On Tuesday night (June 27), EDM producer and DJ extraordinaire, Steve Aoki, held an intimate listening session for his new album Kolony at New York City’s Premier Studios.
For Aoki, Kolony finds the producer experimenting outside of his comfort zone and exploring the untapped waters of hip-hop. After flirting with the idea for several years, he locked in some of his favorite artists including 2 Chainz, Gucci Mane, Migos, Lil Yachty, and Lil Uzi Vert for his latest endeavor. First, he tantalized fans with the trap-tinged record “Night Call” featuring Migos and Lil’ Yachty. Then, he upped the ante by securing DVBBS and 2 Chainz for their beastly collaboration “Without U.” With Aoki being a keen believer in the power of collaborations, his new album, Kolony — set to drop July 21 — brings together some of hip-hop’s brightest stars under one roof.
Billboard sat down with Aoki as he broke down some of his favorite tracks from Kolony, explaining what made each track memorable and why 2 Chainz is a legend in his eyes.
“Night Call” Featuring Migos & Lil Yachty
One Word to Describe the Song: “Atlanta”
“It’s the whole Migos and Lil Yachty. It’s their turf. The beat I did in my home, but we got the ideas in Atlanta. The vocals, the tracking session was in Atlanta.”
“Been Balling” Featuring Lil Uzi Vert
One Word to Describe the Song: “Los Angeles”
“We did the record in my studio in downtown Los Angeles. It was one of my most memorable sessions that I’ve ever done because I spent so much time with one artist in one week. That was one of the ideas that came out of that session that turned into a song. It’s incredible, the hooks and the ideas that come out of Lil Uzi Vert. He’s one of my favorite artists to work with. It’s incredible what comes out of his head. I’ve never seen anything like that.”
“Lit” Featuring Gucci Mane & T-Pain
One Word to Describe the Song: “Lit”
“It’s literally lit! They both brought in an energy to it in their own way that made it extra lit. The song is instrumentally a strong record as an EDM record. T-Pain just took it to the next level with his hook in his classic T-Pain way. Guwop, he’s King Guwop. As far as the music video, he’s sitting on the throne because he’s the king. So I got the king on there.”
“4,000,000” Featuring Ma$e
One Word to Describe the Song: “Classic”
“Ma$e is classic. He’s heritage. I wanted to get a heritage artist on there, someone like a veteran. I was lucky that I was able to get him. I couldn’t f–king believe that I was able to get him to jump on one of my songs. Maybe, [another word] is pressure. I felt a lot of pressure of getting that song to that place. I’m very happy with it now, but it took years to craft it to that place.
I was sitting on that record for over two years. I changed the beat entirely, even all the drums. I started from scratch over and over again. I wanted the record to sound good underneath him. I also wanted it to be a forward thinking song that a lot of people would talk about. I feel like it has that energy now. It’s unique. If he’s going to come back strong on a record, now I feel confident about this production.”
“Without U” Featuring 2 Chainz & DVBBS
One Word to Describe the Song: “Legend”
“2 Chainz is a legend. He’s always been a legend. I’ve always respected him and he just has that legendary voice. You can tell it’s him from the first line. With most of the artists, you can’t tell. He has that boss status.”
Song that will grab people’s attention most: “Night Call”
I think “Night Call” is gonna impact the most because you can listen to it in any environment. It’s a summer jam, for sure. You can listen to it in the car, in your bedroom, pre-gaming, at a club, or any environment. There’s so much personality on the song because Migos is triple personalities. Then, you have Yachty. You have so much personality all over the record.
Pre-order Kolony here.