The Diplomats were once New York's most subversive hip-hop crew. With members including the gleefully antisocial Cam'ron, the group brandished pink fur coats and rhymed about drinking sake on Osaka Bay. Their brittle, desolate tracks were full of psychedelic pomp and gauche non sequiturs. But since hitting their commercial peak about eight years ago, Dipset has self-imploded. Today, Cam's chief collaborator is a 21-year-old Rhode Island kid known professionally as araabMuzik. Ham-fisted moniker aside, araabMuzik possesses unbelievable musicianship, with a gift for clean, arpeggio-sweeping melodies and stately repetition that far surpasses Kode9 or Clams Casino. Just as the Boards of Canada project has more than an inkling of despair in their work, araabMuzik's compositions tap into the doe-eyed emptiness of nightclub culture. Tracks like "Streetz Tonight," "Let It Go," and "Feelin' So Good" are full of bleeding MPCs and sappy Euro-pop vocals. "Free Spirit," with its distant, helium-spiked synthesizers, would sound at home on an Edward Maya album. In fact, every note on araabMuzik's 2011 album, Electronic Dream, sounds manufactured for heavy rotation in Bucharest's Lipscani District. It may be an unusual sound, but street-tested American rappers are eating this stuff up. Vado, Jadakiss, Busta Rhymes, and Noreaga are among araabMuzik's growing list of clients.
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