Dominican-Guatemalan producer araabMUZIK released his latest album last week, For Professional Use Only 2, a follow-up to the mixtape of the same name. The release’s 24 instrumentals revolve around bridging trap’s distinctive percussion and basslines with the melodies, vocal samples, and hooks of progressive trance of the late ’90s and early 2000’s– a sound that eventually paved the way for what’s known today as EDM.
Unsurprisingly, more mainstream EDM influences are present, too; “Don’t Pretend 1.5” features an effective sample choice, having removed cheesy fist-pumping drops to morph meaningless poppy lyrics into dark, reverbed afterthoughts. The layering of this now-moody sample sits behind trilled snares, 808 bass, and heartstring-pulling synth pads to create a sound nothing short of badass. There’s also some indication araabMUZIK is checking out his contemporaries; in “Black Out,” the piano hook has a very similar vibe to productions by Fade to Mind artists Nguzunguzu and Kingdom.
AraabMUZIK can also construct some hypnotic instrumentals– on “The Hope,” he pulls together a very old school feel through horns and soul vocal samples, which works in a way that was lacking in “Life,” which sounds more like he left-over, backlogged demo than a complete instrumental. Of the entire album, it was the hardest to get into without feeling tired of the hook halfway through.
The album has a very diverse sample bank but maintains an uneasy cohesiveness, challenging the listener to connect the dots sonically. Araabmuzik differentiates himself as a hip-hop producer from the likes of, say, DJ Mustard, whose production method seems sterile, methodical, and with minimal variation. Araabmuzik’s productions feel more raw and haphazardly, which is a result of his production method of working on an MPC on the fly to build tracks.
Like his previous releases, Instrumental University and For Professional Use 1, the record would be better described as a mixtape rather than a complete album, as it lacks the careful curation that his Electronic Dream had back in 2011. Regardless, this release highlights Araabmuzik’s ability to build a variety of styles and beats without sounding generic or played out; it’s dark, moody experimental hip hop for the headphone enthusiast.