Usually labeled “neo-soul”, though he says he doesn’t set out to fit into any one genre, Hakim has become known in indie circles for his cryptic, personal lyricism and retro-infused (yet undeniably modern) sound.
He talked about the impact his upbringing had on his music, how he came from a musical family, and how his South American roots have influenced him. “Cuban music, Afro-Peruvian music, folk music, nueva canción,” he says, ticking off each genre as he went.
But after moving to Washington, D.C., he quickly became enamored with the west, listening to jazz, soul, hip-hop and even rock as a teenager. He lists Gil Scott-Heron as a leading influence, as well as Alice Coltrane and Little Jimmy Scott.
Though he says he started music late by his family’s standards, he began writing lyrics in grade 6 (“just little rhymes,” he downplays) and started with the piano as a junior in high school.
After high school he attended Berkley School of Music, and though he praises his time there and the theoretical knowledge it gave him, he acknowledges that he had to put it behind him to grow more as an artist.
“It was a battle of forgetting all that shit, I don’t regret going to school at all but you kind of have to unlearn all that afterwards to develop as an artist.”
Green Twins, his debut LP, is a perfect exemplar of his unique, retromodern sound. He started writing the album after moving from D.C. to New York City, it took him nearly four years to finish, and is in part a reflection on his experiences with the city. As for the album’s theme, he describes it as “all over the place,” but “lust, love, and manic feelings” pop up throughout.
He recently returned from the European leg of his tour, an experience that he enjoyed and considers an opportunity to connect with fans. “What’s cool about it is that you get to see in the flesh who’s reacting to your music. It’s a blessing, and I’ve learned a lot touring and travelling.”
Green Twins, Hakim’s debut LP, comes out this Friday, May 19th.
Remaining tour dates:
May 17 Bowery Ballroom - New York, NY
May 20 Rock & Roll Hotel - Washington, DC
Nov 7 The Lantern - Bristol
Nov 8 KOKO - London, UK
Nov 9 The Deaf Institute – Manchester, UK
Nov 10 King Tut's – Glasgow, UK
Nov 11 Brudenell Social Club – Leeds, UK
Post by Dan Goldsmith