Most people know Steve Aoki as one of the most popular party icons of the 2010s, a superstar EDM DJ who's done massively popular remixes of Kid Cudi tracks and positioned himself as one of the most prominent DJ's of the last decade. Although he collaborated with Linkin Park and was hailed by Korn's Jonathan Davis, he's still a normie megastar loved by frat guys nationwide, but as it turns out, Aoki actually has supreme taste in hardcore punk.
Long before he became an internationally-recognized party persona, the now-44-year-old was a hardcore kid who went deep into the genre's underground history — way beyond the entry-level bands like Minor Threat and Bad Brains.
In a new interview with Louder, Aoki named his nine favorite hardcore albums of all time, ranging from Gorilla Biscuits' Start Today and Refused's The Shape of Punk to Come, to crucial records by metalcore pioneers Unbroken, stadium crust savants Tragedy, Japanese screamo legends Envy, and more obscure 90s bands like Downcast and Shotmaker.
"Fugazi turned me on to a whole new thing," Aoki said of their record, 13 Songs. "My introduction to hardcore was Inside Out, Gorilla Biscuits, Shelter — the Revelation Records-era of hardcore — but Fugazi introduced me to this new progressive rock sound in the hardcore world. It opened me up to the Dischord-era, with Rites of Spring, etc, but it also opened me up to Sunny Day Real Estate, Christie Front Drive, Mineral and this emo that I got obsessed with. I have to give a lot of credit to Fugazi for pulling me into that space."
"Actually, I'm an Ian MacKaye super-fan," he continued. "A groupie, everything he touches, everything he does, Egg Hunt to Minor Threat to Embrace... fucking love Embrace! There's about ten people in music where I just follow everything they do, and Ian MacKaye is definitely one of those ten people."
The breadth of his knowledge is genuinely bewildering for a guy who makes his living playing candy-coated bass drops in front of tens of thousands of drugged-out EDM kids. Check out Aoki's nine favorite hardcore records below, and read everything he had to say about them here.
Refused - The Shape of Punk to Come
Fugazi - 13 Songs
Gorilla Biscuits - Start Today
Unbroken - Life. Love. Regret.
Downcast - Downcast
Tragedy - Tragedy
Envy - All the Footprints You've Ever Left and the Fear Expecting Ahead
Shotmaker - The Crayon Club
Born Against - Nine Patriotic Battle Hymns For Children