It’s hard to believe that, after so many years of hit singles making their way into the limelight of club culture, Steve Aoki is just now releasing his first-ever full-length album entitledWonderland. Wonderland is not only the figurative destination the album’s tracks will take your mind to, but quite literally pays homage to Aoki’s base camp, the street on which he lives and creates in Southern California.
Aoki’s tribute to Los Angeles through Wonderland goes far beyond his personal compositions, and salutes the creation, development and expansion of Aoki’s label, Dim Mak Records. Since 1996, Dim Mak and Aoki have broken artists such as Bloc Party, The Bloody Beetroots, Klaxons and The Gossip; and have carved out a piece of the globe for the Los Angeles underground music scene.
Aoki’s impact on the global music scene via Los Angeles doesn’t end with his label. Dim Mak is well known for weekly parties in the heart of Hollywood, and regularly draw some of the biggest artists in the world including Justice, Skrillex, Kid Cudi and Lady Gaga; who in turn draw enormous crowds.
Aoki’s presence on the global music circuit has amplified considerably over the last few years. As music festivals have become more prevalent in the lives of EDM enthusiast’s, Aoki’s involvement in said festivals has greatly increased. He consistently occupies stages as a headlining act at festivals such as Electric Daisy Carnival in Vegas and Ultra Music Festival in Miami. He also regularly travels internationally to be met by screaming fans and loyal followers.
Aoki’s upbeat party attitude combined with his creative genius makes him an exciting artist for fans to follow and a coveted producer for DJs to work with. His collaborations withAfrojack, Laidback Luke, Kid Cudi, Lil Jon, Blaqstarr and Wynter Gordon have not only produced some of the most popular tracks in the EDM world, but also have revolutionized EDM culture. His work blends Rap, Punk and Dance genres producing a unique and hypnotic sound.
Wonderland is a showcase of all of the above. It exemplifies his determination and hard work, and channels his dynamic personality on each track. It gives listeners insight into his life and his immense knowledge of music from multiple genres. Wonderland serves as a testament to Aoki’s past and foreshadow of things to come.
Wonderland’s track-by-track review:
Earthquakey People Feat. Rivers Cuomo
Earthquakey People gives listeners some insight into Aoki’s life before Electronic Music. He grew up in the punk scene and has since incorporated his roots into the electro tracks he produces today. Rivers Cuomo’s addition to the track adds a comfortable sound; perfect for an introduction to an album that is sure to elicit involuntary body rocking. It’s a little light on the electronic sound, but still fulfills all requirements for the dance floor.
Ladi Dadi ft. Wynter Gordon
Ladi Dadi will most likely be the biggest single from the album. The track, released just a few weeks ago, has already garnered immense popularity. With the occasional dubsteppy drops; steady bassline; regular, light synths; and Wynter Gordon’s mesmerizing vocals, the track is innately addictive. Listening to it the first time through, you really don’t know what to expect. It speeds up, slows down, drops out and comes back big. This track is going to heat up festival crowds without doubt.
Dangerous ft. Zuper Blahq
This is not Aoki’s first time collaborating with Zuper Blahq (aka will.i.am); any Aoki fan is sure to remember I’m in the House. Dangerous is not a typical Aoki electro track, nor is it typical in any other way. With crisp, spacey synths and auto-tuned vocals, the track has a darker, heavy hitting, cosmic sound. Its deep bass will wake the neighbors, while its repetitious synths will please your ears.
Come With Me (Deadmeat) ft. Polina Goudieva
The electronic music behind Polina Goudieva’s vocals is simple yet satisfying. The bass line is a hypnotic repetition broken up by spacey synths. It’s a late-night club banger; a track that you can lose yourself to on a dance floor amongst hundreds of people.
Emergency ft. Lil Jon and Chiddy Bang
Emergency is the first track on the album that gives listeners some insight into Aoki’s exceptional ability at blending rap and electronic genres. The track is more of a true rap song, care of Chiddy Bang’s lyrics with an electronic hook complemented by Lil’ Jon. In fact, the hook is much like the beginning of the hook on Turbulence, another collaboration between Lil’ Jon and Aoki, but without the heavy electronic club-banging drop.
Livin’ My Love ft. LMFAO and Nervo
Livin’ My Love is classic LMFAO. It has a bass-ey, electronic background with ‘gang of money’ fun LMFAO vocals about livin’ the good life. Nervo’s sexy, attitude-y vocals complement the addictive sound of LMFAO’s perfectly. It’s a track you can either bob or bang your head to.
Control Freak ft. Blaqstarr and My Name Is Kay
Control Freak slows it down a bit with a slower bass line and calmer synths. Blaqstarr’s quick vocals are a perfect contrast to the music, and Kay’s seductive vocals are an essential complement. Aoki’s inclusion of the bass guitar with a slowed down bass line gives the track an old school, yet nu-disco feel. It’s a good break from the electronic tracks that start the album.
Steve Jobs ft. Angger Dimas
This track pays tribute to a man who created hardware that revolutionized music production and DJing. The big-house sound that follows the video game synths almost sounds heavenly; but then it all drops out to a building bass line that brings you back to a fun gamey sound. The repetition of this series is interesting to say the least, and will most surely serve other DJs and producers as a base for future remixes. The tribute to Jobs is well warranted and a fitting gesture as the man is the reason for many of the things DJs can do today.
Heartbreaker ft. Lovefoxxx
Heartbreaker’s deep house intro is refreshing. After the immensely electronic track before it,Heartbreaker cleanses your ears and slowly sets you up for the rest of the album. It’s slowed down a bit with far less experimental synths and electro sounds. It has a low, steady bass line that supports Lovefoxxx’s soft (and occasionally echoed) vocals perfectly. It’s not something you’ll catch at a rave; but certainly something that listeners can get lost in. It wouldn’t be surprising if we saw a number of remixes of this track in the coming weeks.
Cudi the Kid ft. Kid Cudi and Travis Barker
The dream-like intro is typical of Cudi songs, but as the song progresses it is clear that Aoki didn’t have intentions of putting listeners to sleep. Immediately following the first chorus, Aoki drops a dirty, dubby line with a repetitive siren that considerably wakes up the track. Cudi’s chopped up vocals and Travis Barker’s heavy drums are the perfect complement to the more alive bass line. Imagine yourself doing a barrel roll through a wormhole with flashing lights and pulsating colors; that’s pretty much this track in a nutshell.
Ooh ft. Rob Roy
Ooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Ooh comes out of nowhere, but is a great follow-up to Cudi the Kid. The combination of a dubby sound and lyrics that sound like a combination of Outkast and Mickey Avalon is just plain wild. If you thought you heard it all, you were wrong. This electro-dub sound blended with a new age style of hyphy rhyming is unique and addictive; definitely something you can ghost-ride the whip to.
The Kids Will Have Their Say ft. Sick Boy with Former Members of The Exploited and Die Kreuzen
The Kids Will Have Their Say is a nod to Aoki’s punk rock roots. Although it has electronic elements, it would be more appropriately categorized as a hard-rock track suitable for mosh pits. The sound fits Aoki’s charismatic, no hold’s bar, stage diving mentality and is an essential and valuable insight into the mind of the artist.
Earthquakey People (The Sequel) ft. Rivers Cuomo
The remix of Earthquakey People is not only necessary but clearly shows Aoki’s creative ability. Aoki’s best talent is creating hypnotic electro compositions that put bodies on the dance floor and subwoofers to good use. This remastered version is a requirement on party playlists and would serve as a perfect introductory song for anyone just beginning to learn about Steve Aoki.
The album, which will be released under the flags of Dim Mak Records and Ultra Music on January 17, comes as Aoki begins his North America wide DEADMEAT Tour. It’s a sure bet that many of these tracks will find their way into Aoki’s sets, in addition to other DJs as 2012 kicks into high-gear. Expect festival set-lists from Aoki and colleagues to include at least one or two of these tracks so get to know them now.
Wonderland is available on iTunes today as part of an exclusive pre-release. The album (which costs $7.99 for digital download) includes three bonus tracks including hit tracksTurbulence and No Beef. Get it today – this album will prove to be one of the best of the year.