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Hakim's third Western outing, following hard in the footsteps of his live album, is definitely a mixed bag. The tracks rooted in his native Egyptian sha'bi, like "El Salam" and "El Kalam Da Kebir," sizzle, while "Ya' Maya" is a track that takes him to the next level, with its stunning fusion of sha'bi rhythms and Egyptian classical music under a lyrical tale of hidden homesickness. And "Ya Albi," co-produced by Machete and Narada Michael Walden, uses a near-reggae beat to bring together the voices of Hakim and merengue star Olga Tanon, with some thick bass and an excellent Spanish rap from Kemo of Delinquent Habits. So far so good -- and the majority of the record is excellent. The problem comes when Walden has sole control of the board. He has his schtick, and it works well for him. The problem is, it wasn't made for Hakim, making tracks like "Feelin' Good" and "Aho Aho" into lightweight froth that diminishes the overall impact of the record and ruins its overall feel and continuity. Hakim remains a rising star, but for his own sake he needs to stay away from Walden in future.

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