Meet AraabMUZIK And Watch Him Killing It In A Beat Battle
We recently met up with AraabMUZIK to talk about his live beatmaking craft on the MPC, but more so to see the kid in action. Speed is no object to Araab, and it assists him in doing what no other producer can. Playing full compositions live without the assistance of a backing track, Araab treats the MPC as an instrument and pushes the outer limits of what it’s capable of. Whether he’s at the head of a packed club or seated at a table in the studio, he gets the same fierce look on his face as he leans back and effortlessly jackhammers the 16 pads with his fingers in perfect time.
His prowess got Araab noticed by DukeDaGod, who brought him on as a producer, having him create beats for Dipset artists Cam’ron and Hell Rell, among others. Despite his hip-hop pedigree, Araab’s 2011 album Electronic Dream is a bold foray into bass music, repurposing anthemic club hits into hard-as-hell cut time bangers. With such a move, Araab shed predictability, insisting that he won’t be pigeonholed.
AraabMUZIK may be something of a household name today (if your household has an MPC sitting in the den), but it wasn’t long ago that he was on the beat battle circuit proving his mettle against other pad pushers. The internet is filled with relics of his recent come-up, captured moments when every person watching sees something beyond their expectations, raises their eyebrows, and mouths that single syllable of astonishment, “Damn.”
While he’s gone from being an internet sensation to a serious producer, it’s fun to revisit his days on the circuit through a rough handheld video of him straight up deconstructing his opponents.
The video above is of a battle in which AraabMUZIK takes down 8th Wundah, a fellow Rhode Island producer who’s definitely got some skill, but has his work cut out for him challenging Araab in a live setting. Let’s do a little play-by-play of this battle to catch all its best moments—the nerves, the intimidation, the challenges, and the rebuttals.
25 seconds in, we catch the epic beginning to this bout, with 8th Wundah off to a bit of a loose start—a misplaced hi-hat flare hurts his opening. But he manages to crunch out some semblance of a hot beat before marking the kill switch with the classic throat slash motion a minute and a half later.
Enter ArabMUZIK, shades on, triggering the base sample for the beat he’s about to launch into. Within a few patterns of the beat drop, he starts accelerating. Faster. Then even faster. The shades come off. Toward the end of the round, he starts to lose the tempo of the sample, but he’s going so fast that it goes by unnoticed as he recovers. Then, boom, the cell phone comes out—the ultimate “I could do this with one hand” move.
In a stance implying submission early in the game, 8th Wundah takes to crouching on the ground with his face mere inches over the pads of his MPC. The samples and drum sounds are pretty dope, but again he fumbles to stay in time, moving his arms in the tell-tale jerky motions of someone who’s never played the drums. At 3:47, possibly the most painful moment of the battle, with 8th Wundah’s MPC going silent, prompting him to throw his hands in the air and look at the crowd pleadingly. Then there’s one desperate glance at the camera.
AraabMUZIK’s on the phone again. It would be a lot less cool if he was getting a sales call from Verizon, so let’s just assume he’s talking to someone cool like Cam’ron, or Fonzie. Suddenly, the phone is a stylus he’s using to tap the MPC pads. And he goes crazy again. Every other phone in the room is out, taping and photographing him. He wins them over further by dropping a merengue beat and then dicing it up in his usual style. What a crowd pleaser.
8th returns with a slow groove, and though it’s tighter than his show in the previous round, it’s still feeble compared to Araab’s hands. The crowd is lukewarm but still supportive.
Araab returns, and it appears he’s freestyling it this round, sure of his win and down for some experimentation. He jumps around BPMs, shifting from boom bap to trill on a dime. Then he takes one hand off the pads and goes crazy with just the other. He’s the obvious winner.
In the pandemonium after the battle, the judges pass a ruling, and inexplicably, one of them gives it to 8th Wundah. Never trust a man with a ponytail under a baseball hat. In the end, the crowd has Araab’s back, and he gets the win, but it’s somehow called a close bout. What!?
AraabMUZIK is now way past the battle circuit and onto playing massive shows, including a couple of upcoming performances at Coachella. If you happen to be there, catch him at 5:50 PM on Sunday 4/15 and Sunday 4/22 in the Mojave tent.