Nick Hakim: 5 Albums That Changed My Life

Nick Hakim: 5 Albums That Changed My Life

Nick Hakim’s debut full-length, Green Twins, makes a fool’s errand out of categorization or genre definitions.

What sounds to have emerged from a crystalline swamp, once stripped down and dried off, emits a sound too precise and measured for psychedelia, too fleeting and heady for soul. However, what does resonate with the listener (the quivering vocals, the sheen of guitar lines reigned in by hollow, plodding percussion) makes one wonder what influenced such an intricate record.

Luckily, TIDAL spoke to the source himself about the records along the way that culminated in such an intriguing debut.

 Robert Wyatt, Old Rottenhat

At this point, Robert Wyatt was paralyzed and he couldn’t [wholly] play the drums, [but] he played everything on this album by himself. I think the only kicks on the album are a drum machine, and it’s all snare and hi-hat; it’s very minimal. The chords and harmonies are amazing; the lyrics are great. His voice is so dope, it had such a big impression on me. I can go back to this album whenever.

Bad Brains, Black Dots

They were capable of so much and they knew it. My older brother first showed me this album when I was fourteen or fifteen, and I did not like it at first. Just thinking, ‘What the fuck?’ But, eventually, after hearing one of my favorite songs on it, ‘Why’d You Have to Go?’, I knew I loved them. They blended everything so well. They had their own sound.

They recorded in [producer] Don Zientara’s basement. You could hear his son in the background; it’s funny. They recorded it not so far outside of D.C., in Virginia.

There was a lot of music I liked before this, a lot of the same that made me so connected to R&B music, but it was interesting to feel how it really made me serious and open to different kinds of music on my own, outside of what I was interested in or what my friends listened to. I was hooked on everything else they did, but this was where they really caught me.

Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson, Winter in America

I love it so much. It still listen to it so much. I really think it is a masterpiece. There are a bunch of songs here that I think are perfect songs. ‘Song for Bobby Smith’ is one of the most beautiful songs I think I’ve ever heard.

He had such good concepts. My friend put me onto Gil Scott-Heron when I was in eleventh grade. I remember thinking The Revolution Will Not Be Televised sounded so crazy and interesting. I had a lot of friends involved in spoken word and poetry in D.C., we were writing all the time. People like him and Nikki Giovanni, just hearing and reading their stuff was always very important to that.

One of my mentors showed me this album, and it was recorded in Silver Spring, Maryland, in 1973. Everything Gil said, even in the liner notes, was very powerful. It really changed my life.

Milton Nascimento and Lô Borges, Clube de Esquina

This is such a crazy interpretation of rock & roll, jazz and crunchy classical music. It’s Beatles-y, these elaborate arrangements. It’s a beautiful album, the cover is beautiful. It’s kind of a full circle record for me; I’m so very aware of this voice and this style, I really connected with it.

Prince, For You

I remember Zo!, one of my mentors, who is in the The Foreign Exchange, playing this. He did a cover of ‘Crazy You’ on his album. I had no idea what it was, just listening to it for the first time, saying, ‘Who wrote this? Did you write this song? Who did this?’ and being told it was Prince. The more I learn about him and go back to this album, I love it that much more. Considering everything, his age and playing all of the instruments. He means a ton to me.

(Photo credit: Shervin Lainez)

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