Rachid: Prototype

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.