Steve Aoki has gone trap—sorta. His new album Kolony definitely deviates from the pulsating EDM soundtrack he established with his previous Neon Future studio albums.
His fourth record, just released July 21, offers plenty of hip-hop-flavored collaborations with the likes of Migos, Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz, Wale and more. But it’s not a mash-up record; Aoki recently explained to Rolling Stone that his musical approach was intentionally altered for Kolony after spending some serious study time with Lil Uzi Vert, the Philadelphia artist who shows up on “Been Ballin.”
“My process changed in that session, because it wasn’t about the big drop, because it wasn’t about the EDM,” Aoki said. “It was about finding a section to allow him to be [himself]. My job in the studio was to give him that landscape.”
Aoki got some essential assists from Yellow Claw, DVBBS, Bad Royale and Ricky Remedy in building those landscapes, then turned his other collaborators loose with the lyrics. Lead single “Night Call” is clearly a departure for the evolving producer, who drops a heavy beat for Migos and Lil Yachty to play with via their heavily processed vocals.
And just when you think Aoki has gone all-in on trap, introspective album closer “Thank You Very Much” (featuring Sonny Digital) reminds you that he has plenty more surprises left up his sleeve. “Energy is by far the most important element that surpasses trends, cultures, genres, styles,” he told RS. “When a hip-hop artist goes hard at EDC everyone wants to be a part of that. It might not be your shtick or sound, but you can do something that can be a part of that.”