In the 60s and 70s, Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana reinvented the studio and live presence of the electric guitar, both intensely virtuosic talents that pulled from their respective cultures rich musical history into a vibrant, modern genre, changing the game. That last sentence may one day describe The Diplomats in-house producer Abraham Orellana, better known as AraabMuzik. Orellanas 2011 debut, Electronic Dream, bridged gaps among various strains of rap and EDM plus the outskirts of indie-ville. It was an opening salvo from a producer with Hendrix or Santana-like promise, both as producer and artist.
If mashing buttons is the new shredding strings and Orellana is blasting off to the top of the rap game, think of Instrumental University as a momentary look back before lift off. It collects Araabs past mixtape and album beats. Its for completists, mostly, who want all these tracks in one place that isnt YouTube. The lead-off on Instrumental is also a frequent kick-off to Araabs live sets: his beat for 1,2,3 Grind (from Lloyd Banks The Cold Corner 2). The tracks Halloween-derived string pizzicato and echoing piano evoke the spooky spectre of Michael Myers. Okay Y’all is a highlight of Instrumental, amping the record up with sweet, clicky crunk.
Whats most impressive about Araab is that some of these beats outdistance the respective MCs that tried to ride them. Its a rare feat but one that Araab seems to pull off consistently. Rubber Band Stacks, Araabs take on Bangladesh’s A Milli beat, brings that foot race to a photo finish, though, and that tension is present even without Busta Rhymes equally fast chatter or Araabs fellow Diplomats CamRon and Vados laconic flow.
Yet unless youre a straight fiend for Araabs sound, the almost ballad-like instrumental of Ryde on da Regular might bore you. The piano-driven beat works better ridden by a capable MC like Styles P off his latest, 2011s Master of Ceremonies. But Araab ends strong with Salute, the beat that put his name on many a hip-hop heads blog. Its a clanging banger with garbled sirens, as if warning the rap game of his coming, or perhaps the final T-minus before lift off. Between this and his forthcoming Electronic Reality, Araabs repping hard for Cam, Vado, and The Diplomats crew. Salute!
Essential Tracks: Salute, Rubber Band Stacks, and Okay Yall