8Tracks Review: ‘5OKI’ EP by Steve Aoki

Steve Aoki’s new EP 5OKI dropped April 27.  I’m only getting to it now because I’m pretty clueless about EDM.


  1. Anthem (featuring Kriss Kiss); Hardwell and Steve Aoki (2:43)
  2. Mayhem; Steve Aoki & Quintino (2:37)
  3. It’s Time (featuring Bruce Buffer); Steve Aoki & Laidback Luke (3:18)
  4. Pika Pika; Steve Aoki & LOOPERS (2:24)
  5. Moshi Moshi (featuring Mama Aoki); Steve Aoki & Vini Vici (4:17)


If my look-back at the Jets last week didn’t convict me as being too old to talk about current music, this confession probably will: I don’t get electronic dance music.  It pains me to say it, too, because I taught high-schoolers for sixteen years, and could usually find some musical connection with my students, some common ground on which we could establish good, casual communication.  Even if I didn’t like what they liked, I got it well enough to talk about it with them.  I remember what it was like to be fifteen and to be obsessed with the music in my Walkman earbuds.

I don’t dislike most of the EDM I’ve listened to.  As a tech-head (and tech teacher), the computer aspects of the music’s creation intrigue me, but beyond cool beats and interesting mixes, I don’t find much to latch onto.  Which is weird because I once listened to a lengthy radio interview with Aoki on a sports talk radio show and he was engaging and funny and fascinating.

I’ve spun 5OKI seven times and I like it.  I can even identify each track by its opening beats without looking at the tracklist.  The opening track, “Anthem,” sounds like the music they play when they introduce the starting lineups at NBA games: “Aaaaaaaaand now, yooooooooooooooour Miami Heeeeeeeeeeeeat!” There’s a nice little bit of dubstep wobble in this track too.

“It’s Time” has a similar feel; it even has voice samples (or vocal tracks; I can’t tell!) clearly meant to mimic the hype music before a boxing match or basketball game.

“Pika Pika” is my favorite because it has interesting sounds I don’t often hear in dance music, including something sounding like bamboo being hit with other bamboo, then run through a couple of effects.  It also has a moment where the groove reminds me of 80s Genesis (the band).

I’m utterly unequipped to give this any kind of rating, but I like it even if I don’t think I get it.  Check out the “Pika Pika” video here and let me know what you think.


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8Tracks Review: ‘Island Blooms’ EP by Gingee

Gingee released her new EP Island Blooms last month, right at the spring equinox.

Coco Water

According to her Facebook bio, Gingee (Marjorie Light) is a DJ, producer and vocalist from Los Angeles. DJing and producing since 2003, she is known for her unique take on electronic music, which blends elements of global bass, world music, and hip hop. Her work is a reflection of the sounds and cultures she has been exposed to growing up in Los Angeles as well as the musical world of her ancestors and beyond.

From the percussive rhythms of instruments such as the Filipino kulintang, kettle drum, and cowbells, to synths, turntables, and rapping, she seeks to speak the language of music and poetry and use it to communicate a message of empowerment and celebration.  She has performed at Coachella, South by Southwest, Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture, Calentura, and Magic Garage, an art and music festival she founded.


Despite growing up in Waipahu and living for 20 years in Kalihi (a reference for my Hawaii peeps; they’re two of the most Filipino neighborhoods on Oahu), I can’t pretend I know a darned thing about Filipino music, either contemporary or ancient.  Still, Gingee’s grooves sound tribal, hurricane-beaten, humid, and warm.  She will remind you of M.I.A. for sure, which already makes her pretty cool, but Gingee’s definitely got some sounds and beats all her own.

I’m sharing this photo, which I’ve stolen from her FB, because it looks like the kulintang is part of her live show, something that has to be unique in her genre, right?  I mean, I’ve seen video of EDM DJs doing their thing, and they never play instruments live, let alone a set of gongs from ancient Southeast Asian cultures.

The first track, “Coco Water,” is fun and celebratory, and it will make you want to get up and shake your thing, if you’re the type to shake your thing.  I’m not, but I did find this some really nice music to listen to while writing.  It’s the highlight of the three-song EP, but all the songs are groovy.

The highlight for me begins at the 1:15 mark in the second track, “Ilha.”  Four measures of a long siren sound kick in.  They’re followed by the same tone, but broken up in a quick staccato, then followed again similarly, but even more rapid-fire, then again, this time not broken up, but faded back and folded over itself, in kind of a multi-voiced chorus at 1:30.

I didn’t comparison-shop.  It’s $2.97 for the whole EP on Amazon, so I didn’t waste any time and just purchased it.

See the Sun

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also:  Gingee played Coachella in weekend 1 and is back for more in weekend 2, beginning this evening.  She writes, “I’m playing 4 sets this week at Coachella!  If you’re around come thru w your amazing self!

  • Thursday: 9:15 pm- 10:30 pm at the dome in camping center lot 8 (THE afterparty spot in case u didnt know)
  • Friday: Sahara stage 12:00 pm-1:35 pm
  • Saturday: 10 am-2pm at the arts and crafts tent in camping center lot 8 (come make dope crafts/swag for FREE!)
  • Sunday: 10 am-2 pm arts and crafts tent (shared set w @djfrancescaharding)”

I’ll update this post with video if any gets posted!

The Continual Evolution of Asian American Youth Culture

One of the (few) benefits of having teenagers is getting a glimpse of what youth culture is like these days.  Given that I myself am decades removed from that time period, I like to compare what I see and hear from them to how it was when I was young.  Since my kids and I all grew up in communities full of Asian Americans (unlike John), I have some perspective on how Asian American youth culture has evolved.  I was amused to watch the above video by the Fung Brothers on the evolution of Asian American youth culture.  I found myself agreeing with some of their observations, while questioning others.

Continue reading “The Continual Evolution of Asian American Youth Culture”