Breakin’ In Space #9: Hashim – Primrose Path


We're going in deeeep this week on Breakin' in Space with a cut from Hashim (it means pulveriser or destroyer of evil in Arabic), the pseudonym for Jerry Calliste Jr, a Bronx-born electro producer. Hashim is best known for the seminal 1983 track 'Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)', the first release for the Cutting Records label, of which he was also the Veep. 'Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)' was Hashim’s calling card and quite right too: it’s a classic breakers anthem that has featured on countless electro compilations and still sounds innovative and cutting edge to this day. 

But I have always been drawn to the lesser-known 'Primrose Path'. Whereas 'Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)' ("It's TIIIIIIIIME!") was pure machine music, 'Primrose Path', its title taken from Shakespeare’s Hamlet (“Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads”), had a human heart, with instrumental backing from The Force adding a funked-up, live feel to the deep electro vibes. A fat rubber-band bassline and atmospheric guitar stabs combined with pumping 808 beats, haunting vocodered vocals and Hashim’s trademark melodic orchestral strings to create a wonderfully atmospheric piece of music. It's harder to pinpoint the influence of 'Primrose Path' than it is with 'Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)', but it was definitely way ahead of its time and still sounds incredible. It was included on Electro 11 (released in 1986), and later turned up on Dave Clarke’s belting 1996 X-Mix – Electro Boogie, alongside classic electro and techno tracks by UR, Aux 88 and Model 500. Hashim also made his mark as a producer on a number of other tracks, including the Imperial Brothers’ We Come to Rock (which I wrote about in the first BiS column). 

For such a gifted producer I’m always left with the feeling that Hashim didn’t leave the mark he could have done. He was hardly prolific, recording a handful of singles as a solo artist from 1983 to 1987, including the anthem for UK Fresh '86. He resurfaced in 2005 with an mp3 only release for his own company Bassmint Music, but that's it. Not exactly a vast body of work, but certainly a case of quality over quantity, and his reputation as a true electro pioneer will never be in doubt.