Recognized worldwide as a leader of the movement to popularize jeel (music of the younger generation), Hakim is an innovator who has revolutionized the genre of sha’bi (indigenous Egyptian music). His music adds modern rhythms to a foundation of traditional sha’bi melodies, resulting in entirely new sounds. It is the music of the masses, evident by his ever-growing fan base throughout Europe, Australia, and the Middle East. Lauded as a musical “trail blazer,” Hakim has sold an estimated ten and a half million units throughout his career. Just as sha’bi is defined as the music of the people, Hakim is someone his audience can relate to, through songs that fuse traditional melodies with urban dance beats, and lyrics that chronicle daily life through the rhythm of street slang.
A major figure in the international music scene, Hakim has played to sell-out crowds in Europe, the Middle East, Australia, North America, and Africa. These concerts include major international festivals like the Sfinks Festival (Belgium), Les Orientales (St. Florent, France), Ghazala Beach (Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt), Palais Des Congres (Paris), the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, and Extra Fiesta (Rome). He has received numerous accolades including the award for Best North African Singer 2000 at Africa’s prestigious Kora Awards, and he was chosen to represent Egypt at 1994’s Festival des Allumees in Nantes, France. In 1999, his rising popularity prompted France’s Blue Silver label to release “The Best of the Big Egyptian Star,” an album of hits that was met with acclaim from crowds of new European fans. In the 2006 , he was the first Arab singer to perform at the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.
Hakim was born in Maghagha, in the province of Minya, Egypt. A devotee of sha’bi from the very beginning, he began singing at the age of eight. At fourteen he formed a band and started performing at local parties and school functions with the accompaniment of a tabla, a daf, and an accordion. The band played covers of classic sha’bi hits by Ahmed Adaweya, Mohamed El Ezabi, and Abdel Ghani Al Sayed. Soon they expanded, bringing in keyboards and drums and performing all over the Minya province. Under academic pressure from his father, who, as the mayor of Maghagha, wanted his son to secure a professional future rather than follow his artistic proclivities, Hakim moved to Cairo to attend the prestigious University of El Azhar. Meanwhile he was meeting with other musicians at the cafes on Mohammed Ali Street (a centuriesold gathering spot for artists of all sorts) and his interest in renewing the sha’bi genre was cemented. It was there on the bustling streets of Cairo that he received his musical training for the music of the streets. One of Hakim’s teachers was the famed street accordionist Ibrahim El Fayoumi, who helped him convey in his music the unadulterated spirit of the street.
Having completed his B.A. in Communications in 1983, Hakim returned to Maghagha with the intent to pursue music. He formed his own orchestra consisting of a blend of oriental instruments (tabla, daf, dohola, accordion, kawala, quarter-tone trumpets) and western instruments (drum set, bass guitar, keyboards). They set about performing all over Minya, and Hakim soon became the province’s most popular singer. Yet he still longed for the artistic atmosphere of the metropolis of
Arabic music. So, following his passion and defying his father, Hakim moved to Cairo to devote himself fully to his music.
In 1989 Hakim met the highly-acclaimed producer Hamid El Shaeri and a great partnership was formed. Soon after, Hakim signed a contract with the record company Sonar Ltd / Slam Records and began recording his first album, with El Shaeri as his producer. Response to the electronic-sha’bi mix of Nazra, released in 1991, was phenomenal, as the album hit the charts immediately and the first pressing of the cassette was sold out within a month. Hundreds of phone calls came in requesting Hakim to perform. Determined to get the word out about the album, he went to DJs and gave them copies of his tape – the first time any Egyptian artist handled his own publicity
in this way.
In 1994, after the release of his second album, Nar, Hakim was chosen to represent Egypt at the Festival des Allumees in Nantes, France. Hakim, shrewdly viewing this as an opportunity to bring jeel music to a wider audience, popularized sha’bi as no other musician had, and became known as the “roi du jeel” (“king of jeel”). 1996 saw Hakim receive a nomination for the esteemed Kora Award in the category of Best North African Singer. In the same year he released the album Efred, the first of many collaborative efforts between himself, lyricist Amal El Taer, and composer Essam Tawfik. (Although Hakim stopped doing covers in favor of performing original songs, he has only written a small portion of his songs. In the collaborative process, he offers general concepts, which are then developed further by El Taer and Tawfik.)
With 1998’s Hakim Remix, he turned eight of his previously-released hits over to Britain’s Transglobal Underground, who then put their own spin on things. It was a daring move, as Hakim had to maintain the right balance between tradition and innovation. “I don’t mind pushing towards the evolution but I do not want to lose the identity in the process,” he noted. Also released in 1998 was the album Hayel, a selection of traditional sha’bi and return to his musical roots.
Hakim’s experimental search for the perfect fusion of tradition with innovation is presented in his album Yaho, which released on Mondo Melodia / Ark 21 Records in 2000. The original version was already a huge success in the Middle East, having sold over 1 million copies. The U.S. version features four remixes by the acclaimed British group Transglobal Underground and two brand new songs including Yemin We Shemal by French producer Sodi and El Bi Hebeni El. It is a testament to Hakim’s sha’bi roots as well as a musical journey on an international level. In traditional sha’bi style, classical Middle Eastern instruments such as the oud and nay mingle with Hakim’s rich tenor vocals during the mawwal (the emotional melodic beginning to a song that is sung or spoken over a slow instrumental section before breaking into the fast-moving main body of the composition). Also keeping with sha’bi custom, Hakim’s lyrics, which are mostly about everyday life, are never maudlin or heavy; rather they are coy, light-hearted, and witty.
His most significant live album was recorded in the heart of Brooklyn New York, released in 2001 The Lion Roars, Live in America produced by Dawn Elder, and released in on Mondo Melodia/Ark 21. This album was a revelation for Hakim in capturing the true essence of his live musical performance and sound. This album in its purity captures the fiery energy of this innovative performer’s music, the solid and infectious percussion rhythms of his band and the emotion and power of his vocals. Singing to audiences who mostly didn’t understand a word of Arabic, he captivated them with his voice, and the rootsiness of his sha’bi (Egyptian street pop) music. And when he improvised on the opening mawals (introductions) the power of his voice and style became unmistakable.
This release was also followed by the most significant tour in Hakim’s International career. Originally slated to commence his first major American tour in September of 2001 along with fellow Algerian Artist Khaled, Hakim was stunned as the entire world watched on TV the devastation of the 911 events in America. He stood at the airport watching the news with his Egyptian orchestra all set to board a plane to NY on the eve of 911.
The tour was of course canceled, but notably rescheduled a few months later. Hakim along with his entire Egyptian Orchestra believed it was vital to the healing of communities of all ethnic backgrounds in the United States to proceed with his tour North America. Hakim wanted to bring another face, and share the heart and love the Egyptian people felt and sympathy they wanted to express to all Americans for this tragedy. And show that the general populations of Egypt are just ordinary folks just like the people and communities here in all across America. This was a historic tour, and was welcomed from city to city. Hakim was hailed by audiences and International and National media for his diplomatic efforts, and his use of music to bring people together. In 2004 and 2005 Hakim released two more albums Talakik & Kolo Yorkoss. Talakik, released on Ark21 featured two hit singles and won several Latin music awards. The first Ajielbi (A duet with Olga Tanon, featuring Delinquent Habits which topped the Latin & Arab Music charts, followed by a second hit “ Salam” featured in the movie staring Reece Witherspoon Vanity Fair. Lela featured collaborations with the legendary James Brown and Stevie Wonder. His song El Salam Aleikum is used in the sound track ot the film Vanity Fair featuring Reese Witherspoon.
With several current hit singles in the Middle East and the pending World wide release of the remix album with Don Omar, Hakim is poised to bring sha’bi to new musical heights and new audiences. He is currently working on his next album which is sure to take the mover and shaker to hole new realm sure to delight both fans and critics alike. Stay tuned and hang tight, Hakim is about to roar once more. During the next few months, Hakim will bring his dynamic stage performance to North America, Germany, France, and Australia. Hakim’s contagious melodies along with his lyrics of the street make his music popular to mass audiences. His dance, singalong, and feel-good music are the signature of Hakim’s success.
In December 2006 HAKIM performed in Oslo (N) at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert.
Also in 2006 HAKIM performed in Switzerland, Germany and the United States.
In 2007 HAKIM released a new CD “TIGI TIGI” which immediately made it into the charts in Egypt and around the Middle East – not to mention also in France (Beur FM October ’07). He has toured with his new show for the album in extensively in 2008- 2009 in; Australia, Europe – (Austria, France, Germany, and Switzerland) and the Middle East.
In 2010 HAKIM headlined in the International Freedom to Create Foundation awards ceremony held in Cairo, Egypt at the Citadel and also toured outside of the Mena countries in Australia and Scandinavia and was the headliner for the Gran Ramdam concert in Paris, France before an audience of more than 20,000. HAKIM’s song Tigi Tigi from his album of the same name, featuring Don Omar, is used in the TV series Blue Bloods
In 2011 HAKIM released a new album “YA Mazago” which included the highly acclaimed song “Kolena Wahed” which called for a unity of the peoples of the Arab world. He has been touring the extensively through 2011 and 2012 promoting the new album.
In 2013 HAKIM released a new single “Resala”, a song promoting peace, that has touched specially the young generation in Egypt and the Middle East.
In 2014 HAKIM is invited to write the lead song and perform it live in a movie Halawet Rooh, of the same name, staring the Middle East’s most popular actress Haifa Webhe. The movie was a success and the video clip released of the song during the summer reached 100+ million views: https://youtu.be/Hd4zxdwr_X0. HAKIM toured extensively in the Middle East to promote his single and also performed a limited number of shows in Europe. One of his favorites was a concert offered by the city of Malmo (SE) to the new community of refugees from the Middle East – more than 10,000 people attended. Also in 2014 HAKIM was a guest judge, for 14 weeks, on the Arabic television version of the show ‘Your face Sounds Familiar” broadcast on the Lebanese TV channel MBC which is the most viewed channel by the Arabic communities around the world. His success in this show has led to his becoming a host of his own TV show On October 5th, 2015 HAKIM released his newest single “Aam Salama” which has been very well received. On youtube.com it surpassed a million views in just 3 days. A second single “Aala Wadaak” was released in the summer of 2017. The video clip was filmed in Madrid with well reknown dancer Sara Lopez. The single hit all the
dance floors of the summer 2017. Not long after the summer and after his two successful singles, Hakim was back on the road for an European tour in which he performed in one of the most prestigious venue in Paris , “ L’Olympia “. The tour lasted 4 weeks and ended in October 2017. With the need of doing patriotic songs for his country, Hakim released a single in February 2018 named “Abou El Regoula “ which reached within a week 3 million youtube hits. Hakim is currently working on an album with his own blend of styles as well as some ballads which is due to be released in the late 2018. “What’s great about Hakim is his infectious energy, vocally and rhythmically–with an undeniable joi de vivre pouring out of each track. Hakim is the real deal!”
Afro-Pop- NPR- Banning Eyre