Pitchfork Music Festival 2012, live review | AraabMuzik
"You are now listening to araabMUZIK." It's a promo drop heard all across the hotly-tipped producer's debut solo album, Electronic Dream, and it triumphantly announced his arrival on the main stage at Pitchfork Fest this afternoon. Without further ado, he launched into a highly involved feat of sample maneuvering. Sporting a snakeskin ball cap flipped backwards, araabMUZIK put his head down and set to work, literally tapping out almost every drum hit, snare tap, hand clap and bass thud heard in his hourlong set—and he never missed a beat.
Maybe it was the heat, but many in the crowd stood by awestruck, staring at the Jumbotron and trying to wrap their minds around the feat of hip-hop beat-making wizardry taking place. Some people looked generally dumbfounded as the studio don banged out dubstep-worthy rhythms, his hands ablur. There were no half-baked beats here. Cycling through trap, crunk, bass and even drum 'n' bass with his flipped version of Skream's "Listenin' To Records On My Wall," this dude could even teach Kanye a thing or two.
A focused technician, he barely looked up to acknowledge the crowd, so engrossed was he in the task at hand. It was one of the single coolest feats of electronic-music athleticism I've seen, the equivalent of witnessing a b-boy or DJ battle—two things that have all but died out from hip-hop culture. Deep in his meditation, he rolled into his runaway hit, "Streetz Tonight," showing off his penchant for sampling progressive house and trance (in this particular case, Kaskade) and repurposing them for potent headnod music. Even though, strictly speaking, his music isn't house, techno or even dubstep, araabMUZIK still represented the closest the fest got to the current EDM hype all weekend.
The MPC marksman has been touring steadily with acts like dubstep and moombahton star Dillon Francis, and his time in that world has left a mark. Oscillating between the rap world with reworks of party faves like "Jump" by Kris Kross and rave ragers like Flux Pavilion's "I Can't Stop" and Damian Marley's "Welcome to Jamrock" mashed up with Skrillex, the man's hands never stopped moving as he cued one sample after another. By the end, I probably wasn't the only one thinking araabMUZIK might just be more of a machine than his principal instrument.