ABOUT HAKIM JAMAL
'Welcome to the world of Hakim Jamal’s evolved silky grooves from the ’70s, augmented by a vivid complex instrumentation and glamorous female vocals. Currently #1 in the JazzWorld and LA Funk charts, these psychedlic mashups of 1970s Soul (and accompanying trippy videos) will take you to another planet, reaching a climax of luscious enigmatic sonicscapes travelled by hypnotic sensual grooves. Extended arrangements and propulsive funky basslines just add to the intensity and mystique of this exotic land inhabited by languorous rhythms. Music that will please both your ears and your soul.’ - Stefan Bociacia, JazzWorld Quest
“That's some seriously soulful feel-good lounge/nightclub music right there. Can't help but feel the influence of Curtis Mayfield's work there, among a few others.”
Da Silva and Lino, Music Producers for Universal, Sony, Warners - LinkedIn
English musician Paul Wheatcroft, previously signed to Big Life/Polygram and published by Universal Music Publishing, toured the UK & Europe with TV appearances and some chart success with the band Ashley & Jackson. Band was part of the ‘Madchester’ scene in the 1990s and band members/crew included members of A Certain Ratio, Happy Mondays, New Order. Played the Cities In The Park festival with a lineup which also included Bill Nelson (BeBop Deluxe) and Denise Johnson (Primal Scream.) Toured with Jamiroquai, Brand New Heavies, Public Enemy and Adamski/Seal. Paul has also worked with an eclectic collection of musicians including Richard H. Kirk, Gerard Presencer, Jako Peake and was managed by now-Island Records US supremo Darcus Beese (later manager of Amy Winehouse.) Paul was Darcus’ first signing for Big Life. After a turbulent 2000s he quit the music industry to form a film company and label TalkingHead TV, which won a Royal Television Society award and Best International Documentary in 2018 for 'They Shall Not Grow Old.’
The pseudonym Hakim Jamal was first adopted by American activist Allen Donaldson, who was a cousin of Malcolm X and later became an associate of Michael X. Hakim Abdullah Jamal (March 28, 1931 – May 1, 1973) wrote From the Dead Level, a memoir of his life and memories of Malcolm X. Jamal was a ladies’ man as well as a political animal and he became romantically involved with several high-profile stars of the time, notably the great film actress Jean Seberg. Paul adopted the name for recording purposes in 2019. The black struggle is a major issue in Hakim’s work as you will see.
The idea for the first album ’Not Too Busy To Hate’ came partly from accidental timing (the BLM movement coming to prominence in the first part of 2020) and also because Paul has long been inspired by black artists who took on social themes (e.g Gil Scott-Heron, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye.) The album is grounded in the style of those artists. Paul had written and recorded some tracks in previous years and added new ones as the theme developed, the lyrics in particular being reflective of contemporary issues and news stories. The title is a Black Panthers slogan. Standout jazz tracks, probably ‘Weary Blues,’ inspired by the poetry of Langston Hughes, and ’10 Point Program’ featuring the words of Bobby Seale. Also ’Shoulda Been There,’ a kind of Chi-Lites for the millennium, recorded in 1994 with the help of the Stereo MCs. https://soundcloud.com/paul-wheatcroft/sets/hakim-jamal-not-too-busy-to
The second album ’The Soul Of Hakim Jamal,’ was less overtly political and more concerned with human stories, some real and some fictional; from Nina Simone to a so-called ‘bum' encountered on a street in NYC to a high-society reporter in the 1950s. The link between the characters is that they have ’soul’ - a quality Paul feels is missing to an extent in both contemporary music and society. The album covers a range of styles from jazz to nu-soul to funk and disco. Standout jazz tracks, probably ’Seen Better Days,’ a live track for Dutch Radio, containing a bitter social commentary based on the life of boxer Sonny Liston; and ‘Midnight Earl’ after the 1950’s New York society reporter, Earl Wilson. https://soundcloud.com/paul-wheatcroft/sets/soul-of-mixes
The 3rd album, 'In My Mind' was the most ambitious, far reaching, darkest and most complex of Hakim’s work to date. It mirrors the work of Isaac Hayes in the 1970s and takes Hakim’s music to a new and fascinating place. 4 months in the making, this is an album for people who love to be carried away by what they listen to. Enjoy in the tub or the car with a fat one by your side. File under Jazz/Jazz-Funk/Funk/Trip-Hop/Psychedelic Rock/Chillout. Warning: these tracks are LONG. Favourite track, ‘Interplanetary,’ a kind of 'Space Odyssey' meets ‘Bitches Brew’ in Isaac’s bedroom. Go figure. https://soundcloud.com/paul-wheatcroft/sets/in-my-mind
The 4th album, ‘U Come Thru' reflects Hakim's interest in traditional black music and he felt the time was right to re-appraise and musically investigate the genres of Blues and Gospel. There are 8 tracks on the album and each of them is a modern reworking of either a Southern Baptist hymn or a traditional Blues song. The vibe is a kind of mashup of styles, trying to link the secular Blues medium with the religious Gospel one. Yet as with 'In My Mind' both styles are set against stripped-down hip-hop beats and jazzy figures. The aim is to use an 8-track style approach to limit the number of instruments and give room to the vocals. Features Pastors Nina Hill, Shelly Davis and Robert Welch. Standout tracks ‘King Jesus’ - Sonny Boy Williamson goes to a Baptist revival meeting. Go figure again. https://soundcloud.com/paul-wheatcroft/sets/u-come-thru
The 5th album is a departure - 'UNTITLED’ is in collaboration with up and coming Hip-Hop producer 2-03 - a departure from Hakim's 70s-influenced material and a return to the hip-hop style which characterised the early material by Ashley and Jackson. However, the sound is darker, harder and the lyrical content unstinting and angry. It tells the story of a period in time,1993, in which a wave of political turmoil in the US gave rise to an angrier, darker sound in Hip-Hop, epitomised by music of The Wu Tang Clan in particular. A time in which Paul personally began to descend into a different and more dangerous lifestyle. A lot of the material is quasi-autobiographical. It’s called 'Untitled' as a commentary on the thousands of small psychodramas which happen unnoticed daily within inner-city culture; and as a reference to the thousands of unknown victims of crime and despair, whose stories go untold. Standout track ‘Domino Music.' https://soundcloud.com/paul-wheatcroft/sets/untitled
'20 GOLDEN GREATS' is the title of the forthcoming limited-edition vinyl album by Hakim Jamal/Paul Ashley. It's a retrospective, covering a near-40-year career in music making and contains material from each era of Paul's work. There are two re-recordings of songs made with Mark Brydon of Moloko for the FON label in 1986, which became demos for CBS shortly after Paul embarked on a solo career. There are three songs which sample and rework Ashley and Jackson songs from the 1990s, featuring musicians such as Martin Moscrop of A Certain Ratio, Gerard Presencer, Denise Johnson, The Stereo MCs and World Of Twist. The rest of the material comprises the best of Hakim's albums to date, including the Zapp-esque 'AlphabetCity' and 'Fly As The Next Guy’.' This will be a limited edition vinyl release in late Spring 2022 and was mastered by Alex Wharton at Abbey Road Studios. Standout track: ’Song For A Black Woman,’ a tribute to departed friend Denise and also a riff on Nina Simone’s ‘Little Girl Blue.’ https://soundcloud.com/paul-wheatcroft/sets/20-golden-greats/s-l1wp2rgcrRR?si=4b6a23e4cffd484ea7b51f6530d9ed47&utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing
Meanwhile, in late 2021 Hakim has released ‘When You Are Who You Are’. The title comes from a Gil Scott-Heron track on 'Pieces Of A Man,' the album being an initial inspiration for music which, we think, remains true to its 70s roots but like all Hakim albums, includes a modern-tech twist. Featuring the vocals of Adjua, Sula Mae and Leo Wood, as well as Paul himself, it ranges from house to scat jazz and contains two tracks which add to Paul’s ‘straight ahead’ jazz work, ‘Think I’ll Call It A Day’ and ‘Talking Book,’ which experiments with time changes and Brazilian rhythms. https://soundcloud.com/paul-wheatcroft/sets/when-you-are-who-you-are
The album released in Spring 2022 was called 'LA Night' and is inspired by Sadao Watanabe, Yasuko Agawa et al., the iconic Japanese jazz-funk musicians of the 1980s. This album is undoubtedly the most polished to date and has already been receiving plaudits for its incredible, smooth and sophisticated production. https://hakimjamal.bandcamp.com/album/la-night
HAKIM'S 9TH ALBUM, 'IN BLUE' WAS RELEASED IN SEPTEMBER 2022. IT'S INFLUENCED BY ONE OF PAUL'S VERY EARLY LOVES, DUB REGGAE, AND FEATURES A HOST OF JAMAICAN VOCAL ARTISTS IN WHAT LOOKS TO BE HIS MOST SUCCESSFUL SET TO DATE.