Fresh off a captivating performance at this year’s globalFEST in NYC, the ‘Godfather of Gnawa’ is back with a video for the first single from his latest album, Unity. On the song, Hassan Hakmoun continues his signature approach to the Moroccan genre, updating and transforming the traditional elements of the gnawa style by adding American rock’n’roll, funk and blues elements. The title track features not only the traditional gimbri (a 3 stringed camel skinned lute) and krabes (metalic castanets), but electric guitar and drum kit. The core of “Unity” is its driving, looping groove, a combined rhythmic and melodic pattern that constantly churns and builds. Layers of call and response are laid on top, with Hakmoun’s powerful vocals taking center stage.
The video for “Unity” displays the full gamut of Hakmoun’s musical identity. We see the contrasts of a modern recording studio and the tight alleyways and market stalls of Marrakesh. We are taken onto the stages of large concert halls and small rooms for intimate gnawa performances. The constant throughout is Hassan Hakmoun himself, navigating these diverse scenes with ease.
Watch the video for “Unity” here:
Unity drops on April 12th. Be sure to grab it. For those wanting some background on Moroccan gnawa, we covered this musical style extensively here.