[9 July 2013]
The distance between electronic music and hip-hop isn’t big. You could argue that in some cases a rap instrumental falls under the electronic music tag. So for AraabMUZIK, who made a name for himself after working with the Diplomats during the latter half of the 2000s, the initial instinct is to label his solo instrumental releases as beat tapes. While it wouldn’t be wrong to call The Remixes, Vol. One a beat tape, it’s really structured much like an EDM album.
The Remixes, Vol. One is an album of AraabMUZIK remixing previously released songs. Not only his own, he also puts his own twist on the work of other artists. Araab does a nice job of going in a different direction when remixing a track. For example, he takes “Cudi the Kid” by Steve Aoki, Kid Cudi, and Travis Barker, and switches it up enough that only faint pieces of the original remain. If it had been titled differently, it would be hard to tell what song Araab was even remixing.
“Cudi the Kid” is one of the better remixes on the album. It’s incredibly smooth, with a nice layering of drums, a laid back vibe, and a vocal sample that puts the finishing touches on the beat. When it comes to drums, AraabMUZIK is a mastermind. The MPC he can be seen holding on the cover isn’t just for show. He really knows how to work the thing. Whether or not the song comes out as a success, you can generally count on it having a strong rhythm with a beat that will get your head bobbing.
Araab does a little dabbling into dubstep on The Remixes, Vol. One. This is most notable on “Cinema”, his remix of the Skrillex track of the same title. While the signature drums are once again on point, the track as a whole doesn’t really come together. The aggressive synths and loud wubs feel out of place on this album. The dubstep influence is apparent on other remixes, too, and in most cases, less signs of dubstep showing is better.
Another major annoyance that you would think would be easy to overlook is the producer tag that is heard on every song. Hearing “you are now listening to AraabMUZIK” in an electronic female voice sticks out like a sore thumb. It doesn’t add anything to the music, and it took me out of the experience every time I heard the tag. I know whose album I’m listening to, I don’t need to be reminded of it every few minutes. I understand if a song is being played out of context and he wants to get his name out, but there should be an album version that spares the listener from constantly hearing that tag.
Overall, The Remixes, Vol. One is a very enjoyable project for a quick dose of some electronic infused instrumental hip-hop. There’s a little more dubstep than I would like, but it doesn’t show enough to hinder the experience. The album ends with a really lazy verse from Chase N Cashe that doesn’t exactly fit, and worst of all, you’re going to be reminded over and over again that “you are now listening to AraabMUZIK”. The music itself is good. It’s a solid collection of beats and it’s interesting to go back and see how Araab reworked a song from another artist in order to make it something original. Poor design choices, however small they may seem, hold this back from being as enjoyable to listen to as it could have been.