Turn up! Get lucky! Drop the bass!
Whether beloved or reviled, these three terms have dominated EDM’s mainstream rise in the past five years. Thus, it makes perfect sense that at the apex of the movement’s moment in the son, that Dim Mak Records boss Steve Aoki would pull together notorious bass king Borgore, trap music deity Waka Flocka Flame, America’s favorite hipster Pharrell Williams and a few other friends to tour the country and “Aokify America.”
What exactly does “Aokifying America” mean? Well, until he got the bright idea to combine the best parts of 80s shock comic Gallagher sending projectile bits of food (in Aoki’s case enormous sheet cakes) into a suspecting audience, it was all about Aoki having one of the most progressive - yet somehow right on time - takes on big-room and stadium ready hard house music. If the producer has become a superstar in the last half-decade, he likely has a release or two on Aoki’s Los Angeles-based Dim Mak label, or, he’s remixed a few of his tracks.
Pharrell Williams’ inclusion on this tour makes sense. The rise of EDM would have never happened without the hipsters, the bold indie DJs (and their fanatical party-going and forward thinking friends) who decided to play European house music tracks that fill cavernous venues in spaces comparatively the size of a thimble. In so many ways this was all inspired by Pharrell - whether with N.E.R.D. or by himself crafting or performing on tracks that erred on the side of quirky atmospherics or heart-wrenchingly smooth rhythm and blues. As well, Williams was the first in his generation to embrace both form and function, finding the romantic space where sound design and fashion synergize.
Steve Aoki is documenting every stop along the way of this ambitious tour
There are people who blame Borgore for Miley Cyrus “going crazy.” Yes, in November 2012 Hannah Montana and the devil that sits on bass music’s shoulder collaborated on “Decisions,” which for a segment of the population was the first time that they realized the mainstream potential of “evil EDM.” Aside from reveling in his notoriety Borgore (born Asaf Borger in Tel Aviv, Israel) is doing something very similar to Aoki and Dim Mak with his Buygore label, as 2013 has seen Ookay, Kennedy Jones and Bare break through to a new level of praise within the EDM community.
As for Flocka? We wouldn’t even be having any of these conversations without ratchet Southern rap music. Since the days of Diplo and Low Budget’s Hollertronix party at a Ukranian Hall in Philadelphia, crunk Southern rap has been at the forefront of the rise of EDM. The voice of so many of iconic producer Lex Luger’s hard anthems like “Hard in the Paint,” “Grove Street Party” and “Round of Applause,” Waka’s rise as an affiliate of southern trap legend Gucci Mane’s 1017 Brick Squad crew reached hyper speed in 2011, and now, on the edge of 2014 - with Waka proclaiming himself the “King of Trap EDM,” it’s entirely possible that he will be getting into the studio with Aoki (and an all-star team of others) to create the ultimate album blending the combustible elements of this bizarre era.
Today, at Merriweather Post Pavillion, Steve Aoki, alongside Pharrell Williams, Waka Flocka Flame, Borgore, Garmiani and Kryoman will make the absurd seem commonplace and create incredible moments that showcase that what was once progressive is now normal, and that the future is in the midst of being defined.