Afrojack Pulls Ahead of EDM
Named the ninth biggest DJ in 2013 by DJ Mag, Nick Van de Wall, stage name Afrojack, has successfully followed up with a huge album release this past May. But Afrojack did not just stick to his typical dirty dutch style, high-pitch bleepage sound. Instead, he decided to follow his roots back to when he began playing the piano at the age of five. His decision to shift gears results from the harsh criticism that Electronic Dance Music has received. Afrojack told Billboard magazine in an interview before his album release, “I don’t want to be an EDM artist - I want to make something everybody can be proud of.” The recent oversaturation of the genre has grouped many of these artists together as lazy, talentless guys with laptops, a stereotype that he does not want to be affiliated with.
Following in the footsteps of fellow producers such as Avicii and grammy winning artist Zedd, Afrojack decided to team up with a number of notable vocalists and songwriters on his new album Forget the World. The first single, released about seven months prior to the album, featured vocalist Spree Wilson, on a funky and extremely catchy, acoustic guitar-driven anthem. “The Spark” took Afrojack fans by surprise as his first purely progressive house track, with a melody destined for radio play.
The second single released earlier this year, a brilliantly titled track that references both the DJ’s towering 6’9 appearance and his exponentially growing fame, features singer-songwriter Wrabel. The song is a strong lyrical play on insecurity and undeserving notoriety, with an undertone of love. The song peaked at #29 on Billboard’s Top 40.
As a recent EDM favorite, Afrojack recruited singer-songwriter Matthew Koma to co-pilot two of his tracks. Koma helped Zedd write the grammy award-winning song “Clarity” and has worked with EDM giants like Tiesto, Hardwell, Alesso and Sebastian Ingrosso. The first song, “illuminate,” begins wi
th a clean euphoric, guitar riff that leads into a matching lead melody. Koma sings “Go on and shine on” into the drop, demanding that his audience take pride in their individuality and embrace themselves. In the second verse, the lines “Make your sickness a cure, and advance what you believe in,” sticks to the idea of embracing your dreams and filtering out weaknesses.
“Keep Our Love Alive,” also featuring Koma, carries more of a dark undertone. A seemingly desparate Koma sings, “How do we keep our love alive? Why does something so good feel so damn hard tonight?” The drop carries a similarly brutal and emotional scarring melody, one that spells out despair.
The sixth track on the record, “Dynamite” features Snoop Dogg. On the track, the Dogg revisits his original gangsta rap appeal, as he sings about drinking, smoking and getting “turnt up.” A revitalizing collaboration for the likes of Afrojack, as he produced a 140bpm trap banger and for the re-reincarted Snoop Dogg from his spiritual reggae alias, Snoop Lion.
On the track “Three Strikes,” Afrojack pulls a rock influence while working with British songwriter Jack McManus. Towards the end of the track, Afrojack’s production skills are evident, as he brilliantly side chains a distorted guitar solo. This energy-filled head-banger will please rock and EDM fans alike.
The album staged an array of musical talent and solidified Afrojack’s organic musicianship. Other features on Forget the World include Sting, Wiz Khalifa and a fun remix to Thirty Seconds to Mars’ “Do or Die.”
Afrojack’s statement has been made and his departure from EDM has just begun.