There is no jungle like the jungle of your own mind. That’s the sentiment in Brooklyn neo soul artist Nick Hakim’s latest single, ‘QADIR,’ written partly about the death of his closest friend Qadir Imhotep West at the age of 25.
From the beginning, ‘QADIR’ moves like a jaguar’s walk. Acoustic drums, punchy and profound, as tight as Khruangbin’s grooves, drape the track in a cloak of wet reverb.
“Exorcisms, burn it out of my body…” sings Hakim smoothly. It’s a feeling that’s prevalent throughout the song. It’s a song of pain, of a man trying to work something out. But, like most of Hakim’s work, it’s also soothing and cathartically meditative.
That’s the thing about Nick Hakim. You can’t listen, really listen, and not reflect upon something. Something within yourself, from the past, of a time and place, or of the world around you as it is now.
At 7 minutes and 32 seconds, the song is an odyssey. Layers build upon layers, voices upon voices, representing internal and external thoughts and struggles.
Some of the voices are like animalistic reverberations in forest caves, others are soul singers and synths, still others are pitch modulations of Hakim’s own voice. All represent sounds in his mind and in society, their echos and delays continuously falling upon each other as the song progresses, culminating in something climactic, indecipherable, powerful.
Hakim’s sound, while contemporary, is firmly rooted in ‘70s R&B and Soul. It’s the kind of music you feel Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield would have put on and enjoyed, unwound with, reflected upon.
“There seems to be a complexity to being kind, to your space, to your temple, to your neighbors who see the changes,” says Hakim.
It’s a message about the necessity of kindness, and, as he sings this, I can’t help but see Marvin nod in Hakim’s direction.