In 2018, Tinariwen finished an international tour in support of their previous album, Elwan. They were unable to return to their home area in northern Mali due to sectarian violence and threats from Islamist militants. The group instead decamped in Morocco and embarked on a multi-month journey through Western Sahara and Mauritania, collaborating with local musicians at several stops along the way and writing songs while camped out in the desert. Upon arriving in Nouakchott they were hosted by Mauritanian singer/griot Noura Mint Seymali and her husband Jeiche Ould Chighaly. The album was recorded outdoors in the Nouakchott area with mobile equipment, with additional overdubs recorded at studios in France and Morocco. The Guardian noted that the album's unusual genesis "places the listener entirely within the nomadic Tinariwen universe." The album's lyrics reflect the group's recent struggles in trying to return to their homeland, their journey through Western Sahara and Mauritania, and their experiences as an unlikely international touring act.