When diminutive producer and MPC master AraabMuzik finally walked into his Manhattan recording studio last night (July 2), it was with a limp and a grimace. The Dipset affiliate—who was shot in an attempted robbery in his home state of Rhode Island in May—has been on the mend for the past few months, and while he returned to live performing at Bonnaroo a few weeks ago, the effects of the incident still ring clear. It also might not have helped that he was exhausted from being in the studio until 10 a.m. the night before, working on a new project that is still in its infancy, but that will rely a lot less on samples and a lot more on original instrumentation than any of his previous work. Ahead of the release of his The Remixes: Vol. 1 album, he spoke to XXL about Kid Cudi, working on the upcoming Slaughterhouse album, a rumored collaboration with A$AP Rocky, and his working relationship with Cam’ron.—Dan Rys (@danrys)
XXL: Tell me about the remix album. How long have you been working on that?
AraabMuzik: I’ve been working on the remix album [since] like the beginning of Spring. I picked out a list of artists who let me choose from their catalog and pick a song or whatever. I did a whole bunch of it in the studio in New York. They just had me do whatever, put my twist on it, remix the track how I felt.
What were you looking for in the tracks that you picked?
Just something catchy, something that’s my style of music. The artists we had was pretty dope. This project is dope to be a part of, the remixes, it’s cool.
What is it about Kid Cudi’s music that appealed to you?
It’s different. That’s how I am too, that different sound. I can’t really be following everyone else’s steps, because that’s how music is now—it’s like following the leader. I’m just doing my own thing, carving my own lane. Putting a different spin on things. I’m pretty much [trying] to make people forget about the original songs, have them like my track so much that they don’t even listen to the original anymore. That’s pretty much what I’m trying to do.
You’re working on the Slaughterhouse record, too, right? How’s that going?
Yeah it’s really good. Still tightening up, same process. It’s more of a collaborative album this time, having everybody in the studio sharing ideas, collaborating with each other. Interacting with artists instead of just picking beats from emails or whatever it is. They personally picked the producers that they wanted to work with. So it’s dope, they just want to keep it real. They want to keep that hip-hop sound. ‘Cause obviously the industry right now is down South, 808s, and they’re like the only group that’s holding on to the lyricism and all that stuff.
Do you feel like being in the studio with them brings out the best in you?
When you’re with the artist in person, it always brings more ideas and stuff, and you just hear more that you wouldn’t hear, because they’re there spitting, you know what I’m saying? You can kind of switch things up.
Last year, you were talking about working with A$AP Rocky on a joint project, A$VPMUZIK.
Yeah, that was something that I wouldn’t mind doing, but it was something that just didn’t work out at the time, obviously. But I don’t know. It’s something that could still be done in the future. I’m not gonna say it’s not something that can’t be done. In time, I guess. It’s all about timing. You don’t want to rush it or just come out of nowhere or something like that. It was just ideas back in forth.
How was your Bonnaroo performance?
That was one of the craziest performances because it was my comeback show. The crowd was so hyped up. It was dope. It was my first Bonnaroo performance, I’d never performed there before. I knew it was going to be one of my biggest shows this year, so I was definitely excited to do that. Then I did EDC, and I got E-Zoo coming up.
How’s the road to recovery been?
I’m recovering good. I’m still recording and I’ve been around it, so it’s been good. Show-wise [it's been slow], but music-wise I got the album, I got a couple things. Pretty much just working, that’s how I came up. I want to keep it balanced, don’t want to do one more than the other. It’s cool to be back in the studio and working, working with different artists, getting into the zone. That’s what the fans want, give the fans content.
How do you look at working with electronic tracks rather than hip-hop?
It’s dope, because you get to do a lot of things, it’s just world music, you can perform that stuff all over the world. Once this album drops it’s gonna be good, with these dope artists. I dropped the For Professional Use Only mixtape, I’m not gonna say it’s all electronic, but it’s a mixture.
Cam’ron’s new mixtape is coming out tomorrow, did you do any work on that?
I don’t know. He has so many tracks that I probably can be on there. A lot of the fans expect it, but there’s a lot of variants of fake people trying to have that sound, and a lot of people probably ask me like, ‘Oh did you do this one?’ [Laughs] Nah, I haven’t.
Have you guys been working together at all in the past year or so, you and Cam?
The last thing we did was the Gangsta Grillz mixtape. After that, we haven’t been working.