Wonderland is the latest from Starranko. The prolific artist who has an impressive discography went through a lot of the same things everyone else did over the last couple of years. On Wonderland Starranko mentions the album is “Inspired by events triggered during the pandemic era I looked to create an album that could encapsulate what I was going through at that time and how I coped with things. Wonderland explores the pitfalls of escapism and the personal battles I faced during the pandemic.”
The album gets going with “Welcome to Wonderland (feat. Courtney)” and serves as a proper introduction to the experience. Musically, I was feeling a bit of early Kanye West on this song. I also have to give it up for Courtney who contributes to the hook. Starranko is in top form here. He sounds confident with his delivery as if he has arrived.
As much as I liked the opener, “We’re All Mad Here!” was wicked. The rhymes are tight and slick and the production is inventive. It’s an ever changing soundscape of instrumentation. The bass work here is very cool. It reminded me of something you might hear from Thundercat. This has a sweet breakdown as well. This song is a certified highlight .
“The Funk” is an appropriate name. This song combines ’70s disco and funk with a contemporary hip-hop sound. It’s undeniably a party song that will make you dance. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear this song in clubs, loft parties and the back of limos. “Rabbit Hole” is a darker song but also seems like it’s playful in some ways. It’s a got a deep beat. Starranko’s lyrics are on point. He sings “I’m out of control / I fell down the rabbit hole.”
“The Riddle” has one of the coolest sounding beats on the album. His rapping is relaxed here as if he doesn't have a care in the world. The music on “Bandz” got me amped. I loved the dynamic beat which combined with an exuberant vocal performance.
As the album progressed I was seriously impressed by the diversity that Starranko displayed. “America (feat. Natalie)” has fantastic hooks and also gets back into early Kanye West type territory. It also has a great message. “Demons” felt like a song you would spin on the early hours on a site out in the lounge while “Vibes” is melodic and organ infused displaying a unique vocal delivery. “Farewell, Wonderland” is the last song before an excerpt from an Alan Watts speech called “Nirvana.”
Starranko is in top form here and in my opinion this is his most refined release to date. Highly recommended.
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