In a feat of dexterity and some serious hand-eye-ear coordination, beat-maker Abraham Orellana, better known as AraabMUZIK, gives a live performance to marvel at with his hands moving at the speed of light.
The Rhode Island native has whipped-up beat after beat for rappers including Jadakiss, Busta Rhymes and Cam’ron, even venturing outside of his hip hop comfort zone with a trance/dance album entitled Electronic Dreams released earlier this year. Without even breaking a sweat, he perplexes the senses and lets his fingers do the talking, employing his weapon of choice: the Akai MPC drum machine. After his YouTube videos went viral, cult rap crew The Diplomats came calling and the rest is hip hop history. Down in the basement of The Hoxton in Toronto, i-D online chats with AraabMUZIK about how he became the MVP of the MPC…
Were you self-taught on the MPC? Yeah. It’s kind of like drumming but on pads so it’s kind of easy because I always had the rhythm with my hands. I was always tapping and making beats on desks in school and stuff like that. So putting that onto a machine was kind of easy for me.
Who influenced you musically growing up? I’ve always listened to a lot of producers. Swizz Beats, Dr. Dre, Alchemist, 9th Wonder, Hi-Tek, DJ Khalil, DJ Premier. Just a lot of instrumentals. I would just get inspired by their styles.
Why the MPC? You can pretty much do whatever you want on it. It’s not just a drum machine, you can load in samples and chop stuff up or whatever. You can hook it up to keyboards or all types of things. It’s just always been my thing. I fell in love with it ever since I got it when I was 16. I kind of perfected my skills.
What other things are you fast with your hands at? That’s about it. I’m not really into sports or video games, those types of things were never my cup of tea so that’s pretty much what I do all day.
And how much practice did it take for you to get as good as you are on the MPC? It took a lot of years. I got the MPC in 2006, so it definitely wasn’t an overnight thing, but I already had the skills and I was always on point with it. I’m just faster and more on-point now. I just kind of ironed a few things out.
You’ve worked with people like Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss, Cam’ron obviously. Who are some other artists you’d like to work with one day? Eminem, Lil’ Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Drake, the whole Young Money crew, Young Jeezy, a lot of the southern rappers out there. I also want to do some mainstream stuff, maybe Lady Gaga. I just want to do it all and switch it up because I like all types of music.
Whos’ your favourite producer right now? Right now? I don’t even know. Back then I had a lot but the game has changed. I can’t really say. I have favourites but I don’t have one particular.
Who’s in your top 3? DJ Kalil, Swizz Beats and Alchemist.
What projects do you have coming up right now? Dropping the sequel to the Electronic Dream album that I put out, it’s called Electronic Reality and I’m putting out another instrumental mixtape with J.Armz and that’s pretty much it.
AraabMUZIK performs at The City Arts & Music Project, London on 7th December.
Text: Hazel Ong
Photography: Paolo Azarraga