Q&A: araabMUZIK On His Influences, His Name, And Filling His Records With Crazy Beats
Innovation keeps culture moving forward. Some hungry kid will always figure out how to put a new spin on things his predecessors have already done.
Just ask araabMUZIK. He's still young, but his production track record is stronghe's worked on tracks by Tragedy Khadafi, 50 Cent and Vado, as well as the Dipsey reunion track "Salute." Relying heavy on electronics and hard, frantic drums, he has definitely captured a signature sound.
What's most interesting about this Providence native is his ability to use his MPC drum machine as an instrument in a live setting. After a YouTube clip of him manipulating the knobs and drum pads to produce on-the-spot beats surfaced in 2008, he's been booking live shows around the world.
Before stepping onstage at the Thompson LES last week, the Voice's pick for Best Producer In New York took a second out to discuss his background, his current projects and his future.
Tell us about how you got started with music.
Well, initially, I was a drummer. I picked up the drumsticks at a very young ageat three years old, actually. By the time I was six I got my own drum set. By 12, 13, I was producing tracks on my keyboard and with computer programs like Drum Station. Around the age of 15 I got my first MPC. It was the MPC 1000. Started banging on those pads and I've been doing it ever since.
It seems you were a musician since inception. Did you ever have any other goals outside of music? Did you ever want to rhyme?
Nah, not at all. I was always focused on the music and within music I was always focused on the production side. Honestly, I never really thought I'd be doing this for a living but something always kind of told me I would. I just didn't believe it entirely when I was young.
What made you start believing it?
When I met [Dipset A&R] Duke Da God. I went by the studio and played him some joints and he pretty much liked all of them, the whole CD of beats. See, I always took my time and made sure every single beat was hot on my beat CDs. A lot of up-and-coming producers and even established ones will have like five crazy beats out of a CD of 30. The other 25 will be trash. I don't rock like that. I don't want any filler tracks on my beat CDs, just heat.
Who are some of your influences as far as rap producers?
I listened to a lot of instrumentals of all genres but as far as rap I'd have to say Swiss Beatz, Dr. Dre, Pete Rock, Alchemist, 9th Wonder, Hi Tek, DJ Khalil... a lot of them influenced me. There's a few more that I'm forgetting. Really to me it's all about consistency. That's very important.
I feel that. How would you describe your sound?
Powerful music. That's it.
How'd you come up with your name? You're not Arabic, right?
No, I'm Dominican and Guatemalan. I came up with the name in 2001. Really, my man came up with it. He used to call me Arab. I just ran with it because I didn't really have a stage name at the time because I was just busy studying my craft cranking out beats. After a few years I added the "Muzik" to "Araab." I wanted something distinct and memorable. Like, "You're now listening to Araab Muzik."
Ha. True. So what are you working on now?
I've placed a few beats, but I've been on tour so much I've been focusing on that more. Plus I always like to play new beats on stage, so I have to produce new joints for my stage show. I do a lot of shows, so I'm constantly coming up with new beats. I tour so much I have two booking agents. I'm touring for the next two months. I'm hitting the UK soon. It's only when I have time to myself that I lock in the studio to make beats for other people. Most of the time I'm working on my live set.
Any upcoming or just-released projects you're on you'd like to mention?
I placed beats on a bunch of people's projects. I did "Shady Murder" for 50 Cent. I did something for Styles P on Master Of Ceremony called "Ride On The Regular." Let's see, Vado and Fab got a joint on Vado's new Slime Flu called "Ok Y'All." I got beats on Busta's joint, [and] The Lox joint coming out. Lots of stuff.
Do you have any of your own projects?
Me and J. Armz, who is the instrumental king, are putting out an instrumental joint with a lot of my beats called Instrumental University. I'm putting out part two to Electronic Dream called Electronic Reality. I'm just trying to have straight heat on there as usual. Also, Lex Luger and Me are teaming up but that's still in the making.
At this point a lot of people still don't know [me] so I'm just getting out there as much as possible. That's why I also want to work with Jeezy, Rick Ross, and Young Money, maybe T.I...
I'm sure they'll be shouting you out soon.