He came] to Fez. I know you need to have some -- to help him. Something like -- he helped me with the ambulance. [He gave] me everything we need. We took my brother in house -- his family to see him -- something like that -- to give him --

Next place I go to have a lot of job in Fez. I go to Fez to work, [I] come back 10:00to Rabat, I go to Fez, I come -- it's maybe two weeks, something like that. It's a lot of work, because there's a lot of families have come to -- to family to see Hamid and family. And -- yeah.

Now, thank God, [I] have a lot of friends with me everywhere in Morocco and New York and everywhere. Yeah. Thanks God. There's Diane -- you help me a lot of something. I'm teach Innov Gnawa band in New York for live music -- to talk and song for life -- people to talk and family [inaudible] [who have died] -- there's a lot of children [inaudible] [who have died] his music and Sufi [phonetic] music -- to talk is [inaudible] yourself -- no have some book and paper to look [at] to play. It's something to come to yourself. There's a lot of 11:00song. Gnawa, you work 24 hours, no stop. Yes. Yeah.

STRONG: Tell me a little bit about the history of Gnawa.

BEN JAAFAR: History of the Gnawa is -- is people -- a lot of Africans [came to] Morocco -- to hang out in Morocco. You play Gnawa and family -- there's people to hear Gnawa somewhere. I have people and black people, to marry, and white people [phonetic]in Morocco. They have babies. These babies go to somewhere -- a school -- [they] talk to [him]. What are you doing with father? He's my father to play some music. Why kind of music? I don't understand, because is it some guembri, or something like that, to play something guembri, blah blah blah blah. There's people who talk. There's a lot of people to with father.


What are you doing to work? I'm Gnawa. What is this Gnawa? Gnawa is band -- to play drum, to talk for God. It's Muslim people. It's clean people. You know? [It's for] happy people; at same time it's for people [who are] sick. Gnawa is [to] come back [with the] band to bring sugar, to bring food, to bring some meat, to come to visit him in house and kids and family, you know? Gnawa is come to [inaudible] see him this guy is much better. We told him, okay, next week we bring somebody [to the] house.

Next week, he bring people, he bring a lot of people is coming to bring some baraka -- is gifts -- is baraka -- for God. It's music, is Sufi music. You talk on God, to talk Muhammad, to talk a lot of something. It's got to hear you some music -- so [inaudible0:12:59]. [It's the same to] go to hospital [and] come back. [With music] you help people [who are] sick, you help people with a lot of 13:00something to thank. People sometime is tired. To listen to some Gnawa, to make a lot of power, to -- it's very happy, you know?

Gnawa is music for -- is a gift. Everybody like it. Everywhere. Gnawa is coming clean. No drink, alcohol, no problem. And ceremony, 24 hours to play. You finish, you go to mosque to pray. Everybody. By good night, you know?

DUGGAN: (speaking in background; inaudible)

BEN JAAFAR: You make some money -- a little bit of money -- because everybody has a job. And Gnawa is like [inaudible]. Everybody have a job. And Gnawa is come to -- Fridays, Sundays, people is off, is come to hang out in Gnawa -- to sit down, to play music, to drink tea, to talk. We have some ceremony; you go to 14:00ceremony. You have some -- and party somewhere. And people in Gnawa, today have your party; tomorrow Karim has a party in the house. Gnawa is like -- yeah. Gnawa is like -- yeah.

STRONG: Let's pause one moment, just to welcome Karim in.

BEN JAAFAR: Sure. Sure.


STRONG: Okay. So we are restarting our recording now that Karim has joined us. This is Liz Strong again with Hassan Ben Jaafar. You were just telling me a little bit about the history of Gnawa. Tell me, what do you remember about your father's school? Who were the people there? What was life like there?

BEN JAAFAR: My father, he fixes a school for Gnawa to learn Gnawa first -- to play qraqeb, some drum, to dance. It's a lot of work.

ABABOU: It's like a club. A club -- so every Gnawa musician coming to the club, 15:00it was to train the guys, the Gnawa guys, how to do the qraqeb -- the castanet -- how to use the drums. It was like a club. In Morocco, we call it zawiya --

BEN JAAFAR: Zawiya, yes.

ABABOU: Zawiya, gnawa -- that means a club -- a long time. They still have this kind of club. We call -- in Morocco, we call it zawiya. That's how we call it. So the musicians hang out over there, and they practice, they talk about the music, they talk about everything. We call it zawiya. That was his father -- his father made the club. So everybody come into the club, learning, teaching, practicing the music.

DUGGAN: And they would stay sometimes. They would stay -- sleep there --

ABABOU: Yeah. Yeah. Like --

DUGGAN: -- and when he talks about going to Maâlem Sam, that's what he did. So there's a constant enrichment and cross-fertilization. The people who were really serious -- Hamid used to do that, too --

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. My brother.

DUGGAN: -- go to different maâlems.

ABABOU: Yeah. Like, the musicians coming from the other city. So they come into the club, they stay there, they sleep there, they eat there. Like, I don't know 16:00how long they're gonna stay, but they stay there.

BEN JAAFAR: Maybe there's people to stay two week, people to stay three weeks, people stay more than a month. You know, there's people who's coming [from] everywhere. You love Gnawa; you love Maâlem. You take care of him a lot, you help him, you help family. He's come in house. And Maâlem. Maâlem [is the same as] father -- to help every Gnawa to come to hang out in the house, you know? Gnawa is alive -- no have problem, no have people to find. Maâlem and band -- maybe 20 people, maybe more. And band -- big band. No have drama, no have problem.

ABABOU: Because you respect the master --

BEN JAAFAR: Maâlem, you watched everybody. You need something to -- no sleep. He [gives] everybody a place to sleep. Some go to Fez and Marrakesh and big 17:00ceremony in Morocco. Same time as go to bus, and maybe there's 20 people on bus -- every Gnawa is come to Marrakesh.

ABABOU: Living like family.

BEN JAAFAR: My father [knew people who lived everywhere] --

ABABOU: Watching [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: -- place for everybody to -- something like that. And now [I] play same like that. I have a trip in New York City. I go -- first I go to California, I have a -- and I work in California. People contact with me on phone to talk, or how much you need, blah blah blah. [I tell them] first we need band to sleep good, to eat good, shower good. There's money. I no have problem with money. I need people to take care of him -- these people, to take care of people in music, [who came] to work on music. Not people is -- is sleeping in place -- no good. [If you] wake up in the morning, tired, what can [you] do? You 18:00go to play [for] people who like to see show.

Now you go, and people tell me, "I need five people." I talk to him, "I need six people." Maybe -- I have five people, maybe somebody wake up, he's sick. What are you doing? I'm working [with] four people. No problem. Because there's a lot of hard work with me. A lot of work -- hard. I need five people, any time, in band. I need one person -- take care of band.


BEN JAAFAR: We have six -- same time, your people, you told me, six people. I'm talk to him, "Listen, I need seven people." Because it's band -- I need people to take care of him. I need one people -- person -- to cooking for him. All right? I need people to clean, and stuff, to watch instrument, to clean instrument. I need next guy to go to shop and food. For -- everybody have to do something. I do something a lot. Gnawa like that. Everybody come to see Gnawa. 19:00Gnawa is band -- to talk. And it's nice, there's people sleeping, there's people talk on phone. It's time, it's show, we go, yes, guy, [inaudible] yella [let's go], hurry up. No wait. No.

ABABOU: You have no time.

BEN JAAFAR: Same time -- yeah, I mean, leave people hotel. I no like to stay, these people, to wait -- for me.

ABABOU: No time, right.

BEN JAAFAR: I'm leave people in hotel. You [inaudible], you stay in hotel. Sometime, with me, and Diane, you're with me, you see. "Maâlem, please, no --" I am do that, because I need to [not be late to the] show. Because people --

ABABOU: The time is the time.

BEN JAAFAR: It's time, it's time. And you play. Because there's people who play with me [a lot] --

ABABOU: [Speaking Darija]

BEN JAAFAR: -- to give you place to help you, and food, and hotel, and a car to come to take you -- to pick you up. I know -- is taken time, to give him time. You know, give him [speaking Darija].

DUGGAN: [speaking Darija] [laughter].

STRONG: What is your favorite type of music to play, your favorite situation to play music for, your favorite color? What do you love most about it?


ABABOU: [speaking Darija]

BEN JAAFAR: It's a -- first, a song -- I like it -- it's talk for Allah [inaudible] ya nabina rasul Allah [God and the Prophet Muhammad]. Is Bambara first. Is talk and and same Sufi song -- you talk is a lot of some people to dead, a lot of masters and Maâlems. There's a lot of -- and women and men, too --

ABABOU: Singing about God and prophet --

BEN JAAFAR: -- in Gnawa.

ABABOU: -- and the masters who -- who pass away. That's Bambara. That's, like, [inaudible] Bambara.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija] I'm living in Fez. [speaking Darija] is Marrakesh, [speaking Darija] in Tangier, [speaking Darija] --

ABABOU: Calling the cities.

DUGGAN: [speaking Darija]?

ABABOU: [speaking Darija] -- let's go visit.

BEN JAAFAR: Song. To play. [speaking Darija] is [speaking Darija] --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija] is "visit."

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija] is "go."

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija]. Gnawa. Yeah. Is Gnawa in Morocco -- to stay, to 21:00come to visit you, to hang out, to come to see him. You see him, you stay in -- in countries, people come to remember, he's Maâlem Sam, he's Maâlem Hamida Bosso[phonetic], and Maâlem Ben Jaafar -- is a lot of years. Babies. People is come to, like a tour -- he's Maâlem, he's there, yes. Come to talk to him. He's come to -- yes, my father is come. "Oh, yes, how are you?" [laughter] I remember -- I will come --

ABABOU: Yeah. The master's visit each other.

BEN JAAFAR: I'm working -- there's a lot of maâlems in Morocco is coming -- and going out with my brother sometimes. He's coming out, you see him, you hang out in the house. You'll have some tea, [you'll] play. [They say to him], "Maâlem, Maâlem, talk to Hassan to play something -- to dance." He says, "I'm just gonna come to dance."


BEN JAAFAR: With my feet. To dance.

ABABOU: That's a good point. Hassan, he can play the Gnawa kind -- from Marrakesh, he can play the Gnawa from Essaouira --


BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: -- he can play the Gnawa from north Tangier, Fez --

BEN JAAFAR: And [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: -- Casablanca. That's -- yeah. He can play all these kind of Gnawa. And it's not all of the Gnawa musician can do this. Because he was -- yeah, he stay in many cities. And the other masters from other cities, they're always coming to his father, so he learned -- he was listening and learning since he was a kid. Yeah. That's a good thing -- for Hassan.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Same time -- same time in -- I'm going to some city -- different in my country, in Morocco -- Tangier, and maybe -- and Marrakesh -- there's nobody to understand me and Maâlem and something like that. You see me -- I don't know, his --


BEN JAAFAR: -- he's Gnawa, that's it.

ABABOU: They didn't even know him.

BEN JAAFAR: You know? I'm cool with him. I'm play qraqeb, I'm drum, I'm -- anything with him. Same band. I having problem and band -- is a little bit and 23:00[inaudible] -- he stop the music. These people, to [inaudible], something like that, he stopped the music. He says, "My friend call me, please, [inaudible], come to play." I'm nobody -- "Listen, I remember, Maâlem. I need to talk to you." Is Maâlem being nervous now. "Come to play with him. Come down." I'm come to play these people -- "what? Is Hassan he play? What are you gonna -- ?" "Is maâlem in Fez, in Morocco." "Oh, yes." These people in Marrakesh remember me. I have people to remember me as big maâlems -- to remember me, because you remember, first --

ABABOU: Your father.

BEN JAAFAR: -- is my father.

ABABOU: Yeah. It was --

BEN JAAFAR: Who is this guy is Hassan Ben Jaafar? I have Hamid Ben Jaafar. I have four brothers sang Gnawa -- now, to play. I have two in Belgium. And there is another Hamid -- you live in Belgium.

ABABOU: Yeah. They are masters too.


BEN JAAFAR: Because my father, Hamid is dead. Now I'm working. Yes. I'm working for Morocco and New York, for everywhere. To have a lot of musicians -- to make them happy, to send them a lot of stuff. Any time to talk in Gnawa, in Morocco, to -- to -- "hi guys, I'm [inaudible] I'd like to come to Morocco to --

ABABOU: Yeah. Always [inaudible] --

BEN JAAFAR: -- to bring something is nice. [inaudible] a nice show, and people in Morocco. There's a lot of people -- you wait for me, so I like to come in Morocco. Yeah.

DUGGAN: If you listen to the music, you'll hear the names. Like, I remember once he said his father's name, Abdallah. He's probably said it a lot of times. Sometimes the kouyo sings back to him, "Ben Jaafar." And once, in Boiler Room, he's singing something -- "Brooklyn, blah blah blah blah" --

ABABOU: Yes. New York --

DUGGAN: Yeah. So it's a living art form. It's something that they compose and sample and -- within the form.


BEN JAAFAR: I play -- and -- it's my show. I no have same show in Morocco and somewhere. I'm [at rehearsal] every weekend. And band -- Innov Gnawa. To give them some experience to do something, to qraqeb, to sing, to kouyo, to a lot of stuff. Because there's Gnawa in Morocco, everybody -- to see a video. Oh my gosh, he's Gnawa, he's in New York. You see him before? He's loud, he should play now. He's --


BEN JAAFAR: He's a good people to blah, blah. There's a lot of question, a lot of talk. You go to Grammy, there's never nobody to come to Grammy on Gnawa in New York. I have in Gnawa in New York a lot of time -- a lot of years. Is Gnawa in New York to come to stop a little bit. Is a lot of people to go to Morocco.


BEN JAAFAR: I remember three people and he's there. And Gnawa in Morocco is family and Gnawa in Morocco, Casablanca. To come and be there. I'm to see -- 26:00first time to see one guy -- I'm see next guy from Marrakesh, Hassan Hakmoun -- he live in Brooklyn. He's Gnawa -- is -- he happy so -- I know. He's friend with me a long time in Morocco. I have -- next guy's come in Casablanca. "I have a green card. You hang out in New York." Maybe sixteen years. I now love New York. I -- you know, there's a lot -- New York is a lot of --

DUGGAN: Howwa?

ABABOU: Hamid?


ABABOU: Hamid. He was here. But he doesn't like living here, so he [inaudible] --

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. He go to Morocco.

ABABOU: He's a maâlem, too.

DUGGAN: Oh, yeah.



ABABOU: Before, it was, like, four or five maâlems here --


ABABOU: -- living in New York.


ABABOU: But they went back. Now, only Hassan Hakmoun living here.

DUGGAN: Be careful of pronouns. Howwa means "he." 'Ana means "I." Yeah [laughter].

STRONG: Okay. But you like living in New York?

BEN JAAFAR: [I] live in New York --

STRONG: What do you like about it?

BEN JAAFAR: I like -- I like New York because I take a lot of experience for 27:00instrument -- for -- to sound check. I having some speakers. I have some [inaudible] and guembri to make me -- to make me is -- you play -- very happy. 'Cause Morocco, any time, you (makes noise of percussion) -- something like that. I don't have -- and -- to fix it fast.

ABABOU: Technology [laughter].

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Now we have -- there's a lot of --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

DUGGAN: Resources [laughter].

BEN JAAFAR: There's a -- I have a lot of -- is friend with me -- in New York City -- is Gnawa. There's a lot of friend who love Gnawa. I have my friend, they live in Bronx. I have zawiya in Bronx.

ABABOU: Yeah. We have a zawiya -- like, I tell you, the club. Yeah. We have one in Bronx.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. You play --

ABABOU: Yeah. A friend of ours, his name is Latif.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. Yeah.

ABABOU: They have a big house -- his own house -- so the basement is zawiya. It looks like Morocco. It's traditional.



ABABOU: Everything looks like a bazaar and everything. You've seen it --


DUGGAN: I went in to see it. And I call it "the Moroccan clubhouse."

ABABOU: Yeah. So everybody goes there --

DUGGAN: It was just a lovely --

ABABOU: -- hang out, and sit in there. Practice in there. Yeah. That's a long time.

DUGGAN: And the tile -- the kitchen -- food is very important.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. You cook, and --

DUGGAN: The kitchen, and everybody knows how to cook.

BEN JAAFAR: -- you plays -- play music, you play drum, you play qraqeb, and nobody --

ABABOU: They have a lot of instruments.


ABABOU: 'Cause he's a musician, too.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. Same time, go to Karim to hang out, he's there, maybe it's five hours, six hours to stay there. Yes. He's Karim, he live in Brooklyn. I have one hour and a half, he's come in Bronx. One hour and a half, he's come back in the house. You hang out. He's my friend from Tangier. [He] love Gnawa. [He] love everybody's come in New York -- to hang out in the house, to sleep in the house. Yeah. He's my friend a lot of years. I'm working with him. And the -- and the store --

ABABOU: Bazaar store.

BEN JAAFAR: [inaudible]. In Manhattan. On Bowery. There's a lot of friend -- I'm 29:00living with them. It's a lot of years. They have next house in Brooklyn. In Red Hook to hang out. He's there.

STRONG: I was going to ask -- is this the same place that used to be in Red Hook when you first came?

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. Yes. First time is come to Atlantic Avenue.

ABABOU: Queens.

BEN JAAFAR: Atlantic Avenue.

ABABOU: Atlantic Avenue.

BEN JAAFAR: Atlantic Avenue.

DUGGAN: Latif had a place in Red Hook.


BEN JAAFAR: Atlantic Avenue. You always come to Red Hook and then -- yeah. [speaking Darija].

STRONG: Let's talk about that a little bit. You shared your story with me -- you talked last week about when you came to New York City and had this adventure that eventually brought you to Atlantic Avenue --


STRONG: -- to Masjid Al-Farooq.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, yeah.

STRONG: Tell me those memories -- about your first few years in Brooklyn.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. I'm come to Brooklyn. I'm working in a place in Brooklyn -- a restaurant, something like that. You finish job, I'm come to library, some time 30:00I need to -- to hang out a little bit on the outside. Because I'm see a lot of Moroccan people who hang out on Atlantic Avenue -- to come, to bring tea, to bring coffee -- to [inaudible] place, Arabic place -- to eat food -- halal food. And to hang out. There's a lot of community on Atlantic Avenue.

I'm live on Atlantic Avenue maybe five, six years. Yeah. [phonetic]Me change. Me go to Bronx. You hang out a little bit in the Bronx and come back in Brooklyn. He's got him in the house on [inaudible] Avenue, you know? In New York, there's a lot of friend everywhere. I love New York. I love a lot of musicians in New York. Sometime is come to visit them, sometime is come to visit me. And to make something [inaudible] -- nice show in New York. Yeah.


Now there's people to understand a little bit -- Gnawa. Before, you have a lot of time for him to work with him to teach him and stuff. Now, it's much better. There's people to understand what you're doing. Yeah. Four people to play, five people to play, six people to play. Whatever. You make people is very -- very happy in Gnawa. There's a lot of community to talk Innov Gnawa now. And New York and Morocco. Everywhere. [inaudible] a new album and Bonobo -- [I] work with them and [inaudible] and Coachella. It's nice song to talk and "Koyo Ganda" is people to listen to -- "Koyo Ganda" in electronic and Gnawa in Morocco. It's something that's different. Everybody's happy. You love -- and music (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)

ABABOU: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible).


ABABOU: [speaking Darija] Atlantic Avenue.



ABABOU: [speaking Darija] Brooklyn.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Brooklyn --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija] Le Figaro.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

DUGGAN: Oh, yeah. [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. Working in a restaurant. And go to Brooklyn next.

ABABOU: And you stay in the Hassan Hakmoun's house with his family?

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. I stay in Hassan Hakmoun --

ABABOU: Bushwick?

BEN JAAFAR: Bushwick, yes. I need to go to Atlantic Avenue more to work on --

ABABOU: The furniture --

BEN JAAFAR: Furniture, yes.

ABABOU: -- on Atlantic Avenue.


ABABOU: So first of all, you work in the Le Figaro.


ABABOU: And then -- like -- [speaking Darija]? Like, two years, you work in Le Figaro, the restaurant. It was a French -- French --

DUGGAN: Café. In the village. Yeah.

ABABOU: Café. Okay.

BEN JAAFAR: Café. Italian and American.

ABABOU: And then he work on the -- a furniture store --

BEN JAAFAR: Furniture. Yeah.

ABABOU: -- in Atlantic Avenue.

BEN JAAFAR: Atlantic Avenue. I live on Atlantic Avenue.

ABABOU: With the Moroccan guys.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. There's a lot of community -- on Moroccan and Jewish -- 33:00Moroccan too. In store. Yeah. I'm working with them. A lot.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: And he was doing -- he was performing music. So doing the job, every time he got a music -- music job, so he do it at night. In Tagine [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Like, once a week. It was playing in Tagine. Tagine was on --

DUGGAN: Oh, really?

ABABOU: -- Forty-Second Street.


DUGGAN: Oh, wow.

ABABOU: Yeah. A long time. It's not the same place.

DUGGAN: Right. It moved. He told me it moved.

ABABOU: Tagine, it was on Eighth or Ninth Avenue --


ABABOU: -- and Fortieth Street.

BEN JAAFAR: Nine. Yeah.


BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, you play a lot -- at a lot of place on New York. Every --

DUGGAN: You played [for them].

BEN JAAFAR: -- every something. Sometime --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: He work with the Yemenese guys -- a grocery store on Nostrand Avenue after that -- after the furniture store.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. I'm [inaudible] any time to work -- in Gnawa music. You play somewhere -- in Brooklyn and Williamsburg. And place in Zebulon. Because the 34:00people is from -- French people.

ABABOU: Right. They're from France.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. You work with them.

ABABOU: [inaudible] a long time. Yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: You work with them. You work with them a lot of years. Maybe it's five, six years -- be there. And --

ABABOU: [inaudible].

BEN JAAFAR: It's come a lot of people to hear you Gnawa --

ABABOU: [inaudible].

BEN JAAFAR: -- in Manhattan. Gnawa in Brooklyn. Where? Hassan Ben Jaafar is come. He's come. And my friend -- first -- and from city, he's [inaudible], he'd live in Morocco.

ABABOU: Salé[phonetic].

BEN JAAFAR: Salé. He's come to -- he has a wife, who told him, "Come to see, now we have show in Gnawa." He talk to her, "No, I no like Gnawa." He sees guy to play Gnawa.

ABABOU: Oh, Ahmed.

BEN JAAFAR: His wife told him, "I know Gnawa Hassan Hakmoun. This guy, Hassan Ben Jaafar something. He's -- "

ABABOU: He was like, "I never heard of him."

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, her husband, he talked to her, "I never heard of this guy. Where you from?" His wife told him, "He's from Morocco. He's Hassan Ben Jaafar, he's from Morocco. He play Gnawa in Morocco." "Where?" [She] talk to [him], 35:00"Come with me -- you follow me. I have a place." And [they] see place on Facebook. [I] play in Williamsburg. He said Ahmed first time is come with me. He said, "Ahmed, you love music, you hear your music, and Morocco Gnawa. You understand. You talk, you sing it, and people -- " He's come, first time, [he] see, and next guy with me. I play. And band -- [inaudible]. [He] take a instrument -- a drum -- [he] take inside and carve -- on the inside -- on to restore, to play. And Ahmed's come to hang out with you and to talk.

DUGGAN: That's [inaudible] Gnawa.

BEN JAAFAR: Is Gnawa, [he] play tonight. Is Gnawa, [he] talk, "[He] play tonight?" "Yes, [he] play tonight." Yeah. He said, Ahmed is coming to hear something and [he] play -- he love music and hang out with me. [He] touch -- yeah, and Ahmed now, he's maybe five years together. He play with me and in band. Yeah. He's a good guy. He [has] a good wife. Yeah.


And same time, [we] go to [inaudible] Diane -- to go to the [inaudible] in house to hang out with him. He have a lot of instruments. He have guembri, he have drum, he have -- he's fun.

I have next guy -- Samir is come from South Carolina. He's come to New York to hang out with me a little bit to see and play. What you play? A lot of years.

ABABOU: Yeah, he came first time -- he came for a visit.


ABABOU: And he liked New York, he liked the music.

DUGGAN: You picked him up at the airport.

ABABOU: He liked -- you know --

BEN JAAFAR: And he's come to visit.

ABABOU: And he went, and he came back for good. So he stayed here since that time.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. I'm working a lot with him. First time he go to somewhere to play, I have a customer in Manhattan. He have nice city, some -- oh, no, NYU or something like that -- big school -- Manhattan. I take with me Samir first time to come with me in New York. I take him with me, and I take with me Latif. 37:00Together we have some interview. We play some music with people.

Is Samir, [he] love a lot of people to talk in Gnawa, to [inaudible] blah blah blah blah blah. Samir, he's go to South Carolina, [inaudible] he's come to New York. In New York, you have a lot of business, you have -- something like that. Samir has come to talk with me and Ahmed together. I have a next guy to play with me -- long time -- is -- Amino Belyamani. He worked with me together. And he from Casablanca. He live in Brooklyn on Church Avenue. He come to hang out a little bit. [He] go to take a license for to play in the subway --

ABABOU: Subway, yeah --

BEN JAAFAR: -- station. There's a lot of work and plays. Is free to make customer -- to make people -- or something like that.


DUGGAN: Did you play in the subway?

ABABOU: Yeah. The subway.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, [we] make some album -- to fix a some -- an album, nice album. Everybody hear of Gnawa, Innov Gnawa in New York. We have album, we have next album -- now is a lot of customer.

I helped Samir [with] a lot of something, because Samir, he no understand the experience of Gnawa. [He] have a lot of experience for everything -- and Gnawa, and people, and song -- lots, you know? Is maâlem experience -- not same experience in Gnawa. Experience for everything. Is maâlem first is experience for [inaudible] -- to hang out, to talk, and instrument -- to fix it the some time -- instrument. He no like to fix in. I mean, nervous. Is instrument --


ABABOU: He could can fix it -- and he can make it. He can -- you know. Yeah.


DUGGAN: Yeah. With a branch from a tree [laughter].

BEN JAAFAR: [I] fix it sometime, you take -- sometime, [I] take a lot of time. [I] take 25 minute to fix it. [I] fix it a little bit. [If] I no like a song, I'm to play and fix any time to touch --

ABABOU: With the strings, yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: [The] guembri [is the] same [as] body. Anytime you need shower, you need to clean, you need to [inaudible] -- I know -- it's my baby.

STRONG: [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: Sometimes [I] leave him three week, two week -- I no touch him. Sometime, he's come -- I see him seem nervous. "Why you no touching me?"

DUGGAN: [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: "You leave me alone."

ABABOU: No, tell her about some time when we moved something -- it was a long time, he hadn't touch his instrument. So we moved something over here.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. [It was like] (makes sound of guembri) --

ABABOU: He heard the sound like (makes sound of guembri), "Oh, he's calling me to play. He's calling me."


BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Yeah. Sometime, I do something that to guembri to -- (plays guembri) -- you hear something like that. To touch and stuff, to clean house, the guembri [makes a sound]. And [I know] a job is coming.

ABABOU: Oh, you know that there's something coming. Okay. [laughter]

DUGGAN: That's the early warning.

BEN JAAFAR: Same time to play guembri to, to fix it -- (plays guembri) -- same. Like that. (plays guembri) It's nice. Same time to touch here --

ABABOU: No. Yeah, you need to --

BEN JAAFAR: -- to [inaudible] come to down, you need to up, down, up, down -- there's lots of --

ABABOU: And this is traditional -- they don't have the key, you know, to tie it and --

DUGGAN: Like, the pegs at the top?

BEN JAAFAR: Same [as] guitar.

STRONG: Yes. Yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes, I know like in same [as] guitar. This one is guembri original. There's a lot of people -- you need to see instrument in -- [speaking Darija] --

ABABOU: Traditional.


BEN JAAFAR: Traditional. And this one --

ABABOU: First time, they made it like this --

DUGGAN: [inaudible]

BEN JAAFAR: This one you no have nothing.

ABABOU: Not like traditional [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Yeah.

STRONG: So to tune it, you have to re-wind the strings?


STRONG: To completely re-tie them.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. To fix it. I have -- some [of the stuff] is there -- everything, maybe. [If] maybe this one you broke.

STRONG: Right.

BEN JAAFAR: I have next -- is --

STRONG: Just hanging from the neck of your guembri.

BEN JAAFAR: Is the same type -- I no have it -- I take some on neck to fix it, and some papers like that -- to make it like that -- to make [inaudible]]. [speaking Darija]. It's work. I need to -- [speaking Darija] -- it needs knife.

DUGGAN: Knife.

ABABOU: He can do one like this just with a knife and a piece of wood. Yeah. You can make it.

DUGGAN: He did. I saw him [laughter].

ABABOU: Yeah, you told me.

BEN JAAFAR: This cord -- this cord -- is a lot of years. I'm -- first time in 42:00Morocco, I have a drum and guembri and cord to stop this one -- to [speaking Darija]. I'm working with people -- [speaking Darija], something like that.

DUGGAN: [inaudible].

ABABOU: We can play with only two strings.

BEN JAAFAR: Two. Yeah.

ABABOU: Sometime, one of them -- it, like, broke or something, so he continued playing music, because people was dancing, people was healing.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, yeah.

ABABOU: So he need to continue playing. So he --

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Yeah. Continue with two strings.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Two -- two strings.

STRONG: So in the middle of a lila you could just --

ABABOU: Yeah, he cannot stop it --

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, I have drummer maybe four week, maybe one month. And [I] play and show in Manhattan.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija]. I'm do show.


ABABOU: He said, like, two weeks ago, he was -- when the tuning was not tight -- tying the strings.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Yeah. Samir was saying, "Yeah, more, more, more." And then the string, it was, like, broken.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, time to start on show. These people are waiting on show, and you play something and you tell me --

ABABOU: Yeah, a bunch of people they are on the stage.

BEN JAAFAR: You know, I'm hear you. Guembri -- Samir told me --

ABABOU: Tighten more, more, more.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, you play with only two strings.


ABABOU: Oh my God.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].


ABABOU: You got [inaudible], I know [laughter].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: You have to do something. Yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija] a lot of people. You wait for me to -- to look. The guembri -- to look people, you play guembri. [speaking Darija] in Fez. [inaudible] --

ABABOU: She was from Fez? Okay.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. [inaudible] singer, and song. You have people is musician. There's a lot of people who wait for me to see -- and instrument, guembri. I [can] fix it. I just no have nothing to fix something like that --

ABABOU: Only the body [laughter].

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. To play -- I [inaudible] this guy to help me -- this guy to help me gave me 400 dollars and [inaudible] "Please, give your Maâlem this one."And Diane told me, "Maâlem, he's a guy -- to buy a car service to [go] far in hotel -- " he's go to play. Car service, you call next guy to come to pick me 45:00[up] in hotel, he give me 400 dollars. "Oh, guy, I'm sorry, I have to hang out with you, I need to --" blah blah [inaudible].

ABABOU: [You don't deserve it].

BEN JAAFAR: You know, he's loving music sometimes people, they love music -- "Maâlem is coming, I'm come with him -- to play with him." Maybe have 200 dollars. "I'll give you and band a little bit." Something like that. It's maybe 20 dollars in my pocket -- packet of cigarette, fine, I'm good. Job is coming --

ABABOU: [laughter] Yes. I was there sometime, he give us all the money. "Hassan what is this?" He talk, "It's okay. Everybody good. There are good guys here."

DUGGAN: That's [inaudible].

BEN JAAFAR: I love -- I love people to make them happy. I know these people is come to play with you. I need --

ABABOU: It's happened many times. [inaudible]

BEN JAAFAR: This money. Sixteen, maybe one hundred, to make them happy. "Take this one, please. I'm sorry. I don't have a lot of money." "Wait, Maâlem. No take with me. I'm wait. A little bit is come." You know? He's like that. It's life, music. Yeah. And nobody is -- is go to trip. And [inaudible], and go to Washington, DC. Diane is come with me. Everybody is same -- brothers. No band. 46:00There's brothers and band, too.

DUGGAN: Yeah. It's fun.

BEN JAAFAR: Everybody -- you eat, you laugh, and you talk. It's -- everybody's fine. And show -- is different, it's fun, you love something like that. I don't look nobody, no talk nobody. I need to show.

ABABOU: You're working. Yeah. That's it.

BEN JAAFAR: You do what you do in show, all right? I need to -- to play in show. Everybody will like it in show. Sometime American, sometime Jewish, sometime in Morocco. Every people give [us] some -- what do you need? I don't give [them], I'm what [they] need. No. I give people music -- what [they] like.

ABABOU: What they need. Yeah. What they want. Yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: To help people -- people -- these people -- there's a lot of people -- all -- no, like, (makes sound of percussion) qraqebs.

ABABOU: And he's good at this one, too. He [inaudible] --

BEN JAAFAR: You give him some slow song. Because people will like it. You take with the song just a little bit. I play [inaudible] jazz music a lot of years -- in Brooklyn. There's a [inaudible] we have in contact in Gnawa in Morocco, 47:00Tangier to hang out with [him]. A lot of, lot of years I not play with him. Anytime -- have show -- in New York and somewhere. He's come back to work with him together -- to help him -- to pay him good. [inaudible] we have a big band -- and jazz music -- to make an -- Gnawa music in Morocco. [inaudible] is a lot of story. I go to Morocco to hang out in Gnawa in Morocco. [He] marry his wife in Morocco. You'll love Morocco. You'll love Gnawa Morocco.

ABABOU: [inaudible]?


DUGGAN: He teaches at Medgar Evers, right? He's still at Medgar Evers?

BEN JAAFAR: He's my friend.

DUGGAN: So he's a Brooklyn institution, too.


DUGGAN: One of the things that drew me to Hassan is how attuned -- I mean, he can be obtuse -- but how attuned he is. And that's what Karim just said. So when he's playing, he's really feeling and observing and sensing the people who are there.


DUGGAN: And the music is for healing. It's for fun, too -- but especially a 48:00lila, it's for healing. And when he sees somebody really getting into it and needing something in that way, he's totally with them.

ABABOU: Yeah. That's right.

DUGGAN: Something you need to explore at some point -- I think is important to explore at some point -- is the whole idea of the Jewish influence in Morocco. With the rest of the Islamic world -- the way that I can see from the outside --

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, is mostly Jewish, too.

DUGGAN: Yeah. They're Moroccans. And it's part -- one of his friends said -- who's Berber -- said, "Scratch a Berber, you'll find a Jew." So the rest of the Islamic world, in my experience, doesn't talk about Jewish people in the same way -- as inclusively. And he has a whole repertoire of Jewish songs --


DUGGAN: -- that you play for Mimouna, which is the Jewish holiday that most people here don't know about that comes right after Passover.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. His song is Mimouna -- it's black [inaudble] to talk on song Gnawa -- Mimouna, Mimouna -- [speaking Darija]. Mimouna Africa. Mimouna blah 49:00blah blah. Something like that.

ABABOU: Mimouna [speaking Darija] -- black.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. Because Mimouna is black. [The] song is black. You need -- curtain and clothes is black.

ABABOU: You're wearing black when you're dancing a Mimouna.

DUGGAN: And scarf.

BEN JAAFAR: No. You have an incense -- it's black incense. For [speaking Darija] -- incense. And [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija]?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: They call it "[speaking Darija]." The black [speaking Darija]. Because [speaking Darija] -- it is, like, have a different smell -- every color. So on Mimouna, the blacks -- the black "[speaking Darija]." So every -- every song have a different color, a different incense.

STRONG: Yeah. So I didn't realize the smell matched the color of the music.

ABABOU: Yeah, they do in Gnawa music. And lila, they do this. They -- like, every -- every song have a different kind of incense.



STRONG: Tell me a little bit more about the colors -- just for the record -- for people who don't know that context.


ABABOU: Okay. I need Hassan to tell you that. He's have experience more than me.

STRONG: [laughter] Right.

ABABOU: There's [speaking Darija] --

DUGGAN: [inaudible] --

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Okay. They start with [speaking Darija], like Hassan tell you -- they call on God, the prophet, and other masters who passed away -- cities. Yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: Is this one is [speaking Darija] for -- for women.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija] -- this is the white. This is -- we call this a gum. A gum.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes, it's close -- it's close --

ABABOU: -- to this.

STRONG: So we're looking at a -- just for the recording --

DUGGAN: Is that frankincense?

STRONG: -- we're looking at a little plastic bag full of -- is this incense? What is this?

DUGGAN: Let me see.

ABABOU: Yeah, it's an incense [inaudible].

DUGGAN:[inaudible] frankincense, so that might be [inaudible].

ABABOU: Yes. [inaudible].

DUGGAN: That's the only one I can tell.

ABABOU: That's with the song, when they're wearing white, they do this.


BEN JAAFAR: This one is [speaking Darija]. It's for Mimouna.

DUGGAN: It's not a [inaudible] smell, no.

ABABOU: It's not like --

BEN JAAFAR: It's black incense.

ABABOU: That's the black.


STRONG: Oh, wow. It's impossible to describe.

ABABOU: It doesn't have a scent.

DUGGAN: Yeah. That doesn't [inaudible] --

ABABOU: This one doesn't have -- doesn't have smell.

STRONG: Oh, this one doesn't have a smell --


STRONG: -- the first one that we're looking at.


DUGGAN: He's got the rocks here.


ABABOU: That's the black one -- the one in black Mimouna -- the songs. They're wearing black -- like, a [inaudible] in black. And they do this -- like, [inaudible] incense. Yeah.

DUGGAN: I should tell you, Ahmed, who we spoke about -- who met him -- Ahmed sings beautifully, plays percussion. I saw a video of Ahmed's family. He was in -- well, that's another story, but -- Ahmed's family -- after dinner, everybody's sitting around -- mostly women, but Ahmed's there. They pull out the hand drums [laughter] and everybody sings. And this is what they do after dinner most evenings. So --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

DUGGAN: -- this is tapping into tradition.


BEN JAAFAR: This one? Black with black.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: This is black incense. (sound of lighter) Smell. See?

STRONG: Ah! It's so different when it's smoke.

DUGGAN: Now I smell it. [laughter]

STRONG: It's wonderful.

BEN JAAFAR: This one is black. The one is a white for [speaking Darija] --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija]. The blue.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

STRONG: This is blue?

ABABOU: [speaking Darija]. With the song -- the blue -- blue color -- is this.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija] is [speaking Darija] -- there's a lot of song to [speaking Darija] in this one. There's a lot of [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija]?


BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Okay. This is -- the blue -- the blue and the red.

STRONG: Oh, both use this one.

ABABOU: Yeah. The blue and the red.

DUGGAN: So [speaking Darija]?


STRONG: It looks like a stone. It's a completely different feeling, even, when you smell it.

DUGGAN: Yeah. [laughter]

ABABOU: In Morocco, people understand. You don't have to do it wrong. (sound of lighter) Yes.

BEN JAAFAR: Is that -- is this one -- is -- it's medicine for people. There's a lot of people, you come, you talk to me, "Maâlem, I need something to help me, please." Something like that. I talk to you, come to help you. I give you some baraka. It's got to help you first. I'm no help you -- I got to help me. I need to go to help you to help me, too. I'll give you some baraka. I'm giving some a little bit on this one -- I'm -- I tell him, go to house to take nice shower -- 54:00to clean -- to bring a little bit. I have some charcoal -- [speaking Darija]. You bring some charcoal -- small charcoal -- to bring a little bit and something --

ABABOU: To turn it and smell --

BEN JAAFAR: To smell something like that.

ABABOU: The incense. Yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: [He] wake up, it's much better. Okay, he call me, "Maâlem, what you give to me yesterday?". "I not give to you nothing. I give to you some baraka." "Maâlem, now I'm much better. You need something gift?" "I don't need nothing. I'm fine. You need something to give to me? Thank you so much. No problem." Yeah. For this one. I have mix -- something like that. And this one, to change. To make. [speaking Darija].

STRONG: It looks like seeds.

ABABOU: Yeah, it's seeds.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, seeds, yeah. I have a --

ABABOU: [inaudible] --

BEN JAAFAR: I have song -- [speaking Darija] --


ABABOU: Oh. There is some songs -- they need this and a little bit of this. The powder of this.

BEN JAAFAR: To mix. Yeah. To mix.

ABABOU: -- so you put them together, and it's -- it's a different smell. Not the same.

DUGGAN: [inaudible]

ABABOU: Some songs. Yeah.

STRONG: Some -- special songs.


DUGGAN: It's a multisensory experience, and he facilitates healing -- not by being a healer, but by channeling the energy and seeing what it is that the people need.

STRONG: And knowing what arrangement of smells and music --

DUGGAN: Seeing what they need and what are we gonna bring you -- what -- and it's organized as the colors -- the different energies.

STRONG: So Hassan, do you find that when you come to a space, you know what kind of smell, what kind of color, you want to play? Or do you decide when you get there?

BEN JAAFAR: No. It's experience in Morocco.

ABABOU: No. [speaking Darija].


BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: You're supposed to be like this everywhere you go. So -- sometimes he decide -- when he doesn't have too much time. And if he have time, he need to go one by one -- it's by order.

STRONG: Oh, there's an order to it.


ABABOU: Yes. [inaudible] --

STRONG: Oh, thank you.

DUGGAN: He started talking about Bambara.

ABABOU: Yeah. But sometime, when he doesn't have time -- like, he have only one or two hours -- you know, he decide what's -- we're gonna be a short of this, little bit of this, little bit of this -- when they have this. Because in Morocco, a lila may go for two days.



BEN JAAFAR: Is lila in Morocco -- is people to make lila -- to talk to maâlem first -- because maâlem may have a lot of experience -- to need to buy some sheep, to need to buy goat --

ABABOU: Goats, yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].


ABABOU: Who want to make the lila -- like, the women and men or family -- sometimes, they need a sheep or a goat or a cow. It's up to them. But it's supposed to be one of these -- like, a sheep or a goat or a cow.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Yeah. They cook the sheep. They cook the sheep and they cook for everybody -- one night.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija] --

DUGGAN: So there's some people who are not in the ceremony. They're cooking. Because if you're gonna sacrifice a sheep or the cow, then somebody's gotta cook that --


DUGGAN: -- so everybody can eat it.

ABABOU: Yes. Yeah. Exactly.

BEN JAAFAR: There's a lot of food. There's lila -- you need -- some big party. You know, there's lila, you need a lot of meat, a lot of bread, a lot of --


ABABOU: There's a lot of people. Everybody have to eat.

BEN JAAFAR: You know, there's people inside house, you eat, people is coming in [from] the outside --

DUGGAN: It's taking care of people.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: Yes, 'cause everyone -- everyone is first -- is color is white --

ABABOU: 'Cause it's Bambara.

BEN JAAFAR: And Bambara no have color.

ABABOU: No color. So they start with Bambara. Lila, it started with Bambara -- no color.

DUGGAN: To get the energy going.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija]

ABABOU: Kouyo. Yeah. Only the musician -- it's called kouyo -- you know what mean kouyo?

STRONG: The chorus?

ABABOU: Yes. So only the kouyo play Bambara -- start dancing, like auspicious dances with the music. With the sintir, they do the same thing. So after Bambara, there's no color.

BEN JAAFAR: After Bambara, there's people -- every people is white clothes.

ABABOU: White clothes. So the white -- after --

BEN JAAFAR: Your white clothes --

ABABOU: -- start with the white.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija]. It's white.

ABABOU: The white.

BEN JAAFAR: In Gnawa, I have a custom -- in Gnawa, maybe [inaudible], maybe some 59:00Gnawa and Syrian custom -- I have a lot of rug and -- for people to come to. And [inaudible] Gnawa, I have a lot of whites for people --

ABABOU: Yeah. They put clothes -- white clothes -- for people. So Gnawa have these clothes -- and scarf, and you put it --

BEN JAAFAR: Sometime --

ABABOU: -- on your head, because it's --

BEN JAAFAR: -- sometime -- sometime she -- girls is coming. I have a [inaudible] -- I no have some bands -- I know it's come to -- come to -- I know Gnawa -- to give you some -- but these people to listen to Gnawa, you're like [inaudible] --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija]?

BEN JAAFAR: No. You know? [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].


ABABOU: Okay. He want to say, like, maybe, sometimes, a woman or girls come in 60:00without know there is Gnawa music. So they come in to see the show, and they was wearing, like, a short thing [inaudible]. And she was -- when she go to dance and healing, so they cover her with the white -- when they play in white.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Yeah. You bring [speaking Darija] like this --

ABABOU: So they have to cover the girls, you know? [laughter] [speaking Darija]? After the whites?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: The black -- after the white is --

BEN JAAFAR: Mimouna.

ABABOU: -- the same thing. A different smell and -- yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: Mimouna, [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: There's too many sounds, and only one color. You understand? So the white -- [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Yeah. It's the minimum -- the white, it's one hour -- singing. The black --

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija] maybe we had one hour. [speaking Darija].


ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: Oh, yeah. Twenty-four hours for a lila. [speaking Darija].


BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: And the black, at least another hour, hour and a half music.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, okay. It's different between the cities. Some cities, they play a different -- like, when they play the black, they play other songs with the black. That's what he say. Okay, after the black?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: The blue.

BEN JAAFAR: Blue. [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: So the white, the black, the blue.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija] -- that's the black. We call "[speaking Darija]" -- like, the black -- the sea and the sky -- the blue. The blue. So the blue after the black. [speaking Darija]? (sound of tea being poured)


BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: The red. After the blue, the red -- red color songs.

BEN JAAFAR: You have cup?

STRONG: Oh. I have one, actually.

BEN JAAFAR: Okay. You're welcome.

STRONG: Was that Diane's?

DUGGAN: Oh, thank you.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija]. (sound of tea being poured)

ABABOU: Oh my God.

STRONG: Thank you.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: After the red is the green. [speaking Darija]?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, okay. It'll be the brown -- the dark brown.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Okay. So, after the red, it's dark brown. If you don't have -- you can do the black.


ABABOU: Again. Without the brown or the black, it's the same. You can [inaudible] --


BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, this one.


STRONG: Dark brown. Like a very fine [inaudible] very dark brown.

ABABOU: Yes. Yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. Yeah.

ABABOU: And you can do the black, too, if you don't have this color.

BEN JAAFAR: You mix some and [speaking Darija] is flowers -- to make some [speaking Darija] --

ABABOU: Like sfouf. Like sfouf. What do you call a little bit of sfouf?

DUGGAN: Oh, sfouf. Oh, God, sfouf.

ABABOU: But it's dry --

DUGGAN: Oh, it's dry?

ABABOU: Yeah. So, like, powder.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. Sfouf. Yeah.

DUGGAN: So he's mixing, like, a powder -- making a -- sfouf is all kinds of nuts and spices --

ABABOU: Sfouf. It's mixed with flowers.

BEN JAAFAR: [inaudible] --

DUGGAN: -- and a little bit of oil and flowers --

STRONG: It sounds like potpourri, almost.

DUGGAN: And it's the most -- energetic food you -- dense -- health food -- that they --

STRONG: That you eat?

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, you eat. Yeah, you eat.

DUGGAN: And there's a [inaudible] --

ABABOU: And there is a special food with -- [speaking Darija] -- every -- every color have a --

DUGGAN: -- a special food?

ABABOU: Yeah. A special food. Yeah. Sometime a sweet, sometime couscous, 64:00sometime --

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: The black, no. There's no food in the black.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Meat. Yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].


BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, fish. Fried fish.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Grilled or fried fish. [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija] -- which color is this?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija]. Fish. [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: The blue. The fish.

DUGGAN: Like this -- [laughter] --

STRONG: That makes sense.


BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: They grill -- you cook it all there?




BEN JAAFAR: You stop, and then [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Eggs. [speaking Darija] are eggs.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, okay.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

DUGGAN: Oh, and olives. Bread and olives --

ABABOU: Bread and black olives. [speaking Darija] --

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Olive oil and black olives --

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija] --

ABABOU: -- and bread and honey and [speaking Darija] --

DUGGAN: [speaking Darija]. So there is food for black.


DUGGAN: There is food for black.

ABABOU: There is food for black. Yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

DUGGAN: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Olive oil and honey and eggs. Yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].


ABABOU: Everybody eat a little bit when they sing [inaudible].

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. I have first an aâda on drum -- is people to bring some --

ABABOU: The first, you start with al aâda.


ABABOU: The first -- before everything, they start with al aâda. Al aâda, they play the drums and the castanets. It's a nice show and a big show. They come in from [speaking Darija] --

BEN JAAFAR: Yes, yeah.

ABABOU: They start outside --

BEN JAAFAR: He's come back on inside.

ABABOU: -- on the street, and they come in and [makes sound of percussion].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Yeah, I was there. We did it on downtown Water Street.


ABABOU: So we was playing in apartment Mohammed Marakeshi [phonetic]. So he was like, "Guys, please. I have a surprise for my friend's birthday. She's in the bar now. We can do al aâda [for] her." We was like, "Yeah, let's go. Let's do it." There was like eight or nine of us.

DUGGAN: [laughter] oh wow.

ABABOU: And we went into the colors. And outside Water Street. So everybody was 67:00looking at us, like, Where's these guys coming from? And when we was close to the bar, we started to play the drums and qraqebs.

DUGGAN: Oh, cool.

ABABOU: It sound like huge, you know? You know the [inaudible] sound like.

BEN JAAFAR: There's people up in the window. [overlapping dialogue] --

ABABOU: So did the bodyguards -- the bouncer and the bodyguards -- "Guys, where are you going?" We're like, "No, no. It's surprise. Inside [inaudible]." And we're like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah." Just said, "Let's go! Let's go!" All the bar and people from outside come into the bar and was -- we was doing al aâda. It was beau-- amazing.

DUGGAN: Oh, beautiful.

ABABOU: And the people at the bar was very happy. And we brought customers -- a lot of customers with us to the bar. So the owner was very happy. "Oh, guys, any time you want to come, you're welcome. [overlapping dialogue] eat." It was like, "No, no. That's it." We went back to the house. We was doing lila.

STRONG: Oh, that's beautiful.

ABABOU: Yes. Al aâda -- we start -- the lila, it started with al aâda --


DUGGAN: And that's the procession -- when they come in with the drums, and everybody comes in.


ABABOU: Yeah. We can show you a video when we finish.

STRONG: Sure. I want to ask -- you know, going back a little bit to 2000, 2005, when you were first living, I guess, in Red Hook, right?

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Yeah.

STRONG: You were staying in that house?


STRONG: What kind of spaces could you perform in? Were you performing in Latif's house in Red Hook --


STRONG: -- or were you performing in masjid? Where did you do this?

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. We play --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija]. Where did you perform?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Okay. He say, like, he was playing the parties of friends -- friends of friends -- when they have --

STRONG: Oh, in people's homes?


ABABOU: Yeah. And he play the bars -- restaurants.


BEN JAAFAR: I no have contact -- he's my friend -- he have contact in people -- [I was] working with him in the store. Everybody is come to love music, Gnawa. Sometime you have a job, you look for musician Moroccan. You go -- [inaudible] come with me a lot of times -- Ahmed -- there's a lot of people. Sometimes somebody called me --

ABABOU: Yeah, sometimes people call for -- they need the musicians, we need -- we go. Yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: Sometime, these people -- you need me to play in -- with myself. You bring guembri. Sometime, people you need to play qraqeb, to sing -- you have to play qraqeb with them. Next time, there's a lot of musician you need me to come to play --

ABABOU: Yeah. Musicians, too, would call him. Yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: -- on drums. Today, I go to smoke cigarette outside, [I] see, and next, a guy, he live in the building, he's there. He's a musician. He play 70:00guitar. It's flamenco music. He remember me a lot of years in New York. [He] see me outside. [He] talk to me. He's come with me yesterday. I'm wake up yesterday, I talk to Diane, I come to downstairs in building. [He] live in building one years and something like that, more. I'm going to see -- [he] have a studio in building. It's a nice studio in building downstairs. They have plays, they have what you need -- speakers, screen, chairs. I'm go to hang out with him last night. I have a show -- big show. [He] need to make music. And flamenco music and Morocco music and Egypt music, [he] make a lot of -- something -- [he] bring a lot of musician. Every day, you have [rehearsal] and band. [speaking Darija] --

ABABOU: They have to practice and --

BEN JAAFAR: Yes, practice.

ABABOU: -- from Egypt, from Spain, from Morocco --

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. [speaking Darija].


ABABOU: Oh, that happened yesterday?

DUGGAN: Yeah. He went -- Arturo booked the studio.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking in Darija].

ABABOU: Belly music. Belly dancing.


BEN JAAFAR: Belly dance. [speaking in Darija].

STRONG: They did both at the same time?

DUGGAN: Yes, all three of them.

ABABOU: Yeah. They did belly dance -- the lady was dancing, and he played sintir, other guy play guitar --


ABABOU: -- other guy play oud.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. We change --

ABABOU: You was there?

DUGGAN: No, I wasn't there, but he told me -- he told me before he went out. And the oud -- Arturo -- with him.

BEN JAAFAR: And guy -- he play oud -- he's a guy, he play oud. He change. He play flute. I play guembri, I'm change to play darbouka.


BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. He's big in the show and stage. [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, they ask him for -- if he can do a job with them.


BEN JAAFAR: But I have some [rehearsal] with him. He's happy. He's fine. [He] 72:00need to give me some [speaking Darija]. He live in building, you know? There's a lot of people you know -- one guy to live in building. This building, there's a lot of musician who live in building. Yesterday and see a lot of musician is coming to play. I'm very happy. I like it. I'm no have problem in music. I'm play in Indian, I play American, I play -- every people to need something. I'm not scared. I have experience to play.

DUGGAN: He collaborates a lot.

BEN JAAFAR: Sometime, to talk to him -- I no understand music. Show me what you play.


BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, he play. I think, what you need? To play --

DUGGAN: [inaudible].

BEN JAAFAR: He told me, I know I need you to play, and you could just sing it. Yes, I do. I'm [inaudible]. I have to sing. I don't have to [be] scare of something like that. I'm take a -- I have a -- first in Morocco, you take a lot 73:00of something -- experience -- and make more experience in New York City, and a lot of musician I hear --

ABABOU: Of course.

BEN JAAFAR: -- I know. Sometime, it's big band. I have two musicians in Gnawa. They come to play on stage. And people, "Wow, look at that instrument." People, two people -- you make everybody's happy. And guembri and qraqeb -- everybody -- people, even outside, is come to, "What is this?" And Moroccan people, "Wow, this music is nice." Everybody hear you -- qraqeb, something, sing, something like that. Wow! It's come -- every place in New York to play Gnawa there's a lot of customer is come in. A lot of contact, and people, "Where you play? You play in New York City? You live in New York?" Yes. There's a lot of people you think has come to -- to Morocco and show, is come back in Morocco. No, I live in New York. Well, "How you live in New York and you see this one like that?" Yeah. I have a -- and a lot of friend in New Jersey are musician -- to play with them a long time. And Queens. I have a lot of friend with me --


ABABOU: Yeah, this was between 2000 and 2005.

STRONG: Oh, back then?


STRONG: Okay. Thank you.

DUGGAN: Thank you, yeah.

ABABOU: So he was playing here -- he moved to New Jersey -- [speaking Darija]?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Like, he was two years in Jersey City. I think the building here -- that's what --

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. New Jersey is my friend -- to hang out with me from Marrakesh. [He] have a business. [He] have truck. Moving company. [He] need me to help him. [He] love Gnawa. I am come to hang out with him, to work with him in truck, to moving company in New York and some upstate. [He] have big house in New Jersey. His wife is a musician. And for American to play trumpet -- make his friend. He's nice. He love Gnawa, too. I have a big [inaudible] and for musician -- every musician. [He] have house. I have to hang out with him a lot of years.

ABABOU: In the same building?

BEN JAAFAR: Same building.

STRONG: This is in New Jersey?


ABABOU: Yeah. Jersey. A lot of musicians lived there.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Newark.

ABABOU: So every night they hang out and everybody bring his instrument. And it was [overlapping dialogue] --

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija] hang out -- it's flute, it's guitar, Gnawa, drum. There's a lot of musician.

ABABOU: A house.

DUGGAN: A house.

STRONG: That's beautiful.

DUGGAN: It's nice [overlapping dialogue] --

BEN JAAFAR: Sometime [he] make parties there. You know? He's a musician. You love Gnawa -- song to make. Now is Morocco is a lot of American to come to Morocco -- every years, [inaudible]. [There are] a lot of musician in New York. Everywhere. African. I have in some picture -- a lot of years in [inaudible].

DUGGAN: Yeah. The festival.

STRONG: Oh, that's right. You showed me.


BEN JAAFAR: In [inaudible].

ABABOU: Ninety-nine -- that -- I think that was the first year.

DUGGAN: The first year?

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Yeah.

ABABOU: Yeah. Ninety-nine.

DUGGAN: That's from [inaudible]. Yeah. She gave it to us.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. In Morocco now we have to -- to receive [inaudible] in Morocco. I need more [inaudible] Morocco, because there's a lot of people is come to Morocco to love music. And now it's a --


ABABOU: And Moroccan loves [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija]. It's a lot of years. One festival I have before. And one festival in Asilah. You stop in [inaudible] and Asilah to open a festival in Essaouira. I don't like to do that. You live in Asilah [inaudible] --

ABABOU: And go another one in [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: -- you make another one in Asilah. There's people in Asilah -- there's a lot of people to hang out on at festival. Like, people you see festival, Gnawa to come somewhere festival in Asilah. You stop in Asilah, you open Essaouira. I have --

ABABOU: Asilah -- it's a beautiful small city. Beautiful. Very beautiful. By the ocean is quite --

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Ah, yeah. It was a Portugal --

BEN JAAFAR: Portuguese --

ABABOU: -- colony before. A long time ago.

BEN JAAFAR: Essaouira -- city -- yeah --

DUGGAN: Down south?

ABABOU: No, the north. Next to Tangier.

DUGGAN: Next to Tangier? Wow.

BEN JAAFAR: Now we have a lot of people to talk and Gnawa, I don't give him to 77:00place to come to hang out with him in Essaouira. You need one maâlem, two maâlem, three maâlem, four maâlem, that's it. There's a lot of -- many maâlem in Morocco. Everywhere stage for Gnawa music. No. You take time. And festival, there's a lot of people to -- there's a lot of money, a lot of trip, a lot of fly, a lot of something to come to listen to Gnawa. Listen to Gnawa, minimum three hours. It's finished -- everything -- Gnawa is finished.

DUGGAN: Three hours?

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Same. Same day. Same years. Every day. [It] no have change.

ABABOU: Yeah. Same masters. Same -- yeah. Don't want to change --

BEN JAAFAR: There's people to come to stage. And Gnawa no like stage. 'Cause Gnawa, I like to stage -- I have experience to work on stage. Because it's stage -- I have a [microphone] -- I have a lot of wind -- it's song -- no come song and people.

ABABOU: [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: The song is come to -- too windy. I mean, listen to song on video, 78:00and Gnawa Essaouira, it's [makes sound of wind in micrphone] -- like that. No people to hear your music. Because it's windy in [microphone]. And windy. It's -- a lot of [inaudible]. And qraqeb, too. It's no like show either. Is Gnawa, you like -- same place -- it's something like that. It's big house. You charge people what you need. Is Gnawa is you have customer to love Gnawa -- to give [you] 100 dollars and ticket to buy -- to come to see Gnawa. Is maâlem to stay on floor, to play guembri -- and people --

ABABOU: Quiet [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija]. To stay on floor. To listen to song. No have speakers, no have nothing -- is Gnawa to play is nice -- to hear him on the outside.


BEN JAAFAR: And instrument -- in Morocco no have nice instrument for sound check, and Gnawa is something like that. Sometime -- people understand sometimes 79:00-- you give him [sound] jack, [he] do what [he] do. [If he] no have experience, no, we help him. Same, in New York. There's people is come with me to help me. Like, what kind of thing -- and sound, "What kind of sound check you need?" It helped me a lot. I'm fine. I like it. You know? I like -- New York is like that. Is -- Morocco is like that? Morocco has come more up. Everybody understand.

DUGGAN: The technology.

BEN JAAFAR: The technology -- [they] no have the technology in Morocco. Technology and -- in Europe and New York and France and something like that. Now, you have a little bit --

ABABOU: Yeah, [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: -- in European and American to come to hang out in Gnawa in Morocco -- to help him -- to give maâlem -- and small speaker, [sound jack] -- and maâlem, this one, he help you. Okay. Maâlem, I no see do that a lot of years you play -- you see my fingers is a lot of broke -- it's a lot of [makes sound of strumming], a lot of work.

ABABOU: [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: No. No. He's a -- he's a -- he's musician, he's nice people. And 80:00American and [inaudible] is come to hang out with maâlem and give you, "Maâlem, take this one." To show maâlem what [he's] doing. "This one, you have to mix and to fix in guembri -- to mix on speakers, small speakers. "[You] have speakers?" "No." "I'm buy one for you." These people go to hang out to see speaker to buy. You give maâlem. You need maâlem to -- to work to listen -- no, it sound work. No hard sound. There's a lot of people to work. There's my father. There's my father three years -- [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Yeah. He passed away --

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija] --

ABABOU: His father passed away at 60 -- 65 years old. He say that he's too young. He was young but he was very tired, because he doing this job. He [overlapping dialogue] --

STRONG: He works very hard.

ABABOU: Hard, yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: [He] have to go. [He] have a trip. [He] go [to] Fez, and Marrakesh. [He] bus, [he] stay. And I'm go with him.


ABABOU: But the trip from Fez to Marrakesh, it's [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Like, eight to nine hours -- from Fez to Marrakesh.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Yeah. He was watch -- watch after --

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: -- 20 to 30, 40 musicians. So he was, like, always have to take care of them, have to watch after them.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Yeah. He's saying, like, sometime, when they lost something, nobody care, but he was care -- he need to bring instrument, he need to -- the guembri -- if something happened, so he was the responsible for this. So he need to go back, bring something -- if they forgot the instrument or something.


DUGGAN: That's why [inaudible] is so [overlapping dialogue]--

ABABOU: Yeah. So it was very hard job for him.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, my God. He say one day --

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: One day they have lila thing --

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: At Meknes -- it's not too far from Fez -- like, the next city.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: It's a long time. And there is not too many instrument -- after days. So somebody forgot that their guembri outside. So it was a rainy day.

DUGGAN: Oh, no.

ABABOU: And it's become wet. You know, it's skin and everything. You can't play with the wet instrument. It's very wet --

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: So who was going to give you the sintir? At that time, there is only some masters have sintir. And the guy who have sintir, he cannot give you his sintir. No way.

DUGGAN: You're not supposed to touch the maâlem's --

ABABOU: So we have a lila. Everybody waiting -- out around the house. And there 83:00are people waiting for the lila, but there is no guembri. [speaking Darija]?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: So he went to a guy. He know a guy in Meknes.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: And that guy, he was respect his father, Maâlem Ben Jaafar. He was like, "I need the instrument." And the other guy was, "Listen, I don't give the instrument to nobody, but I give it to you. Take care of it." [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: So he got the sintir and they do the lila. It's a lot of things happened like this -- to his father, Ben Jaafar. So it was very hard for him to --

BEN JAAFAR: Same time -- same time as go -- I have ceremony at 9:30, maybe 10:00, 11:00. You need to come to ceremony, lila. [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].


ABABOU: He had a lot of problems happened with customers.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [laughter] Oh my God. He was saying what problems happened. Sometime, his father, he got two jobs -- from 2:00 or from 4:00 to 10:00, and the other job from 11:00 to 4:00, to 6:00, to 8:00 --

BEN JAAFAR: Morning.

ABABOU: -- p.m. So the first job, they like the music. So at 10:00 at night, they was like, "No. Nobody go. You gotta stay here." And, Maâlem, he was like, "No. I have another job. I confirm with the other people, I gotta start at 85:0011:00, and I deal with you until 10:00, and it's 9:30. I tell no." So, they're taking the instrument -- this instrument's gonna stay here, and you guys gonna stay here.

STRONG: Oh my God.

ABABOU: So they have another job at 11:00. So a lot of problems happened. That's what he was saying now.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, it's my father. Yeah. Yeah.

STRONG: Do you find working in the US is gentler -- not just because of the technology, but because of the support of the people?

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. He say I -- sometime I have a problem -- like, a long time, and maybe it's 20 to 21 years, me --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija] -- I'm sorry -- [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: Yes, yes. Yes.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija] --

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Yeah, he say people support him and, you know, they like the music --

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. Yeah. Yeah.

ABABOU: -- no problem here [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. They give me a lot of times, a lot of hard work.


ABABOU: And the technology, too.


ABABOU: It helps.

DUGGAN: You know what I see about New York that's different --

ABABOU: But people supporting him.

DUGGAN: Like, in Morocco, you went and you stayed with Maâlem Sam --


DUGGAN: -- you know, and learned, like, all the regional variations. He learned, like, the whole repertoire -- the whole thing -- in Morocco. Then you came here, and there aren't that many people who know it. So what you've done here -- a lot of collaboration -- the Brooklyn Gypsies, the Balkan Beat Box. So there's all these -- Bonobo with the electronic --

ABABOU: With Randi --

HA: Randi, yeah.

DUGGAN: And they love the voice. And there's a compelling -- it's so compelling. It, like, grabs you -- Gnawa music. And so he's doing a lot of things with other types of music -- creating new things. Yeah.

STRONG: So you get to be a crossroads, rather than traveling everywhere, people are coming to you -- like, working --

DUGGAN: Rather than going deep in Gnawa -- he's already deep. Now he's bringing that depth into other musics.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. You people, you hear me, you see me on video 87:00and something like that, call you, "Maâlem, I like to see you." "Yes, you are coming out next week." And job in Brooklyn and Manhattan come -- he's come, is people, wow. He's contact with me, give me some business card. "Please, I need you." "Yes, anytime. I'm open." He's come to hang out with me, I need to teach me on guembri. I teach people. Sometime, there's people come to help me and give [them] time -- one hour to hour, maybe pay 115 dollars for teaching them guembri, something like that. There's people who need me to work on band. Sometime -- first time I need to play on band on New York, I go to Manhattan --

ABABOU: [inaudible]?

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. And you see --

ABABOU: The first -- yeah. Tell her the the story [inaudible].

BEN JAAFAR: You see --

DUGGAN: I don't know this one.

ABABOU: Yes you do [laughter].

BEN JAAFAR: You see fliers on the subway. And you take a number and fliers with me. I'm live in Brooklyn. I'm sometime --


ABABOU: And the flier was looking for musicians. "Here's the number," so he took one.


ABABOU: Like, looking for room -- yeah, one bedroom apartment or something like that --

BEN JAAFAR: Something like that. A ticket and the number and phone -- band. Somebody told me, "He's band. He like a musician. He's come. Everywhere. I have a studio in Brooklyn." "Okay. I need [inaudible]." I take in my pocket. Next time I have no nothing, I'm sit down, I'm relaxes my [inaudible]. I touch my jacket [pocket]. I see address. I call guy. I talk a little bit in English, because this guy is from Jewish. [He] speak Arabic.

ABABOU: Yemenese.


ABABOU: From Yemen. --

BEN JAAFAR: "Yes, hello." "Where from?" "I'm from Morocco." "He's a musician?" "Yes, a musician. And to play guembri and Moro--" "Oh, yeah, Gnawa. Yes, come." I no remember. "I come to -- I need to see you guys. I remember to come." "Listen. Go outside, take taxi" --

ABABOU: Take taxi.


BEN JAAFAR: -- "and call me."

ABABOU: Let me talk to him. [laughter]

DUGGAN: In the taxi?

ABABOU: Yes. [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: I take guembri with me, I'll go to somewhere. Williamsburg, something like this. Too far a little bit from my house. I take with me guembri. I'm call guys on phone. I give [him to the] taxi [driver]. Taxi's talking. "Yes, yes. I guy with me. I'm fine. I go take him. What kind of place?" "It's a studio blah blah blah blah? Okay." I'm come to studio, he's come to pay taxi. He take me upstairs. It's nice studio -- you have food, you have drink, you have smoke, it's fun people. I sit down, we play. I'm look for him. I'm talking. We play music together. I'm play with him. Your guy told me, "You need to come to sing -- a song?" "I -- yes, I do." I'm [inaudible]. He's nice. I'm come to -- to sing. Nice song. [He] like it. He tell me, "Open instrument to show me or something like that." I open my guembri to play a little bit and song. He like it.


ABABOU: This guembri. This one.

DUGGAN: This is the original? Original? [laughter]


BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Yeah. [I] play with him and [inaudible]. [He] like it. I have to rehearse maybe two days -- two times I rehearse with him --

ABABOU: Two times?

BEN JAAFAR: -- a rehearsal with him.

ABABOU: The practice, yes.

BEN JAAFAR: I have a big show in Manhattan. It was nice place, there's people to buy tickets for 45 dollars.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija]?

DUGGAN: Oh, where was it?

BEN JAAFAR: Manhattan.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: No. [speaking Darija]. Joe's Pub.

DUGGAN: Joe's Pub?


DUGGAN: Oh, okay.

BEN JAAFAR: They is have --

DUGGAN: They just played it again.

BEN JAAFAR: -- a lot of people is there, something like that. I'm coming, [they] say I no have experience [inaudible]. I know. I have experience. I'm no scare. He's come with him. I have his guy to play. And darbouka. He's band -- everybody. Every guy to play. And guitar. Blah blah blah blah. I come to play -- with him and guembri -- to play my song, and qraqeb, to sing. These people, 91:00[they] love me a lot.

DUGGAN: Brooklyn is full of these industrial spaces --


DUGGAN: -- that have been converted, and this underground music scene. And he's just so firmly a part of that scene -- doing his thing and collaborating. But some of the studios we go to are, like, Wow, that's a studio over there? [laughter]

ABABOU: We've been in a lot of studios with Hassan.

DUGGAN: Yeah. People's houses.

ABABOU: A lot.


STRONG: That's so interesting -- just, how you discover these places.


DUGGAN: Yeah. It's very random.

STRONG: That it can just happen. I'd like to hear more stories about your memories from Brooklyn -- either, you know, people, venues -- what do you remember about Brooklyn? What's another good story?

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: Yes, it's Brooklyn.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: It's Brooklyn --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: -- there's a lot of friend to hang out on Atlantic Avenue -- to go 92:00-- and mosque. Before a mosque, these people is come in Brooklyn. I no have place to sleep, he's come in mosque to sleep. No problem. These people to help people. No?

STRONG: This is when you first arrived, in 2000?

DUGGAN: Right. And that's not -- that's -- life, not music --

ABABOU: No, he was talking about Atlantic Avenue --

STRONG: No, that's great. Tell me that. I would love to hear that story.

DUGGAN: He stayed there.

ABABOU: People came to --

STRONG: This was -- this was Farooq you're telling me about?

BEN JAAFAR: Masjid Farooq, yes. Masjid Farooq, there's a lot of Moroccan people.

ABABOU: Not only Moroccan --

BEN JAAFAR: There's an Egyptian, there's Algerian, there's a lot of Muslim people -- communities -- come to hang out on Atlantic Avenue. I have time to go to Masjid to pray -- to prayer, to talk on book, and Qur'an, and something like that. I have time. Nobody] go to some --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. You have nice food, you have place to sleep, you have kids come to learn Arabic. Yeah. There's a lot of community in Arabic -- and community in 93:00Atlantic in Brooklyn is come to Masjid Farooq. And Yemen and Arabic and Algerian. There's a lot of, lot of people. To connect in Masjid. Yeah. It's -- I love in Brooklyn. Everywhere, you have nice food, nice meat. A lot of stuff is good. Yeah.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: Brooklyn, sometime I come -- clean. There's a lot of -- something is clean, it's [inaudible], there's people, telling me, "Wow, I see gangster" or something like that.

ABABOU: [laughter] Before he was looking like Snoop Dogg, with the long hair --

DUGGAN: [laughter] HE told me he had dreads.

ABABOU: -- and the big jacket--

STRONG: When you arrived, you had [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Yeah. There's people, no remember me in Arabic, in Moroccan.


DUGGAN: [overlapping dialogue] -- from Morocco.

ABABOU: No, here. [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: I think something -- is Spanish, is African, is something like that. I no looking Moroccan. It's different jacket. It's [inaudible] New York City and -- you know?

DUGGAN: You went native. [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: There's people who tell me, "Where you from?" "I'm from Morocco. Arabic." "No, no, no. You looking gangster." Yeah, it's not like -- is Morocco, is good people, is Gnawa music is come everywhere to clean. Is my father -- to working in Gnawa -- is a lot of years. And tuxedo in Gnawa. Yeah. Is nice.

DUGGAN: How did you meet the Brooklyn Gypsies?


DUGGAN: How did you meet the Brooklyn Gypsies?

BEN JAAFAR: The Brooklyn Gypsies, you hang out with them in New York City. Have a couple show. Sometime --

ABABOU: [inaudible].

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Sometime -- and I see them first time to play. And play some -- in Brook-- in New York -- Manhattan. I [was in] contact with him, he contact in Innov Gnawa -- to play somewhere together, you know? He's nice musician. He's 95:00-- he's love Gnawa. [We] make together to play. [We] play. And people is big. And show in park -- in Brooklyn -- park.

DUGGAN: Ah ha -- on Brooklyn --

STRONG: The Prospect Park?


BEN JAAFAR: Prospect Park. Yes. I played --

DUGGAN: Yeah, they did a --

ABABOU: The music -- the drummer [speaking Darija]

BEN JAAFAR: Oh, yes. I'm hang out in a lot of people --

ABABOU: Long time, yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: -- is -- an African, Jamaican --

ABABOU: Prospect Park. Columbian [inaudible] --

BEN JAAFAR: -- American, you need to play drum -- there's a lot of drum. Every Sunday. Is coming --

ABABOU: Every Sunday people bring their instruments [inaudible] --

BEN JAAFAR: On Church Avenue big park to play and bring a -- well, a big drum --

ABABOU: Drums.

BEN JAAFAR: He like drum to play with him.

STRONG: Every Sunday?


STRONG: Oh, wow.

ABABOU: Every Sunday in Prospect Park, people --

DUGGAN: Which part of Prospect Park?

ABABOU: [speaking Darija]?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija] Church Avenue.

DUGGAN: Church Avenue?

BEN JAAFAR: This place Church Avenue.

DUGGAN: 'Cause the Haitians have their part, and [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: Yes, yes. [overlapping dialogue]--


STRONG: So again, the crossroads. People come to this park --

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. This park.

ABABOU: Yes. From other countries, from different countries.

BEN JAAFAR: This park, every -- on weekends, they have some music. People is coming to play drums, to play guitar, or to play a lot of -- sometime, you have big festival and plays in Brooklyn. Every years, they have festival in Brooklyn. Everywhere. Trinidad, American, African. There's a lot of festival in Brooklyn. There's a lot of -- many people to love --

DUGGAN: I remember the party you did --

BEN JAAFAR: -- Gnawa song.

DUGGAN: -- in Prospect Park. A family came.

ABABOU: Oh my God. Yes.

DUGGAN: And they gave a birthday party --

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Birthday party. Yeah.

DUGGAN: -- on the little, you know, rolling slope [overlapping dialogue] --

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. There's people who make a party and --

ABABOU: In the park.

DUGGAN: In the park.

BEN JAAFAR: -- and show -- in park. Is Gnawa band is coming, to children, you have food --

DUGGAN: They [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: -- you have to drink, you have families -- to play band.

ABABOU: [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: Everybody's go, "Wow!" You have a lot of drum and qraqebs.

STRONG: That's wonderful.

BEN JAAFAR: Everybody -- you see something --


ABABOU: [inaudible]. [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: What kind of musician? What kind of music? Ah, Morocco! Yeah.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija]?

BEN JAAFAR: Atlantic.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Bushwick.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].


BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: He been living in too many -- too many places in Brooklyn. So maybe seven times he was moving from [overlapping dialogue]--

DUGGAN: Oh, I saw two of them on [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, I'm working. I'm go to -- sometime, is three days and job. I'm go somewhere, I come back. I see people, [they] scared and [they] see door to open, is come to change the lock, to close -- it's my clothes --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: Bushwick.

ABABOU: After Bushwick, [speaking Darija]?

BEN JAAFAR: Atlantic.

ABABOU: Atlantic Avenue.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Yeah.

ABABOU: So you moved to Atlantic, Bushwick --

STRONG: So Atlantic, Bushwick, Atlantic.


BEN JAAFAR: Atlantic, Bushwick, and Red Hook.


STRONG: And Red Hook.

DUGGAN: Red Hook.

STRONG: Red Hook after --

ABABOU: From Red Hook to --

BEN JAAFAR: And Bronx.

ABABOU: Bronx.

DUGGAN: Bronx.

ABABOU: Oh, yeah. Bronx. From Bronx to --

BEN JAAFAR: Nostrand.

ABABOU: Nostrand.


ABABOU: Back to Brooklyn.


ABABOU: And from Nostrand?


ABABOU: To Bronx -- Latif's house. And from Bronx?

BEN JAAFAR: And Bronx.

DUGGAN: And Bronx again.

ABABOU: Okay, you moved -- yeah, because they moved twice in Bronx with them.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. Bronx. Yeah.

ABABOU: And then?

BEN JAAFAR: And then, Atlantic.

ABABOU: Atlantic again?


ABABOU: [Inaudible] on the end of Forty-Ninth Street.


ABABOU: On Forty-Ninth Street, Sunset Park.


ABABOU: And from Sunset Park to Bronx -- Latif's house. And then to Bay Ridge with me --



ABABOU: Eighty-Fifth Street.


ABABOU: And from Eighty-Fifth Street to Bensonhurst with me -- where I live now. And from there, to Fifty-Third Street, Brooklyn -- Naseem's house.


DUGGAN: Oh, Fifty-Third Street.


ABABOU: He was his roommate. And then to here.


DUGGAN: That's not Bay Ridge?

ABABOU: That's Sunset Park.

DUGGAN: Oh, Sunset Park.

STRONG: Just above Bay Ridge.

ABABOU: Yeah. He's been to too many places in Brooklyn.

STRONG: You've been everywhere.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, now we have --

ABABOU: That's why when he went to Brooklyn --

BEN JAAFAR: -- we have a place in Brooklyn, in Bay Ridge--

ABABOU: -- he go everywhere in Brooklyn.

BEN JAAFAR: -- and something --

DUGGAN: Also we walk -- [inaudible] everything.

BEN JAAFAR: -- friend is come with me upstairs. You need Gnawa to play with me or something like that -- you have a place to take care of him. You sleep, you -- you know? I have anytime a place, 'cause I stay [with] Diane -- a lot of years we're together. [I] love her lots. Yeah.

DUGGAN: [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: I have a place, and sometime you need to -- to relax a little bit, because it's Diane no like me to go to somewhere to sleep, you know? Anytime saw me come back in the house, you know?

DUGGAN: [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: The smaller house -- for -- little bit -- to rehearse -- is myself. I need something to instrument -- to bring some for me, you know? Now is thanks God for everything. Yeah. Thanks God. Inshallah to make a lot of more people to 100:00hang out in Gnawa. I have a newest project is coming -- and rumba music -- to make and Gnawa -- in New York. Nobody to -- to play like that. I make inshallah --

DUGGAN: He's a master of rumba.

BEN JAAFAR: Is rumba -- is a lot of years -- same Gnawa. I have a lot of story on the rumba. And you need to make a rumba and Gnawa -- to big show in New York City. Yes. It's rumba -- I have -- everywhere I have people to play rumba. One guy to master rumba, now [he] hang out with me. Yeah. I need to --

ABABOU: He's a big master.

DUGGAN: He's a master. Yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: I need to -- to hang out -- to make him -- he's people -- you need to star in show. I no make to show quick. I need to relax a little bit, I do something in music, and belly dancing -- and Gnawa belly dancing, too. You have 101:00a rumba, there's nice people to dance. You know, and Gnawa, too, to dance, it's something that's -- practice. It's not the same rumba, because it's together on stage. You stage show and Gnawa to dance, to -- to something -- you see a rumba to dance, to -- to do something. Or you play on -- to rehearse in Williamsburg and see what we get. [inaudible] come with me. His friend. He from New York to play bass -- David -- to come to help me -- to play. I need David to play with me on bass -- and guembri -- and people to play. And I have some instrument on rumba --

ABABOU: Drums.

BEN JAAFAR: -- to sing nice Spanish -- something like that. It's nice song. She is good, is beautiful to a nice song.

DUGGAN: Eloise -- my friend Eloise.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. I need -- there's nice people, I need them, too. To help him. Or he got to help me to help him, too -- help together everybody, you know? I need to -- to help guys. Yeah. He's a nice guy. [He] no talk English. Because he 102:00talk -- he has people to help him for language. First time [I] come, I'm like that in New York, because I no have language. I'm come [from] Morocco, I have two language -- and Arabic and a little bit in French. I'm stay and it's 20 years in New York. And French is -- a little bit in not French -- in English.

ABABOU: [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: Everybody like English -- to talk English. I'm sometime no like to talk in show and something -- I -- I remember -- I need to talk, because I have you guys to help me for language. And Ahmed, sometime Karim, sometime Said. Everybody to help me to talk in [inaudible] and Gnawa -- what you talk, what kind of song, what kind of color, what kind of --

ABABOU: Yeah. Every time they perform, people ask for, where he from, where he sing, from where, what they sing --

DUGGAN: And people need to be educated.


DUGGAN: They want to be educated. They want to know.


BEN JAAFAR: Sometime is very happy [inaudible]. Hi, ladies and gentlemen, this 103:00is Gnawa music. It's from Morocco. This is Karim, this is Ahmed, this is Said, this is blah-blah. Is Gnawa the original of Morocco. It's from New York City. That's it. Everybody understand. [inaudible]. Listen, guys. Listen to me. You can shut up, please.

ABABOU: Oh my God. [laughter] He was there, no?

DUGGAN: [inaudible]?

ABABOU: At Barbes?

DUGGAN: In Barbes?

ABABOU: Yeah. So he was singing, singing, singing, and -- Hassan -- Hassan, when he sing, like, everybody would like, "Oh, listen" --

DUGGAN: Oh, he's so soulful.


DUGGAN: Oh my God.

ABABOU: So when he finish the song, he would start, like, [sings] --


ABABOU: -- so people have to be quiet and listen. So the people was talking, talking. We were, "Listen. Shut up. Listen, please."

BEN JAAFAR: [laughter] It's make a funny --

ABABOU: Yeah, everybody was like, "Yeah, yeah, shut up! Yeah, go ahead!" [laughter] Oh my God.

BEN JAAFAR: [laughter] I know I -- I like to make people is happy --


BEN JAAFAR: -- to talk [inaudible]. And I think sometimes is parlez français 104:00and -- "Mesdames et Messieurs, bon jour! Bon soir! Une groupe au Gnawa Maroc."

ABABOU: Maroc. [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: You know? Sometime I have people to help me language. I need to help myself to instrument to think and a lot of sing. What are you doing? I know, sometime, he's go when band is there -- he's -- two, three guys is there. Two, three guys is there. Sometime, I'm move, and he's there. I get to see everybody -- what you're doing. I needs people to change the light, I have to talk to him, because I -- I know [inaudible] stop. I [inaudible] -- you stop, you [inaudible] people to understand -- like, fast is come fast -- [makes percussion sound]. These people don't have power to come -- same. You know? You have to power -- and you teach them more, no? Is [inaudible] is Said. There's people who is come like that [drums on table]. Next, people is come [drums on table]. You make show to -- you know?


DUGGAN: Tighten up.

BEN JAAFAR: Please. You leave this one [drums on table].

ABABOU: So always you need to --

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. Next guy, you come, you follow him [drums on table]. You need to come, because I no have power.

DUGGAN: This is the teacher and coach. Yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: [drums on table] You know? Is qraqeb, same people to driver, right? Of car. It's car is coming to take on keys, to contact you, wait a little bit. It's car to come heat up. You move. Same qraqeb. It's qraqeb's going -- [makes sound of percussion] --

DUGGAN: To warm up.

BEN JAAFAR: Next [makes sound of percussion] -- next [makes sound of percussion]. I know it's -- you work in -- in[hand to work. And no bring -- 'cause people understand --

ABABOU: [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: -- is people, you take qraqeb with you, you [inaudible] qraqeb to work. Guys! Qraqeb no working. It's open fingers. To qraqeb, too. You know?

[Interview interruption]

STRONG: The recording is back on now. Just to start, you were saying, you remembered the blackout in 2002 --



STRONG: -- and you were playing in Brooklyn.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes and hang out --

STRONG: Tell me that story.

BEN JAAFAR: There's a light, it stop -- I don't know, [there's] Moroccan people to come to hang out on Atlantic and library on floor -- to sit down. There's a lot of people. And flashlight. It scare. Is no have train, you no have -- there's a lot of people to need -- to go home. There's three days I no have light. I have -- go to somewhere to play and people. To come back, I'm see people to stay in library -- Atlantic Avenue and bring guembri with me -- this one. Is guy, "Oh, please, please, you play song" --

ABABOU: "Just play something." [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: -- "song, Mimouna.'" Da da da. Okay, I'm open guembri. We have some in back -- we have some qraqebs people with me and Hamid. He play with me on qraqeb. Is a lot of [inaudible] who need to play and clap [claps]. There's people who hear you music, is light. And have light or flashlight. These people 107:00-- "Wow, this music." "Hey, what kind of music?" Is everybody remember Moroccan people and community to talk -- [claps and makes sound of cheering] -- everybody remember Moroccan people. To play music is there -- everybody is finish. I have my friend with me to live -- next neighborhood -- Atlantic Avenue -- in building. I'm live in a room [on] Atlantic Avenue. Next guy, live in Church Avenue. Next guy, [he] live in, like, a [speaking Darija] --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija]?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija]?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, [phonetic]Nabil [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: Nabil [inaudible]. I have guy from Morocco. He have dialysis. He sick.

ABABOU: Yeah. He passed away, like, two years ago.

BEN JAAFAR: He's come some time to hang out with me, he's there. This guy is 108:00have a lot of experience, [he] like music, [he] like to design -- and [speaking Darija] --


BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. There's a lot of people have a lot of experience in Morocco -- to come in New York, to like New York.

ABABOU: He paint his. He's good.

BEN JAAFAR: He's die [inaudible] -- from dialysis.

ABABOU: He passed away. He was very sick. He had kidney disease.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Yeah. There's a lot of, lot of people is -- is moving in Brooklyn. Brooklyn now, maybe you see -- I go maybe one week -- [speaking Darija] --

ABABOU: Last week.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: It was, like, last week, he met somebody who was asking for Moroccan guys who was here --

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. He look for people --

ABABOU: -- and he was, like, "I'm Moroccan." [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. [speaking Darija].


ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: He was like, "I don't see no Moroccan people hang out here like before." He was like -- Hassan told him that everybody is go on his way in life. People get married, have children. You know, life is change. It's not like before. People is busy now.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. He's --

ABABOU: So he was like, "Yeah, I remember, back in the days, it was a lot of Moroccan people here. The food" -- you know, every -- you know, it's like Moroccan area.

STRONG: Yeah. And before we turned on the recorder, you were both telling me about how people would gather in front of the library on the street.


ABABOU: Yeah, when -- it was a blackout -- [speaking Darija]. It was at night time, no light, and we was happy -- singing -- and he played. And his music -- like, it's amazing. Yes.

BEN JAAFAR: Is guembri is slow.

ABABOU: 'Cause it was very scare. And they was coming and seeing -- and join the music.


BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. There's people who work and they stop. "Oh, what kind of music? What kind of instrument?" There's people to stay and see the instrument is different -- "Wow, what kind of music? In Morocco, what kind of music?" There's a lot of people to talk question for instrument. You play, it's very -- people is --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. There's a lot of people who's coming to hang out. Yeah.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: It was dark.

BEN JAAFAR: People has flashlight.


BEN JAAFAR: A lot of people, flashlight.

STRONG: Out on the street? They were bringing their flashlights?

ABABOU: On -- yes. Because it was the blackout. There's no lights. So all people are coming to --

STRONG: They come outside, or --


BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Maybe it's some -- 10:00, 9:30. They stay. And outside, it's a lot of fun. And people, no lights. "Come on, what is this? What technology? Why cannot work the lights?" You stay, lights, maybe two days. [inaudible] light. Yeah. I have next drama and my friend in Brooklyn. I have big place in basement 111:00to bring a lot of water -- [speaking Darija] -- basement --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: Brooklyn. [speaking Darija]. Atlantic. [speaking Darija]. Yeah.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija]?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, the flood. They was living in the basement, and the water coming down --

STRONG: During Sandy -- Hurricane Sandy?

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Yes, Hurricane Sandy.

STRONG: You were in Red Hook?


DUGGAN: Oh my God.

STRONG: Oh my God! You were in Red Hook during Hurricane Sandy?

DUGGAN: In the basement?


DUGGAN: What happened?

STRONG: Tell me that story.

ABABOU: He say that the water --

BEN JAAFAR: The rain is coming with a lot of water. In the basement. There's a lot of clothes, a lot of something is done.



STRONG: Was this Latif's house? Where were you staying?

BEN JAAFAR: No, no. It's my friend. He live in a -- same place.

ABABOU: Same place?

STRONG: Same building?

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, same building.

ABABOU: Oh, same building. [speaking Darija]?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: No, another building. Yeah.

STRONG: No, nearby.

BEN JAAFAR: Another building, yeah. Yeah. There's a lot of friend, he's --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija] -- your stuff, your furniture?

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, there's furniture -- everything is done. There's guy who lived in the basement. [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh. Oh my God. Oh my God -- this -- all the stuff -- it was wet. 112:00Garbage. Like --

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Yeah.

STRONG: It's done.


STRONG: You were living in the basement in this house?

BEN JAAFAR: No, this guy -- my friend who live in [overlapping dialogue]--

STRONG: Oh, you weren't there.

ABABOU: Oh, okay.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. I live in [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, your instrument was wet too?

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, yeah.

ABABOU: The guembri?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, the [speaking Darija]. The drum.

STRONG: Your drum was there.

ABABOU: The drum was there, so it got wet.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Yeah.


BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. The hurricane is -- a lot of stuff -- a lot of houses is -- no good. Yeah.

ABABOU: Oh my God.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [laughter] He was like, it was weird, like, this day and the blackout day.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].


ABABOU: Oh, the Twin Towers.

BEN JAAFAR: Twin Towers.

ABABOU: The Twins.

BEN JAAFAR:[Like, you hear some people, you're talking -- movie, something like that? No, it's --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija] --

BEN JAAFAR: -- Manhattan and New York. Eh? What? And New York? What? [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: When the 9/11 --

STRONG: Two thousand one.

ABABOU: Yeah. He was -- he said, "I woke up, I saw the guys watching that plane goes into the building, and he was like, 'This is a movie, or what?' They say, 'No, it's real, it's happening now.'" It was, like, Hassan, he was very scared -- [speaking Darija] -- it's the war. Yeah. He was very scared. Yeah. I was, too.

BEN JAAFAR: There's a lot of people, too.

STRONG: Where were you when it happened?

ABABOU: Atlantic Avenue -- it's Fourth Avenue and Pacific Street -- Fifth Avenue, I'm sorry. I was in there, so when I go to the kitchen window, I see the Twins.

STRONG: You could see them from the window?

ABABOU: Yes. Because we live in Park Slope -- it's Park Slope area. So I -- 114:00yeah, I saw them. By the window. From the kitchen. Yeah, at nine o'clock-- nine-something --

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: -- my cousin, she was calling me. She lives here. She lives in Prospect -- Prospect and Seventeen -- or Prospect Avenue. And from his living room-- her living room, you can see the Twins -- the view of the nice downtown Manhattan. And she was, like, the clear view -- she was seeing the -- the -- the plane goes into the building --

DUGGAN: Wow. Yeah.

ABABOU: -- and she was calling me. "Hey, Karim! Wake up!" "What happened? Why are you waking up?"

DUGGAN: Yeah. You could see it.

ABABOU: She was like, "Listen. This is what happened." I -- "No, come on. You lying." She said, "Yeah, I'm sure." I go to the window, so I see the fire.

DUGGAN: Oh, wow.

ABABOU: [inaudible] I said, Look, it's a fire. Oh my God! They're gonna figure it out. So I was watching the TV and I see the second one.



ABABOU: And I was like, I want to go see what happened. There is nothing.

STRONG: There was nothing there.

ABABOU: Only the smoke. Where is the other building? Oh my God. I returned to the TV. I was shocked. Of course --

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. People were scared. I know it's scary.

DUGGAN: Yeah. And right away, they said that some Muslims did it. So how did that affect you guys?

ABABOU: Of course, I feel very bad. Of course.

DUGGAN: Did you -- were people more prejudiced or -- like, did you feel a -- any kind of hostility from people after that?


DUGGAN: Oh, that's good. [laughter]

ABABOU: I was drinking. So --

DUGGAN: So you didn't notice. [laughter]

ABABOU: No! No, it's not like that.

DUGGAN: Well, like what?

ABABOU: No, I'll tell you, I was drinking -- I wasn't drunk or something. I never, you know, drink until I got drunk.

DUGGAN: Okay. I've never seen you really drunk.

ABABOU: Yeah. But, you know, I stopped drinking a long time ago. So we used to go up on West Fourth in Manhattan --

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. Yeah.

ABABOU: -- [inaudible] -- we was there -- all Moroccan people. Hassan --



ABABOU: -- a lot -- many -- it's a lot of the Moroccans.

DUGGAN: I used to live there.

ABABOU: Yeah. I used to for years living there.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. I hang out in this [overlapping dialogue]--

ABABOU: [inaudible] in the West Four --

BEN JAAFAR: West Four.

ABABOU: So we used to go to that bar. So that night -- the same day -- there is no Moroccan over there. I was with Hussein, he was my cousin, too.

BEN JAAFAR: [inaudible].

ABABOU: So we went there, and the guy working at the bar by the door, he said, "Look, guys -- Karim, Hussein. You gotta leave." You know? "It's like this, it's like that." "What? It's none of my business. Come on! I want to go in." He said, "No, it's not good for you. It's no --" "What I did? No. I'm a customer. I'm coming here, like, every day." "Okay, guys. Go ahead." But no Moroccan was there.

STRONG: Everyone stayed home that day.

ABABOU: I don't know. Maybe a coincidence, or they made to not come into the bar, but I was there --

DUGGAN: Well, they tried to keep you from going in.

ABABOU: -- so it's okay for me.

DUGGAN: But you went in.



DUGGAN: Okay. All right.

ABABOU: Yeah. We went inside. We were enjoy a drink and everything. Of course, we feel very bad for what happened.

DUGGAN: Yeah. It was terrible.


DUGGAN: But you didn't do it. [laughter]

ABABOU: Yeah. So why you want to stop me? Yeah.

STRONG: And you were at home when this happened?

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. I'm -- place in my friend, Yemeni, to sleep. I wake up to see guy to look on TV. You watch, watch. What is this? This is New York today. Big drama. What? Drama? Wow. What is this -- and fly something like that, talk a lot of -- you know? Yeah.

ABABOU: Well, how did you feel, Hassan, when you see -- ?

BEN JAAFAR: I'm scared, brother. I'm sorry, but I was scared. Yeah. [speaking Darija]. It's big building to be -- something like that. It's flying -- blah blah blah. What is this? I don't know. It's scare. What happened? What happened? 118:00And it was big drama.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: No, no, no. [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Nowhere to go.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija]. Fourteenth street.

ABABOU: Closed.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABOBOU: No. Everything closed. Yeah. [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Disaster.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh my God. [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, now is God to help us for everybody -- yes, there's a lot of 119:00people is dead for nothing. Now there's a lot of people, you sick, because you smoke --

STRONG: That's right.

BEN JAAFAR: -- and buildings, there's a lot of people to dead. There's a lot of people and now, you need to help at a hospital. There's a lot of asthma, a lot smoke and buildings -- in Tribeca -- in everywhere. People is old. I know it's a lot of smoke, a lot of windows were closed, a lot of something. You know, because people is a lot of sick. Yeah. You fix the buildings, you fix in houses, because no fix yourself -- people. There's a lot of people is dead. There's a lot of people -- is more dead now. Is a lot of sick. These people is problem -- big problem in area and building to broken. And building, I know, is [speaking Darija] --

ABABOU: Oh, sick now.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].


ABABOU: After a long time, you feel like you are sick, because of that smoke or something or --

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Yeah. [speaking Darija].


BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija]?

BEN JAAFAR: Bronx. [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: The fire. And then, his room -- in Bronx. I don't know what happened.

BEN JAAFAR: I'm [inaudible], yeah.

ABABOU: The whole apartment was a lot of fire.

STRONG: You got a -- when you were living in the Bronx, your apartment caught fire?

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. Yes. Somewhere in Bronx. [I] live in Bronx, yeah. Some, I'm tired. These people to play and -- they said they no pay bill and lights. These people is come to broke -- light. These people -- [they] bring big [inaudible] to go to somewhere to bring light and house.


ABABOU: There's no -- the wires, they connect the wires and they don't know which wire to bring the [overlapping dialogue]--

STRONG: Oh, it was an electrical fire.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes, I'm coming, it's three days --

ABABOU: Oh, that smells fire.

BEN JAAFAR: Three days, I'm coming, and tired. I'm come to relax. These people is come to bother me in kitchen. I'm go to the room, I have some candy -- candle.

STRONG: Candle?

ABABOU: Candle.

BEN JAAFAR: You bring candle in the window. I'm gonna relax, I'm sleeping. I forget, what's that -- [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, the candle caused fire.

BEN JAAFAR: Is touching curtain -- [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: He was sleeping.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh! Oh, you did a little bit -- [laughter] --

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, [overlapping dialogue]--

ABABOU: He was sleeping until the fire department [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: The fire guys, they came in -- "Wake up! Wake up! Go out!"

STRONG: Oh goodness!

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. Yes. I'm sleeping. "Wake up! Wake up! And wake up and go!" 122:00Every face is black.

ABABOU: Oh my God.

BEN JAAFAR: There's a lot of smoke. And I'm talking to people. [They] talk to me, a lot of questions. What do you do? Is people come with fire with you? With people is come? And talk to [me]. No. Nobody come with me. Everybody is come with pitch in to bother me and talk something like that. Go to room to bring candle.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. It's something like that. It's fine.

ABABOU: Oh my God.

BEN JAAFAR: These people [who] live in building, it's clean. It have -- no have a accident.

ABABOU: Yeah, yeah. He lost --

BEN JAAFAR: People -- no have people is dead.

ABABOU: He lost his stuff. A lot of things.

BEN JAAFAR: Is the people is working. Is one smaller room, the fire, clothes, and something like that. Yeah. It's not a big problem.

ABABOU: Oh my God. Oh my God.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. It's fire is a -- is a lot of -- yeah.

STRONG: Can I ask you something? I mean, going back to the Moroccan community on Atlantic Avenue, you said that people aren't really there anymore. Do you know what changed and how the Moroccan community dispersed out from Atlantic Avenue 123:00from there?

BEN JAAFAR: No. No. Now it's people to go to somewhere. There's a lot of people to go to upstate. There's a lot of people you go to Morocco. It's -- there's a lot of people you go to buy new house in New Jersey. This community [from] Morocco is finished -- is a little bit. I have community [from] Morocco a lot -- in Bay Ridge. A lot of community [from] Morocco in Bay Ridge. And Queens. A lot of people community Moroccan and Egyptian -- Algerian. There's a lot of community [from] Morocco. Muslim people. Yeah. We have big mosque in Queens. This one mosque on Ramadan is -- people is come, there's a lot of eat, a lot of food is free -- you know, there's people to come to pray, come to book, Qur'an -- to talk -- nice question for people. These people you thank every time in God -- [inaudible] in God for people. These people no scared for nobody's 124:00[inaudible], you know? Yeah? There's a lot of people is -- you help people. These people, they no have some food. Yeah, you need to help. "What do you need? You come in." You come with them and start to buy what you need. Eat -- "What do you need? What kind of sandwich?" Oh, "What kind of sandwich?" Give money, and pay. And some day, people, "I need coffee," Yes, come to bring coffee. See people, "Please, give me cigarette." "I'll give you cigarette." Yeah. Sometime there's people is children living years -- seventeen years -- "Give me cigarette." "I'm no give you cigarette. I'm sorry. Because you're small and cigarette is no good for you." "Please, please, I have problem." I -- sometime to see, maybe you have some [inaudible] --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: "I'm talk to your question, what do you" -- "I have a problem with family. I'm fight with sister or family," da da da. "Is cigarette is for you -- he's small, he's a baby, I don't give you a cigarette. I give you some coffee, 125:00juice, water, you need -- I'll give you. A cigarette I don't give you." I mean, "Okay, go. That's it, I no give you a cigarette." Yeah.

ABABOU: Yeah. About the Moroccan community on Atlantic --


ABABOU: That's -- a life changed -- people.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, yeah.

ABABOU: Even -- like, I got my -- I moved from there to -- our of house. I don't have time to -- that's happened to many of the guys. I know some guys, they went out of States. They find a job over there -- you know, easy life and slow. They like it, and never come back to Atlantic.

DUGGAN: They want to [inaudible] Atlantic, it's very [overlapping dialogue]--

ABABOU: We was young. And, you know, no responsibility. Just hanging out, working --

STRONG: So mostly, it was single men.


BEN JAAFAR: It's people who's finished job, everybody you remember -- Karim, you're working in place, you finish, 5:00, maybe it's -- maybe 6:30 he's come to hang out in area, to buy some coffee, to look for somebody iss friend -- you 126:00look to start to talk question or something like that. Next guy is come in, "Oh, yes, Karim! [inaudible]." "Yes, [inaudible]." "Hassan is come, my friend. Can you make friends come with you?" Next guy, friends come with you -- it's -- maybe [inaudible] is 10 people, nine people, you work and it's done. You talk question. "What do you do yesterday?" family, blah, blah, blah. You know?

STRONG: Could you tell me the story -- 'cause I'm interested in how this network supported each other. Could you tell me the story of when you came from the airport, LaGuardia, to the café in Queens to Brooklyn and how you asked for a job and --

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. LaGuardia -- I'm stay in LaGuardia is -- my friend is come to Morocco, and we need to hang out in New York maybe two week, one month, something like that to look -- his friend, he live in New York. Hassan Hakmoun. He's from Marrakesh, Gnawa, blah blah. I have this friend in Marrakesh, too. We 127:00have a lot of friend who live in New York -- remembering, because the people in Morocco to talk to me is people who live in New York. I'm live in New York, I need to see everybody a little bit little bit. I'm stay in Queens -- to hang out in Queens. Is next guy to call me is come to see me in Queens. [He] bring me in Brooklyn to stay with him a little bit in Brooklyn. I need to have a [inaudible] -- and go to see in job. In Manhattan. I'm working restaurant --

ABABOU: How long do you stay before you go look for a job? [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija]. Two months, something like that.

ABABOU: Two months.


ABABOU: Okay. After two months, you started looking for a job?

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Two months, I have money. I [overlapping dialogue]--

ABABOU: Okay. Because -- yeah, because you have money.

BEN JAAFAR: I need to give myself. I have some time -- I have a friend sometime.

STRONG: Where did you stay during those two months? Where did you live?

BEN JAAFAR: I have a place to -- pay in a room --


ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija] Atlantic?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija]. Queens.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija] Atlantic?

BEN JAAFAR: Queens, [speaking Darija] Atlantic.

ABABOU: Oh, okay. One month in Queens, one month in Atlantic, and after that, he started looking for a job.

STRONG: And you were saying you were living in a house with lots of family is when you came to Atlantic?


STRONG: Oh, that was later?

BEN JAAFAR: No. Yeah. Later he hang out to see his friend. These people come to show me a lot if you live in the Red Hook. [speaking Darija]. He's my friend from Tangier.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: He's come in Gnawa. In Morocco, he have two job, he's there. He's Gnawa. He live in Morocco, he stay in New York. He have people to hang out and guy to live in Bronx. Is guy to come with me in Atlantic to talk to me. "I have next guy to Gnawa from Tangier. He remember you. And [overlapping dialogue] Hassan."


ABABOU: [overlapping dialogue] Red Hook. Yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: "Hassan is there from Fez, Morocco." "Oh, yes!" "You remember? Hassan is coming New York to show." Is Hassan is come first? Is next [inaudible] come and next group from --

ABABOU: Another -- another [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: Another group, he's come in New York. I'm come to show and New York. And go to Atlanta, Georgia. And Gnawa. And Tangier in Asilah.

ABABOU: Asilah.

BEN JAAFAR: He's coming. I have show in Washington, DC. And [inaudible].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija]?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, the other band, they got a job in Washington, DC and [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, okay. Two days in [overlapping dialogue]. They came -- the band -- Hassan's band. They came here. [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija] New York. [speaking Darija] --

ABABOU: They had a show in New York, after New York --

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. Yeah. We started [overlapping dialogue]--

DUGGAN: In Bryant Park.

ABABOU: In Bryant Park.



ABABOU: [overlapping dialogue] Bryant Park.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Ten days in New York -- [speaking Darija] --

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: One week in Atlanta, Georgia.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: And one week, Tunisia.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: In New York -- New York, they stay one month in Queens, one month in Brooklyn.


ABABOU: And then -- [speaking Darija]?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija] Manhattan, Figaro.

ABABOU: The first job, Le Figaro. [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: Figaro. And hang out [with] guys from Marrakesh -- is my friend remember me in Morocco -- to hang out with him, to talk on manager. He's guy to from Morocco, to need to job. He's somebody to help me. He -- and job in a restaurant. A little bit. I'm come to Brooklyn, [I] hang out with a lot of people [from] Moroccan to show me -- his place. He's there, he's there, he's there. "I'm help you, sir." And seeing next door between the house and Atlantic Avenue -- furniture -- Moroccan people, Moroccan [inaudible]. [I'm] working 131:00there. And Jewish guy from Morocco is boss. I'm [here] working with him to sell mattress and tables and couch and mirror -- and big couch -- big --

ABABOU: Furniture store.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes, furniture store. Now it's closed. I'm hang out with people. I need some next job. I go to look for job. I have in store -- to go to store -- Yemeni store -- to work with him -- to bring some soda, to clean and stuff, to bring some sandwich for people -- breakfast, something like that. Do a lot of something experience. Yeah. Now, there's people -- you give me job in store, I do -- something I have experience. [overlapping dialogue]--

ABABOU: You can do grocery store job.

STRONG: Oh, that's right.

BEN JAAFAR: To fix you some store --

ABABOU: You do the deli, too.

BEN JAAFAR: -- to fix you some sandwich, to fix you some everything. Yes. And buy some order. I have -- and [inaudible] to stay in store 24 hours. No scare, 132:00no nothing. Yes. There's a lot of people sometime is come to bother me. I no like to bother nobody. I have a lot of people is come with me. And [inaudible] don't give you cigarette. "What, you is come to [inaudible] with me? Listen, take cigarette, take [inaudible], no come back. Please. Okay?" "Oh, thank you. Thank you." Give you cigarette. Next time, he's coming -- guy -- "Oh, I need beer. I have one dollar." "Yes. Listen. It's beer, two dollars. Why you give me one dollar you need beer? Listen, I'll give you a beer, no come back, okay? Okay. Give me a dollar. I'm take dollar and give you a beer, two dollars, and pay, one dollar is my pocket."

ABABOU: [inaudible] store -- where?

BEN JAAFAR: Is -- on Nostrand and St. Marks.

ABABOU: Oh, okay. St. Marks and Nostrand.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Okay. Yeah.

STRONG: And you worked there 24 hours?

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. He's [inaudible] come with me to hang out with me in store. There's a lot of black people, there's -- and you know, I -- be honest with him.


ABABOU: 24 hours -- sometime -- with nobody gonna take the next shift, so he stayed. Not for always.

BEN JAAFAR: I take shift and 12:00 -- and morning 12:00.

ABABOU: Yeah. One shift to 12 hours straight.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. I'm -- I'm working to give somebody a sandwich, I'm working give somebody what you need. Is sometime is close the store and window to buy some [inaudible]. There's a lot of store --

ABABOU: Over here.

STRONG: This is where it was?


STRONG: Oh, I see.

DUGGAN: And the next two pictures [inaudible] --

BEN JAAFAR: Nostrand and St. Marks, yes.

DUGGAN: -- where he lived across the street.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. I live in same --

ABABOU: Nostrand.

STRONG: Ah, you were living across the street --

DUGGAN: Right across the street.

STRONG: -- from this deli in this gray building.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. Yes. This guy to leave me -- to come with him. Because any time a job is come in store, first.


BEN JAAFAR: Yes. There's a lot of years.

STRONG: Is this the same store, or --?

DUGGAN: This is the same store we went in.

ABABOU: Yeah. Right there.

DUGGAN: He talked to the guy. Like, the guys who were there when he was there have gone, but there -- there was a Yemeni guy there --



DUGGAN: -- and we talked to him.


ABABOU: That was 2008 --

DUGGAN: That was very traumatic.

ABABOU: -- 2008, 2009.

STRONG: You got robbed once when you were there -- twice? Once?


STRONG: Two times? Oh, geez.

BEN JAAFAR: Two -- I have a first time, on Nostrand and St. Marks, these two people is come to broke on the door. Is --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: -- 4:30, morning.

ABABOU: Four thirty a.m.

BEN JAAFAR: Four thirty in the morning.

ABABOU: So the door was closed --

BEN JAAFAR: No have nobody.

ABABOU: And he saw people from the window.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. His boss is coming to check money. There's people were -- you see him and -- next -- and outside -- in the window. And inside, in store, you just see boss, check money. Is boss, [he] leaving. Four thirty, something like that, is people is come with me. I'm see -- I don't see -- I'm fixing some -- news -- journal and something -- news -- title like that --

ABABOU: Newspaper.

BEN JAAFAR: Newspaper like that. I'm working and open the boxes and something like that. There's people -- to broke -- I'm look up, there's a guy -- and gun 135:00is there. Tell me, "Your money."

STRONG: Gun at your forehead.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. "Money." "Listen, I no have money, no have honey. Okay? Money is done. 'Cause boss is come to take money. I'm working. Listen. I have family, I have to work hard for 15 dollars. All day. No kill me, no nothing, okay? Do what you do. I take my jacket and go outside, you do what you do in store. Not my boss." "Man, shut up. Listen, I'm talk to you serious. I have money."

ABABOU: [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: "The money is done. All right?" I need to -- something -- you doing something. "I no have nothing money. I have some money in the register." "Go to see register. What kind of money?" We go to open the register. "Hey," it's first he told me da da da da. I'm talk to, "Listen, you do what you do. I don't have nothing, all right?" I talk to a little bit something like that -- different [inaudible]. People is scary but I didn't know. He's hit me with the gun -- [laughter] -- pushing gun -- "Shut up!" And, "Okay!" He steal me and he take me 136:00in basement. He's close in basement, go up to register, he took -- maybe 1,000. He's -- I'm working. "All right, you take." I have your money. He's boss -- he take me -- he give me maybe 2,000 and the money. I'm leaving some in a box of candy. I keep it in candy. Because I --

DUGGAN: Sound like a Yemeni. [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: To pay -- to pay an order -- and milk, beers --

ABABOU: To pay the order, maybe -- yeah --

BEN JAAFAR: -- and orders and store -- no give --

ABABOU: And to get the delivery and pay the delivery --

BEN JAAFAR: No give you free. It's milk -- no like to give you free. In store. Every store in New York. I take an experience. And dairy in store. And milk, no give you free. You give you free, maybe 10 dollars, five dollars is come back to give him. And beer.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, okay.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Okay. The milk delivery need to get his money right away.



ABABOU: So it was early morning, he came in at 6:00 or 7:00, the boss not there, so he leave the money. When the delivery coming, they have to pay.


ABABOU: [speaking Darija]?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, beers. Beer -- alcohol -- need to pay right away.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. Lamb. Chicken.

ABABOU: Meat. Chicken.

BEN JAAFAR: Turkey. [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija]

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, okay.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, no problem. Next -- you pay next time.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija]. I have experience. There's a lot of people to rob people. I have a truck --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija]. The basement -- they went to the basement. [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. [They] take me in basement, and somebody come to register, I have to --

DUGGAN: It's scary.

BEN JAAFAR: Next guy, you come to register, you take money in my pocket. You take a -- and cash [overlapping dialogue]--


ABABOU: They have the scratch in --

STRONG: The lottery.

ABABOU: Yeah, the lottery.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. You take some packets cigarette, something like that -- this guy to watch for me. Next guy -- he's come with me. He open basement, he come with me. [He] touch me, maybe I have cash in my pocket. And [he] take my money and cash. "I have your money." This guy to told me, any time I no take my money with me in pocket. You leave money in candy and somewhere. You take 1,000, something like that, in cash. [speaking Darija]. He come with me in basement to follow -- "Listen. I no have money. I'm telling you, I don't have money. I'm working" -- same [inaudible] --

ABABOU: [overlapping dialogue].

BEN JAAFAR: "Leave me alone. You what you do. Leave me alone. I'm tired." He's telling me, "Okay." He's going to see a video -- to picture and camera and store --

ABABOU: The camera was on.

BEN JAAFAR: To see what do he do.

ABABOU: You know, it was recording.

STRONG: Oh, it recorded the whole thing on camera.

BEN JAAFAR: "Yo! Yo! Come to see, come to see the camera!" Every -- something -- 139:00he hits camera and boxes and milk -- black boxes and milk -- small boxes.

ABABOU: And broke [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: [inaudible] -- boxes. And camera. He hits camera. Everything. [makes sound of breaking camera] He bring plastic bag and garbage, he check every stop and camera -- [inaudible]. [He] kill me, I no have proof. Nothing. He's God with me to help me. These guys took money -- I'm call cop, I call boss is coming together -- in the store. What happened? Is guy to come and look and the windows are broke. Is have some a little bit and blood is there, too -- hit me [with[ gun. The police, he helped me, saying me, "Go to hospital." "No, no. I'm fine. I'm good. I'm fine. I'm good." [inaudible] is coming inside to look -- [he] look and guy to take the cash book. You leave a cash book on the floor --

ABABOU: The lottery, yeah.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. You see [inaudible] -- police.

DUGGAN: Oh, yeah.


STRONG: He forgot the prints.

BEN JAAFAR: You see prints and papers on the floor. To check -- oh, yes. "Hassan is come with me to show you something." "Yes, no problem, officer." [He] take me in car. [He] leave me in the room. He give me some computer, he give me something -- and picture to look --

ABABOU: Pictures --

BEN JAAFAR: A lot of million pictures same.

ABABOU: [laughter]

STRONG: Lots of faces, and they all looked the same to you.

BEN JAAFAR: A lot of million picture is my eyes -- is -- is closed.

STRONG: 'Cause you've been working all day.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. Is -- "I talk to you, officer. I know no, nobody." "No see?" "No, I'm sorry. No see nobody." "Okay. What do you need?" "I need to go to relax now." "Okay, go home."

ABABOU: I remember --

BEN JAAFAR: "Listen. Take this one with you" -- a business card -- "[if you] see [the] guys [anywhere], no talk to him or nothing. Call me."

DUGGAN: Oh, this is a good story. [laughter]

ABABOU: And then?

BEN JAAFAR: And then is come to store, I'm smoke cigarette outside like that. I'm see guy outside. I'm come with him [inaudible]. I'm come with him. "Why you do that to me?" "Listen, I'm take you as my friend with me and give you what you 141:00need." He stopped. "No talk to police, talk to --" "Listen. Give me favor. Show me this guy to hit me with gun. I'd like to hit him."

ABABOU: He was looking for the guy --

DUGGAN: Oh, to get back. [laughter]

ABABOU: -- with the gun. So like, "I have no problem with you, but the other guy -- I want to" --

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, I'm -- it's Moroccan like that. "Listen. There's two people, I no have power to bring two people. It's no problem with you, okay? I need guy to show me where you live, give me address, I'm go to see him. He hits me, I need to hit him. I no call cops. Okay?"

STRONG: This whole experience --

BEN JAAFAR: Yes, he's tell me -- he told me -- this guy told me --

DUGGAN: Under the radar.

BEN JAAFAR: -- "Oh, no! No! He's my man! He's my friend, a lot of years. Oh, he's my man." "Who, me? Not my man? You live in area, any time you come in store and to help you, give you cigarette, give you some free. Not my man? He's your man? He's my man, I'll fuck you together. All right, you go to jail together. All right?"

ABABOU: [laughter] [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: I'm wait -- then I have funny. It's -- this guy -- "You leave me. He 142:00has boss, you see me, what do you talk." "I don't talk nobody is my friend, you talk to him something like that." He's got -- no, no, no. These people remember this guy. This guy? No, no, no. No this guy. This guy, nice guy. No rob store. This guy no rob store, and next guy, too. All right. I'm leave him alone. Sometime, I'm go to store to talk with my friend -- to check -- and job with me -- this guy to work 12:00 in morning -- I'm work 12:00 [speaking Darija] --

ABABOU: Oh, okay. [speaking Darija]?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: You start midnight, finish at --

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: The other guy worked from noon to midnight.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Oh, another guy, he told him -- Hassan tell him -- "That guy. That's what happened -- what happened with the other guy." The other Moroccan tell 143:00Hassan that he knows that it was --

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: -- he from Palestine. He told Hassan, "Yeah. I saw him with the gun."

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

STRONG: So then you called the police.

BEN JAAFAR: I call police, I no take him. I no see him. He's around. I no call police. I leave him alone. I know he's [inaudible]. I'm talk to my friend -- to work together in store.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].


ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [speaking Darija]. And then -- how you know the other guys?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].


BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija]. "I have two people." You tell him, "It's one. I 144:00no have nobody with me." I'm talk to police, see two people. There's cops who told him, "Listen." And a judge, too. He told him, "Listen. You bring a guy -- this guy to talk two people." He told him, "No. It's me. Nobody with me." I talk to him, "Two people. One is this, one black with him." And gun -- and gun and something like that.

ABABOU: And the gun, it was with the other guy.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Okay. They caught the guy with the --

BEN JAAFAR: This guy told him, "Listen. He's go to 9 years in jail. Maybe he's bring the guy with you?"

ABABOU: Or you're gonna spend, like, the both --

BEN JAAFAR: He told him, "No" --

ABABOU: -- in the jail.

BEN JAAFAR: "It's me." There's a lot of question for -- he go to come back and show -- and the court, something like -- like, you go to court any time. I'm sure him, he's guy. "Yes, [inaudible]," and that's it. I just come, "Look, I'm sorry, I'm busy. I'm need to work." I need to come back. And -- oh, to give you 145:00something -- I don't know, like, to give me a [inaudible], you give me break. Give him -- [inaudible] -- and the cops and -- and courts. That's in. Yeah. And 20 years in New York, sometime you go to hang out in Bushwick and go to work and somewhere there's a lot of [inaudible] place. Nobody come to hit me, nobody come to rob me. You know, [I] go street, [I] have instrument with me. Sometime is come drink, sometime is come tired. I no like people to come to bother me. I no bother nobody.

STRONG: Can I ask you something? You told me -- this must have been a rude awakening coming from Morocco, because you told me that during the call to prayer in Morocco, people would leave their stores open and just --

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, so jummah -- is Morocco is Fridays, people you go to hear you "Allahu akbar." And store -- is leaving store is open, you go to masjid to pray -- you leave store is open. They have pray and stuff, they have money, they have 146:00everything -- is Morocco, no. Because my country, in Fez -- I'm open eyes, I see like that. I'm [overlapping dialogue]--

ABABOU: Yeah, that was a long time.


BEN JAAFAR: I have -- in the Medina, I have two doors -- big doors -- to close. I have [inaudible] is 8:00, 7:30 -- is medina is closed. Next people is come --

ABABOU: Yeah, a long time, it was the custom --

DUGGAN: Medina is the old part of the city --

ABABOU: They closed the doors.

DUGGAN: -- the older neighborhood.

BEN JAAFAR: Is big. And set in country and --

ABABOU: Yeah, where I live.


ABABOU: And it's old time.

BEN JAAFAR: You remember this -- at the door.

ABABOU: It was 100 years old.

BEN JAAFAR: At the door.

DUGGAN: Wow. Wow.


BEN JAAFAR: Is people is come -- people is come.

ABABOU: We have a mosque there, have a mosque [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: Next country, in city, no go inside -- door is --

ABABOU: -- something.

BEN JAAFAR: -- closed. You wait.

ABABOU: And it's like new.

BEN JAAFAR: In the morning, to open --



BEN JAAFAR: -- is come to Medina to buy --

DUGGAN: [overlapping dialogue] America doesn't have that kind of history here [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: -- what you need -- food, clothes. Yeah. So Morocco is --

DUGGAN: Because of the [overlapping dialogue].

BEN JAAFAR: -- a lot of something -- is -- it's life.

DUGGAN: [overlapping dialogue].

ABABOU: [overlapping dialogue].

BEN JAAFAR: No have this people to scare or something. You take a [inaudible], you take a place clean. Maybe there's people you see in the streets, maybe a 147:00place -- some dirty or something. Like, there's people you take [inaudible]. I have big door is there. I have big door is there. You big -- and the neighborhood -- to close. I have next [inaudible]. It's closed. It's big doors -- to close -- in Medina.

ABABOU: It's like a castle -- [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. It's --

ABABOU: -- castles [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: -- these people is every time I have a [inaudible] people you wake up, and 4:00 in the morning, you go to masjid. It's dark outside.

ABABOU: And pray.

BEN JAAFAR: There's no -- to see nobody's people. You bring [inaudible], you bring shoes, you go fast -- to masjid to pray --

ABABOU: To pray.

BEN JAAFAR: -- to come back in house. To stay a little bit. You wake up, 7:00 to breakfast or something like that -- to clothes, to go to work. Maybe have time to go to masjid 1:30, 1:00 to pray. Okay, no have time. You finish job, is coming home. You take and wash or something -- You maybe pray, and salat in the 148:00house, no problem --

STRONG: After work.

BEN JAAFAR: Yes. They have a place in masjid with them in the house -- you go to masjid. Because it's God, you like people to come to masjid. And you like people to break salat every day. Next time, sometime, is tired, no problem. You break salat. You have people -- no have power to -- to talk "Allahu akbar" -- "Allahu akbar" to bring [inaudible] -- to start like that -- to make salat -- and eyes like that -- like that, like that. It is [inaudible]. You think on salat is God. You like it. [inaudible], you make salat in [inaudible]. [inaudible] Allahu akbar, blah blah blah blah blah. It's fine. [inaudible]. That's it. These people, you have power, you go to masjid to take, to up, to down, to up. You have your power. Yeah? There's a lot of Muslim wake up -- is first time is my father who told me, "Go [inaudible] for salat for Islam, please. You go to masjid." You don't go to -- my father in masjid -- maybe 16 years, something 149:00like that. Ten years, [I] go [with] my father. And Eid [inaudible] on Ramadan. And Eid [inaudible], you go to masjid and -- family, father, there's mother. Ramadan. You know? It's Muslim. You go to something. Everybody to, like -- to salat. Everybody. Yeah. There's people, a lot of years -- no salat, same time, you see him, you clean, you go to masjid to salat. You love salat. You love people is clean, is salat. You make people is clean. No dirty. Any time is clean. Any time you go to [inaudible] and -- incense. People is come to -- to house -- God house. To pray, to relax. Nobody is come to rob you on -- on masjid. Masjid is [inaudible] -- to sit down, to relax. I no have nothing. You 150:00bring book -- to open -- to bring one [inaudible] for you serve for family -- for maybe father -- dad -- maybe mother. Is please Allah. Everybody -- you're working, is come to -- to do something. These people no think, What do you do tomorrow? Is God to -- take with you tomorrow. These people, no. These people, you work -- I know -- what can remember tomorrow, what are you doing tomorrow. It's God. You remember tomorrow what you do. [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: [laughter] Yes.

STRONG: Were you able to find that here in Brooklyn when you came? Was life -- 151:00was prayer like that in masjid here in Brooklyn, or totally different?

BEN JAAFAR: In Morocco, first.

STRONG: Yeah. In Morocco, first. But --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija]?


STRONG: It's the same?

BEN JAAFAR: Same. Yeah, same. Salat, same. Same salat in Morocco and New York -- everywhere place. Same. To go to -- [speaking Darija].


BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: Because, yeah, I pray with the Egyptian guys -- same thing. I pray with the -- in the mosque -- by, like, all the Arab people. Maybe other countries, not Arab but Muslim, we do the same thing.

BEN JAAFAR: I'm go to -- I'm sorry. I'm go some time in masjid to see African -- is -- is song, you talk, it's different. You look -- you talk "Allahu akbar" -- "Allahu akbar" -- same.

ABABOU: Yeah, but it's okay, because their language --


BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Sometime, I'm sit down, these people is coming -- one people, maybe two. I'm stay. There's guy, you stay with me to wait, maybe salat al-'asr -- to pray together. No, like, everybody to pray [by yourself]. You pray [by] yourself nobody in masjid, you pray [overlapping dialogue]--

ABABOU: Yes. You pray -- pray together.

BEN JAAFAR: I is coming to -- oh, a little bit is come -- two people, one people. You make salat at five, four people together. Is God to like it. Sometime, [I] see guys is [inaudible]. "I need to make salat." This guy, "I don't understand to make salat." He tell me, "Come. Bring salat." "You remember Muslim people?" "I do. I like it." [Speaking Darija]. You wake up, and you make salat.

ABABOU: Yeah, [overlapping dialogue]--

BEN JAAFAR: These people is come -- these people is come with me, to bring 153:00salat, to hear you. I have a [speaking Darija] --

ABABOU: You can pray, but --

BEN JAAFAR: You pray.

STRONG: But silently.

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija] you talk. [inaudible] Fajr, you talk. It's 'asr, no talk.

ABABOU: [overlapping dialogue].

DUGGAN: Really? There's one salat that you don't --

ABABOU: No. Dhuhr. No. Dhuhr.

BEN JAAFAR: Dhuhr, yes.

ABABOU: The one between 12:00 and 1:00.


ABABOU: Yeah. Silence.

DUGGAN: Wow. Twelve and 1:00 during the day?


DUGGAN: Okay. I didn't know that.

ABABOU: Yes. Between 12:00 and 11:00, because it's changed.

DUGGAN: Right, with the --

ABABOU: -- the sun.

DUGGAN: Yeah. Where the sun is. Right.

STRONG: Do you need to take a call?


STRONG: Do you need to take this call?

BEN JAAFAR: No, it's fine.

STRONG: Oh, okay.

DUGGAN: You could hear all that chirping?


DUGGAN: E-mail.

STRONG: Oh, is that what that is?

DUGGAN: [inaudible] his email.

ABABOU: [inaudible].

DUGGAN: Yeah. A lot of calls just --


STRONG: Well, let's think about wrapping up, then. Are there any -- is there anything I should have asked you that you would -- stories you would like to share as part of this?

BEN JAAFAR: I'd like to share -- I love New York. I do to -- to work. For everybody. Musician. And American and Moroccan and African and Cuba -- rumba. Everybody, I like to help [them]. I like to see everybody to help --is music -- to -- nice -- city. I love my country, Morocco. That's what -- Yeah.

STRONG: Well, thank you.

BEN JAAFAR: You're welcome.

STRONG: If you think of any other tidbits or stories you'd like to share, feel free to let me know.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

BEN JAAFAR: I -- I am -- fine, alhamdulillah. Everything is good. I have one 155:00drama with -- I have a small [speaking Darija]. [laughter]

ABABOU: [laughter]

STRONG: What is this?

ABABOU: The baby goat.

STRONG: Baby goat?

ABABOU: That was in Morocco.



DUGGAN: Aww. Tell her. Tell her.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. There's a baby goat to hang out with me. It's baby, small. I bring some milk with him to help him --

DUGGAN: How old were you?

BEN JAAFAR: -- to working with me.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija]?

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

ABABOU: He was in thirties.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, something like that. Yeah.

DUGGAN: This is how I learn Arabic. [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, it's [phonetic]Msaoud hang out with me. He's black -- the color.

ABABOU: He called him Msaoud.

STRONG: Saoud?

ABABOU: Msaoud.


ABABOU: It's a name.

STRONG: Just the name of the goat?


BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. And he gets Msaoud. He go with me somewhere. I know, you know, sometime, I'm fine with people outside -- leave him in some place.


ABABOU: It was following him like -- like a little dog or something.

STRONG: Yeah. Oh, wow.

ABABOU: Yeah, he can't --

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. He's good, yes. I'm leave him somewhere. I'm go to sleep. I wake up. I'm think, Msaoud, "Where you leave him Msaoud last night?" I think. I'm leave somewhere.

ABABOU: He lost Msaoud.

BEN JAAFAR: I'm go outside in area -- you hang out. Is he there? I'm talk. I'm look. I remember [inaudible]. Msaoud! Msaoud! [makes sound of goat bleating] He's there.

STRONG: [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: Swear to God. Yeah. He there. I go to place and look for -- the house. [inaudible] What are you doing? Yesterday, I [inaudible] -- yes. I'm [inaudible].

ABABOU: That was the next day.

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. I'm leave something like that, I'm think -- [makes sound of goat bleating] -- Oh, Msaoud is there. I'm go to the door. Da da da da, there's people who's come. "Listen, give to me, give to me --" and boy. He told me, "Oh, no." [inaudible] [makes sound of goat bleating] [inaudible] I bring Msaoud with 157:00me, give to me. I bring Msaoud in the house. Is my friend, you play with my father a long time -- a lot of years. He's dead. I have two childrens -- I have two boys, one girl. [He] leave him, his father, he's dead. He used to play with me. Oh, he play with my father.

DUGGAN: He did. [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: [He] play and -- and they -- it's come with me in the house to see -- he told me, "Maâlem, I like it. He's my -- my brothers you like to see him, my sister." Okay. So he came in the house. No problem. You take him, we can hang out with him a little bit, something like that. [They] eat him.


DUGGAN: That's terrible.

ABABOU: They eat him, so --

BEN JAAFAR: They eat him. Yeah. They eat him.

STRONG: Oh, no!

DUGGAN: That's terrible.

BEN JAAFAR: I don't [inaudible] with him, because -- I don't know, I love him a lot. I know -- anytime come, [inaudible], "Maâlem! You have nice place -- to 158:00eat, to good."

DUGGAN: [laughter] [overlapping dialogue].

BEN JAAFAR: "Okay. I need to see Msaoud." I'm wait for Msaoud maybe -- and -- for a week. "Have you seen Msaoud?"

DUGGAN: Oh, oh --

BEN JAAFAR: I'm come to -- to visit -- to see Msaoud. His sister smoke. He told me, "I eat Msaoud."

STRONG: Oh no! [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: I'm eat Msaoud! It's animal you -- people you eat, because --


BEN JAAFAR: -- it's small baby, you don't do that. No, eat -- [inaudible] --

DUGGAN: It got bigger, huh? [laughter]

BEN JAAFAR: Yeah, he's hungry. [laughter] [inaudible].

STRONG: Oh, dear.

DUGGAN: Yeah. And that story shows what a beautiful heart he has. It really does.

STRONG: It's like, "Okay."

DUGGAN: Yeah, he just attunes --


DUGGAN: My daughter has a little dog -- four-pound dog -- who is so jealous -- and doesn't particularly like men. And we went out and saw her in Oregon. And so 159:00the first thing she does, she picks us up, and --

BEN JAAFAR: [inaudible]?

DUGGAN: -- we go to a restaurant to eat lunch. And it's a nice day, so --

BEN JAAFAR: [speaking Darija].

DUGGAN: -- we had to leave the dog in the car.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

DUGGAN: So the [overlapping dialogue] disappears -- like [overlapping dialogue] comes back.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

DUGGAN: We didn't find out till we got to the car that he had gotten a dish of water and brought it out to the car for the dog. Without -- he just knew that this dog is gonna need this. And when we came back, the dog was like, "Oh, Hassan!" You know, he loved Hassan, which that dog never does. So he has a beautiful -- a beautiful heart.

ABABOU: [speaking Darija].

DUGGAN: Who's that, honey?

BEN JAAFAR: [inaudible].


STRONG: Well, are there are any stories I should have asked --

BEN JAAFAR: [inaudible].

STRONG: -- that you know of?

DUGGAN: Not that I can think of.

STRONG: Okay. Well, thank you, everyone, so much for your time.

ABABOU: No problem.

DUGGAN: You're welcome.

BEN JAAFAR: Thank you. Thank you.

STRONG: The next step is, I'll get this transcribed. I'll send you a copy.

DUGGAN: Oh, cool.

STRONG: I'll e-mail it to both of you.

DUGGAN: We'll look at it.

BEN JAAFAR: Together, yes.

STRONG: And then all three of you, can take the opportunity to look through it --


DUGGAN: Yeah. We'll get together and we'll go over it. Yeah.

STRONG: Yeah. And there'll be time for that. And, you know, let me know if you 160:00have any questions or if anything else comes up.

BEN JAAFAR: There's Gnawa in New York, there's Gnawa in Morocco, there's Gnawa [inaudible] -- every people you love. Gnawa everywhere.


BEN JAAFAR: And Casablanca and Marrakesh and Fez. And Essaouira, Tangier. There's a lot of -- million maâlems in Morocco today. We have next maâlem childrens is coming now, you know? It's -- a lot of community in Gnawa. I have a lot of friend. Anytime.

STRONG: Obviously, yes.

BEN JAAFAR: To call me, to hang out with me, to bless with me. And people to hang out with me. It's God to bless for everybody. You have musician. To like music. To work a lot of had for music. To give people is medicine -- this music, is medicine for people.


BEN JAAFAR: Yeah. Thank you, [speaking Darija] Karim --

ABABOU: [speaking Darija], Hassan.

BEN JAAFAR: -- Diane Duggan.

STRONG: And thank you.

BEN JAAFAR: You, too.

STRONG: Thank you. All right.

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Interview Description

Oral History Interview with Hassan Ben Jaafar

Hassan Ben Jaafar was born in 1962 in Fès, Morocco. He studied music under his father, following in his footsteps to become a Maâlem (master musician). After coming to New York in 2000, he collaborated with a wide variety of musicians, performing both individually and with his band, Innov Gnawa.

Hassan Ben Jaafar discusses his early life in Morocco, especially regarding his culture and his musical education through his father's school. He also speaks about coming to New York City, especially to the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn. He expands on his musical influences; performances in a variety of venues across New York City, and work with his band, Innov Gnawa. He also talks about his memories of the September 11 Terrorist Attacks in 2001; surviving a house fire; being robbed while working at a store; and involvement in Masjid Farooq in the Boerum Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. This interview includes extensive conversation in Moroccan Darija. Interview conducted by Liz H. Strong.

This collection includes oral histories conducted and arranged by Brooklyn Historical Society in 2018. The interviews reflect varying approaches to religious observance among Muslim Brooklynites in relation to a wide range of communities and traditions within Islam, including Sunni, Shi'i, Sufi, Nation of Islam, W. D. Mohammed community, Five Percent, Dar ul Islam, and Ansaarullah. Collectively, there is particular focus on cultural and religious customs, practices, and gender roles within these communities; education and the arts; immigration from South Asia and the Middle East; the Nation of Islam; Islamophobia in the wake of the 1993 and 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center as well as after the 2016 presidential election; political activism and engagement; and community relations with law enforcement and government officials.


Ben Jaafar, Hassan, Oral history interview conducted by Liz H. Strong, February 12, 2018, Muslims in Brooklyn oral histories, 2018.006.03; Brooklyn Historical Society.


  • Ben Jaafar, Hassan
  • Masjid Al-Farooq (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)


  • Arabic language
  • Moroccans
  • Music
  • Performing arts
  • Robbery
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001


  • Boerum Hill (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Fès (Morocco)
  • Red Hook (New York, N.Y.)


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Muslims in Brooklyn oral histories