November 1998


Soul-ifying postmodern beatology is a challenge, one massive enough to daunt all but a hardy few. Virginia-based hip-hop producer Timbaland has gotten a lot of props for his work with Missy Elliott and Aaliyah, among others, while Tricky has adapted hip-hop's protean possibilities to his own quirky ends. But not even they have achieved the formidable synthesis singer Rachid displays on his stunning debut album, Prototype (Universal, UD 53114, 67:10). With one foot in Bristol and another in Harlem, Rachid comes across as a Terence Trent D'Arby for the abstract soul era. "And the Angel Comes" mixes a vocal chorus with Monk & Canatella-ish guitar textures. And "Charade"'s drum-n-bass-meets-Teddy Riley flips the script on R&B. Even when he ventures into relatively conventional territory, as on the lovely piano/organ flavored ballad "The One to Destroy Me" Rachid's wide ranging voice and well tempered songwriting skill combine for sonic trips far beyond the pale of conventional pop.

Originally published in November 1998
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