Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Hakim [extended]

  • Live in America: The Lion Roars [Mondo Melodia, 2001] A-
  • Talakik [Mondo Melodia, 2002] A-

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Live in America: The Lion Roars [Mondo Melodia, 2001]
The Egyptian sha'bi style reigned over by this good-looking country lad cum college grad remains sufficiently exotic stateside to resist piddling distinctions, but one thing can surely be said about his 95-minute virtual best-of: It never stops. The Cairo horns that sound so stately in most Middle Eastern pop are riotous, and while I couldn't tell you which percussion interlude goes where without consulting a scorecard, any one can get you going. What it evokes for me is a classic James Brown show with fewer rest stops and a less brilliantly elaborated bottom-the kind of high-energy ritual fools think primitive but we know as a specialty of urban society in the electric age. A-

Talakik [Mondo Melodia, 2002]
Mixing producers from Natacha Atlas svengalis Trans-Global Underground to jazz-funk hack Narada Michael Walden to several actual Egyptians, risking a Moorish duet with Puerto Rican merengue diva Olga Tan and countenancing the cornball soul shouts of an unidentified co-conspirator I fear is Walden himself, Hakim could have come up with crossover crap, and without crossing over. Instead he provides an object lesson in world fusion--even when it doesn't translate all the way, Hakim's barely contained enthusiasm and pervasive musical intelligence give you something to take home to mama. Figure that when producers outdo themselves this much, it's probably the singer's fault. A-

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