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If someone in the middle of a group of people discussing classic electro tracks suddenly blurted out, "It's tiiiiiiiiiime!" or "Just feel it!" in a quasi-cyborg voice, odds are everyone in that group would instantly know what that person was going on about. They might not know the title of the song or the artist behind it, however; "Al Naafiysh (The Soul)" is the title, and Hashim is the artist. Like Man Parrish's "Hip-Hop Be Bop," Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock," Cybotron's "Clear," and Newcleus' "Jam on It," "Al Naafiysh (The Soul)" is an exemplary slice of early-'80s electro-funk. Had it been titled "It's Time," there's no denying that it would be wider recognized as such.
Hashim was the work of Jerry Calliste Jr.. He became involved with music as a teenager; he was DJ'ing at the age of 12, and in the early '80s, while still a teenager, he promoted parties. Just a little later on, his graffiti work on a banner for Tommy Boy helped him attain a part-time gig doing custodial work at that label's offices. Having taught himself how to play keyboard on a cheap Casio, he produced "Al Naafiysh" and released it with the help of Aldo and Amado Marin. 99's Ed Bahlman initially wanted to release the single, but Calliste negotiated a deal with Aldo Marin, who was starting a label called Cutting. "Al Naafiysh" became Cutting's first release in November of 1983, and Calliste became the label's vice president. Thanks in great part to Hashim's popularity and his in-house production work, the label became one of the most prominent dance independents in the U.S., with releases from 2 in a Room ("Wiggle It"), Nitro Deluxe, and Masters at Work sustaining its heft.
Calliste eventually left Cutting and continued working as a promoter. He also went on to start Bassmint Music, an online label and shop based in Ohio. Sporadically, he continued to work on his own music. Throughout the years, his tracks have been sampled many times over. Tommy Boy, the same label that said no to releasing "Al Naafiysh" originally, included the song on their definitive Perfect Beats series in 1995. ~ Andy Kellman
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