By this time, Hakim was teaching himself to program drum machines, which put him in even greater demand as a pop, rock, and R&B session musician, and landed him work with Madonna. Meanwhile, he continued his work as a jazz fusion drummer; just a partial list of his credits over the '80s and '90s includes work with Miles Davis, David Sanborn, Roy Ayers, George Benson, Joe Sample, John Scofield, Lee Ritenour, and Najee. In 1989, Hakim released his first solo album, Rhythm Deep, which occupied a middle ground between jazz, R&B, and pop, and gave him a chance to showcase his vocal abilities as well. The results earned Hakim a Grammy nomination.
During the '90s, Hakim continued to improve his skills in the realm of electronic percussion, keeping abreast of new technologies and thereby keeping his session career in good stead. He performed on albums by Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, and Jewel, among other big time pop stars, and initially kept his jazz work going as well, though it had tapered off by the middle of the decade. In 2000, Hakim released his second solo album, The Groovesmith, which took a musical approach similar to his first effort and was produced on his own Macintosh ProTools system. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi