AraabMuzik made his name crafting grimey New York beats for the likes of Cam’Ron, Jadakiss, Busta Rhymes, and A$AP Mob, but on his second LP Dream World, the veteran producer’s sound is flecked with EDM and trap influences, which is inspired but doesn’t do much to suit his strenghts.
Making a compelling hip-hop instrumental record is difficult, particularly if the artist doesn't rely heavily on samples, so it's understandable why AraabMuzik decides to go the electronic route frequently on Dream World. He isn't as adept at creating richly textured beats like Clams Casino, and his tracks don't have dancefloor flare like Kaytranada.
Still, there's a reason AraabMuzik made his bones as a peddler of gritty East Coast rap, and the best moments of Dream World come when he revels in that sound. Opener "Adonis" is perhaps the album's best cut, a perfect mixture of ominous drums and choir vocals that conjurs up images of a bleak Northeast winter. "Faded" is also strong, an early 2000s throwback that you could easily picture fitting snuggly as a deep cut on a Jay-Z or 50 Cent record.
The more electronic tracks don't fare quite as well, often coming off a bit dated and generic. After spending the brunt of his career providing the backdrop for bully rap, there isn't a ton of nuance to AraabMuzik's production, so songs like "Take Me Higher" kind of blare on for a few minutes. Baauer collaboration "Señor Breakfast" makes good use of space and has well textured drums, but it too gets cumbersome despite being barely three minutes long.
"Stadium House" sounds like something you'd hear in a club on a discount spring break trip, and the drop on "Try Me" could've easily been pulled from any 2011 dubstep song.
AraabMuzik is a talented producer, but his sound is ultimately too brash to make the jump to electronic music. He's the kind of artist who should be making feature heavy rap records where his beats are the stars, like Hi-Tek or 9th Wonder, not trying to alter what he does best.
Dream World is fine, but save for one or two tracks there's little on it that couldn't be called dispensible.