Hakim, Islam Chipsy and the lion's roar
Profet's Chief Ideologue Filip Lindström unravels his enigmatic affection for Hakim, an artist that there is no explainable reason to not be a acquainted with.
I think Hakim is about to release a new album any time now. You don’t know who Hakim is? Well, tough luck, too bad for you, you’d better stop reading straight away. Before Hakim, my life was a shadow of what it is today, and I can no longer imagine what it’s like for you ignorant few who are unaware of his existence. I can only assume it’s unbearable. You might ask, even if you do know who The Lion of Egypt is, why I as a prominent and overly important pop journalist only think Hakim is about to release a new album any time now. I suppose you wonder how I don’t know Hakim is about to release an album any time now. Well, I enjoy keeping my relationship with Hakim’s Shaabi music a bit mysterious, and as you might know, my enjoyment is more important to me than anything else. I enjoy not knowing what Hakim sings about, and even though I follow him on various social platforms and get excited when seeing him in the studio, I would never go so far as to translate his Arabic captions to investigate what his posts are actually saying. The language barrier between me and Hakim makes our fling more enticing, because I can make my own picture of his message.
Hakim recently appeared in an Instagram video with another favorite Egyptian musician of mine, Islam Chipsy, dancing in his studio space to a presumably new song. Islam Chipsy has taken the Shaabi genre, that Hakim modernized in the 90’s, into a present day setting and a worldwide fame with his ferocious synthesizer frenzies. He is the undisputed king of the Electro Shaabi branch, recruiting new followers with his hyped up live shows and his intensely innovative techniques. Before Chipsy, Hakim was the foremost Shaabi royalty, and the one to popularize it in America, where he got the moniker The Lion of Egypt.
When I heard Hakim’s new single »Abo El Regoula«, I knew Chipsy had had something to do with it. Hakim had gotten a new energy, the music was faster and the traditional Shaabi beat was remodeled after Chipsy’s new fashion. In the song’s video Hakim performs on the back of a truck driving around city streets to the entertainment of the pedestrians. Only one scene strikes me as set up, where he sings from a stage and his audience is waving Egyptian flags. Otherwise, the people of Egypt seem sincerely happy to just rest their eyes on Hakim, who in a way looks like an Egyptian Billy Crystal.
I read Niveen Ghoneim’s article »Islam Chipsy and the battle for Egypt’s musical identity« in Egyptian online magazine Cairo Scene to find that Chipsy has in fact produced Hakim’s work before. With »Abo El Regoula« and hopefully an upcoming album, this Shaabi power couple splice the genre’s past qualities with its future possibilities. The old master meets the new one, The Lion King announces his successor.
I can only think of a few examples of great music icons being given new life by an up-and-comer in the same genre, a cross culture equivalent of what Tarantino famously did to Travolta’s career with »Pulp Fiction«. New Orleans voodoo man Dr John’s extraordinary album »Locked Down« from 2012 is one, where The Black Keys’ front man Dan Auerbach relit The Night Tripper’s spark. »Locked Down« might very well end up being the Doctor’s last crack at a relevant studio recording, but I don’t believe whatever Hakim and Chipsy is cooking up is going to be the last roar from The Lion of Egypt.