Posted by Scott Willats
Mr. Steve Aoki (a.k.a.) Kid Millionaire is one of the pioneers of what has become the EDM boom. The founder of Dim Mak Records has circled the world, headlining at all of the biggest events with his distinctive brand of party music. Previously known more for his stage presence, Aoki has developed into one of the better producers in EDM over the past 4 years. I was eager to find out what sounds he’s been playing with lately and how it’s all panned out. So here’s my take on his brand new album, Wonderland.
Earthquakey People feat. Rivers Cuomo
For all intents and purposes, the title tack of the album. This is the Aoki you expect: heavy, distorted bass that invades your speakers with a classic buildup. Rivers Cuomo is a bit of a weird choice for this beat, though. Don’t get me wrong: I have every Weezer album. But his voice doesn’t translate as well on an electro track made for the big room as it does on a rock anthem played for stadiums. I like the lyrics; though meant for partying and partying only, they flow well. Still …I can’t put my finger on it, but something is missing. At least, it is until you check out the Dillon Francis remix. Huge!
Ladi Dadi feat. Wynter Gordon
There’s no scientific basis for this, but it’s a theory I believe in: track number two on a CD is always the artist’s favourite song. Can’t tell you why — just that on album after album, track two is the keeper. Aoki bears this out with “Ladi Dadi” — the song bangs. A radio-friendly track that lays down the perfect background for vocals from the much-in-demand Wynter Gordon. And the video is wicked!
Dangerous feat. Zuper Blahq
Some artists just have great chemistry — and that’s the case with Aoki and The Black Eyed Peas front man will.i.am. Performing as his alter ego, Zuper Blahq, will delivers the the robotic lyrics that make this tune … dangerous. The track is a banger that keeps up a steady pace until the 2:30 mark — at which point it just goes h.a.m!
Come With Me (Deadmeat) feat. Polina Goudieva
For those who love airy-sounding big-room tunes, this one’s for you. Polina’s vocals leap straight off a track that could easily be mistaken for Benny Benassi or Afrojack, and immediately hook you in. For myself, I love the parts focused on the pads rather than those focused on the beats. Either way, you have to agree it’s Polina’s presence that makes this track special.
Emergency feat. Lil Jon & Chiddy Bang
This is why you have to love Aoki. An album this diverse was always going to have some predictable elements and some wildly unpredictable ones. But on the same song? Anybody who knows anything about Aoki could have guessed that Lil Jon would turn up on this album — but Chiddy Bang? Not so much. For those who haven’t already heard of Chiddy Bang, it’s time to get familiar. The Philly duo consists of Chiddy, the world record holder for longest rap (nine hours!) and Xaphoon Jones, one of the most creative and innovative producers in the game. They bless this tune with some heavy content. Aoki saves one of his better beats for the duo, and Chiddy goes innnnnnn on the beat and eats the track alive. Add some of Lil Jon’s trademark screaming, and you’ve got a hit. I think you’ll be surprised how much you like this track. My personal favourite.
Living My Love feat. LMFAO & Nervo
It’s an LMFAO world that we’re living in. Right now they’ve got the Midas touch, and you can hear it on this track. Nervo deserves mention because it’s as much her track as theirs — but there’s just something about Redfoo and Skyblu. When you hear their voices on a tune, it immediately feels like something you’ve always known. And I think that’s a good thing. Expect this to be the next single off the album.
Control Peak feat. BlaqStarr & Kay
Bring the vibes, bring the soul. The acoustic bass is the first thing you’ll notice, lending a welcome organic feel to this soulful track. The showstopper here is Kay; when that second verse starts it doesn’t matter where you are — your head’s gonna start bobbing and your hips are gonna to wiggle a little. This tune will probably be overlooked by most EDM junkies, but it might just be the most insightful track on the album.
Steve Jobs feat Angger Dimas
Hard, heavy and hectic. Nuff said!
Heartbreaker feat. LoveFoxx
A track made for long bus rides. This has an immediate, soundtrack-y feel and plays the part just right. LoveFoxx is the perfect choice to quarterback — her airy vocals are just what’s needed to make this song worthy of the most overused word in the English language: epic. I can see this one being huge in Europe.
Cudi the Kid feat. Kid Cudi & Travis Barker
Kid Cudi must count his lucky stars at night. Not to say he doesn’t deserve all the fame and recognition, but I’ve rarely seen an artist win such open acceptance across multiple genres. He’s an EDM hero, a rap phenomenon, an acclaimed actor and a rock star. One this track he’s accompanied by another musician who has received a similarly open-armed reception: Travis Barker. The song? Good, but not great.
Ooh feat. Robert Raimon Roy
I love this track. Funky, fly and fresh. Triple R delivers some heavy vocals, and Aoki outdoes himself on the beat, nailing it right on the head. This beat is so ill – that’s the only description that does it justice.
“I’m about it allllllll….”
The Kids Will Have Their Say feat. Sick Boy
Hmmm. If you read this blog you know I hate when artists stick rigidly to just one genre. The best part of music is experimentation. That said, sometimes you can go a little too far. For those who are strictly EDM fans (dubstep, house, progressive, minimal, trance etc.), I’m afraid you won’t like this one. Steve goes apes**t on a heavy metal ballad. You be the judge.
Earthquakey People (The Sequel)
To my mind, this version is light years better than the original, and I think he must’ve known that. Sometimes an artist will have five different versions of the same song, and end up just gambling on which one will resonate with the crowd. Sometimes I wish they’d just release all five and let the fans decide. Kudos to you, Steve, for experimenting with that idea!
THE FINAL WORD
For someone like me who loved with the classic hip-hop mixtape format — where you basically put your name on the disc and release other people’s tunes — I must say I really enjoy the style of Wonderland. It showcases some amazing beats inspired and created by Aoki. But what I love best is that every song feels like an experiment. Some work well, and others not so much — but every track is going for something different, and for that I give the creator my utmost respect. This album is proof that Aoki has come a long way.