In an interview with The Creators Project last year, AraabMUZIK himself said: “I wouldn’t be where I’m at now if it wasn’t for the Youtube clips.” The Internet is responsible for letting us hear hundreds of new musicians every single day, but with those Araab clips, you could also see that talent in action. A whole bunch of people (1.3 million and counting to be exact) have lost their shit over a clip of him going absolutely beserk on an Akai MPC to the point where his index fingers are at serious risk of spontaneous combustion, and since then Abraham Orellana’s rise to fame has been on auto-pilot. Despite plans for another album and a collaborative project with A$AP Rocky in the works, the Rhode Island wizard has somehow found the time to drop a brand new, 20-track mixtape, For Professional Use Only.
With his first proper release, Electronic Dream, Araab found a niche within the hip-hop beat scene by incorporating elements of techno into his productions – rhythmic, airy synth pads, abrasive, upbeat melodies and strong female vocal lines – resulting in an album that was powerful, unique and most of all brave. With For Professional Use Only, the techno elements have been stripped back, the focus this time being primarily on more traditional hip-hop production. You wouldn’t think that upon listening to the opening track “This For The Ones Who Care” though, a hammering dubstep track (just admit it, it is dubstep) designed to ruffle you up before you get deep into the rest of the mixtape.
The hip-hop influences become far more apparent later on; “Getting 2 The Point” sounds like an instrumental that didn’t quite make it onto Gucci Mane’s Trap God 2 tape, “AraabStyles” and its haunting synth line is screaming out for a rapper to hop on it, “Y.N.R.E” already has a rapper on it in the form of A$AP Twelvyy (featured on the Lord$ Never Worry mixtape) and the rather tongue-in-cheek “I Can Show You” loops a crazy trumpet sample and some freaky vocals. The sheer energy in Araab’s productions has become something of a trademark by now, and there’s no track of his that showcases this more so than “Runway Bass”, with even more of that headache-inducing bass and some particularly belligerent MPC work.
But, of course, Araab is only a mere human being (although sometimes when he’s on-stage I have my doubts), and there’s a rare glimpse of fragility on this mixtape in the form of “Beauty”, a lush, jazzy, Rhodes-laden beat that samples the track “Perfection” by Submotion Orchestra and also features on Fabulous’ mixtape Soul Tape 2. And whilst we’re on the subject of versatility, the techno elements aren’t completely dead and gone, either; “Turn Tha Tide” is some of his most ecstatic work ever with some sharp synth work, and tracks such as “World Is Lost” and “Heaven” perfectly capture the euphoria associated with the genre.
For Professional Use Only is a tape full of great, well-crafted beats (“This For The Ones Who Care”, “Beauty” and “G Riding” being personal favorites). And if there isn’t already a rapper on each of them, expect there to be at some point very soon indeed. However, my quip with AraabMUZIK is the fact that his selling point is watching him live, pummeling an MPC with minimal effort, and you just don’t get that same feeling you first felt upon watching those Youtube clips when listening to his music on record. Maybe he should release all his albums on DVDs so we have to watch him perform each track instead of just listening to it. Or, failing that, we could all just go see him live. Yeah, let’s do that.