June 27, 2011

Sach O can’t believe this shit.

We should have seen this coming. Last year’s “Dipset Trance party” mixtape may have sounded like an Onion headline but it nevertheless existed, daring you to listen to it for a laugh before realizing that no one was trying to be funny. Electronic Dream is even more straight faced: an instrumental Hip-Hop mixtape composed entirely out of Trance samples that brings together music for drugged up euro-trash and drugged up asshole rappers like never before. The crazy thing is that it works.

I have no idea where Dipset producer Araabmuzik’s affinity for this stuff comes from: maybe he genuinely loves the euphoric melodies and electronic textures, maybe he’s just a dedicated crate digger or maybe he just knows something we don’t but give him props for pulling off what would seem like a dicey concept. His secret lies in his drums: freeing Trance from the fist-pumping confines of four-on-the-floor rigidity, he actually makes these textures sound…Hip-Hop. Of course this isn’t unprecedented given the amount of Guetta-pop shitting on the radio and Lil Jon’s tendency towards lazer synths in the crunk era but no one’s ever been so upfront about using music from EDM’s cheesiest subgenre. I dare you not to cringe when the vocals come in on Golden Touch.

At its best though, Electronic Dream pushes the boundaries of what’s sonically acceptable in Hip-Hop the good old-fashioned way: by finding new records to flip. Thank God for that as it was starting to seem like Hip-Hop production was stuck in a holding position with most emcees content to rock now-standard rap tropes, whether Southern or New Yitty. Though nominally routed in the crunk sound of latter-day Dipset, the tape is full of ideas that would have been too weird or wild just a few years ago. Check the distorted build up and vocal on Underground stream, the proto-grime of the title track and the hazy ethereal chords of AT2: these are new ideas from the most unlikeliest of sources and if that ain’t Hip-Hop, I don’t know what is. Of course, it doesn’t ALWAYS work, the aforementioned Golden Touch pushes things too far and the Jersey Shore vibes on Lift Off have me wanting to punch a Guido but I’d rather hear these mad-science experiments gone wrong than another bunch of beats sampling 70s soul.

There have been two kinds of good Hip-Hop records this year: consensus building genre exercises (Raekwon, Big K.R.I.T) and mind fucking attempts to break the rules (Tyler, Spaceghostpurrp). Electronic Dream falls clearly in the later camp, which makes it a love/hate proposition – I personally think its great but can’t get through a single beat by Clams Casino, another new school producer Araab will inevitably be compared to. Your mileage may vary depending on your tolerance for electronic flourishes in your beats (and possibly your ecstasy intake) but give the kid credit: this sounds much, much better than anything called  “trance-hop” ever should.

MP3: Araabmuzik – Underground Stream

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