AraabMuzik is something of an enigma. He’s managed to entice worlds as disparate as New York hip hop, dance festival crowds and the Pitchforkians. He’s worked with Dipset for years, crafting some of their most grimy bangers. He’s played alongside just about every major American dance act in the past six months at festivals across the country. The trance sampling Electronic Dream, an extension of the Dipset Trance Party mixtapes, was one of the most innovative albums that’s come out in quite some time. Besides the now ubiquitous drum patterns, I doubt anyone would guess that the guy who produced “Streetz Tonight” also worked behind the boards on “Salute”. His virtually unmatched production dexterity in the pop realm is what got him on festival stages, but his work on them has catapulted him into a higher realm of popularity. Utilizing his background as a drummer, Araab attacks two MPC’s on stage with remarkable aplomb. Most have seen the videos, but it’s quite a spectacle in person. That’s the issue with it though, it’s a spectacle.
I’ve seen Araab twice now and honestly, it gets boring after 20 minutes or so. After that 20 minute point, the show settles into a malaise of snares, hi hats and mediocre dubstep. Now this isn’t a rant against the ills of “brostep” or anything of that sort. I can enjoy some Nero or Rusko just as much as the next guy if I’m in the right mind state. But by the time Araab had worked in the fourth straight Skrillex song, he looked like a caricature up there, pecking away at the MPC pads. My issue with his set is mostly due to song selection. For god sakes, how do you only play one track off of Electronic Dream? But his MPC work gets old too. He’s not so much crafting beats, new or old, on stage as he is fuxing around with percussion over them. It’s a novelty. Breathtaking for 15 minutes. Trite and monotonous by 20.
That being said, the majority of the crowd remained enthused for the 45 minute runtime despite the fairly early start (5:40). Dressed in camo head to toe, he remained intensely focused on the pads in front of him, rarely looking up to see the crowd in front. He’s not much of a performer by his looks (he might be 5′ 6″), but he makes up for it by doing far more than just about any other DJ out there. Maybe I’m just a hater and Araab’s set is the greatest thing since the introduction of the airhorn into DJ sets. With his production chops though, I have faith that he can improve his live set into something more complete. Step off the Skrillex throttle for quick sec. Take a breath and maybe I won’t look like this in minute 40.