Just a month or two ago, the homie put me onto an artist who goes by the name Lil Aaron Japan, and although he might live out in Houston at the moment, his roots are dug deep in Milwaukee and that’s the place he calls home over everything else. The song that was my introduction to him was called “Thinkin” and it was a Detroit styled banger that was very reminiscent of a Baby Smoove or Veeze type of flow, instrumental, and overall aesthetic, but little did I know that it was going to lead me to more music that is even more unique and incredible than I could’ve ever expected.
This incredibility is shown off in his latest project entitled Who Would Ever Thought, a 7 song, almost 13-minute-long mixtape featuring production from T4 and GabyBatBouta that gives a sample size of all the insane and out-of-the-box styles that Aaron can bring to life. Opening up with “Scotty Pippen”, an inspiring piano melody is combined with some airy, lighthearted synths. As he talks, his vocals are soft and angelic, yet it almost sounds like he is putting the most minimalistic amount of effort into his delivery as the autotune compliments his almost whispered lyrics in such an intriguing way.
This leads us into “Scorin’”, a guitar-driven song where Aaron’s words are slightly more drawn out to the point where he’s almost full-on singing, although his enthusiasm is still kept to a minimum like in the previous track. The third track is “Thinkin”, the song that I already went into heavy detail about when it first dropped, so if you’re curious about my thoughts, you can read them here. At the midway point, we’re greeted by “Wock, Pt. 2”. Although I’m unfamiliar with the first part of this track, I definitely vibe with the second part’s optimistic overtones that Aaron juxtaposes with some literally effortless bars. In this cut, it almost feels like he literally was given a microphone as he was waking up from a long night’s sleep, and although my description might not make it sound impressive, there’s this natural sound to his delivery that makes it feel like his lyrics just come naturally to him and roll off of his tongue.
“Lemonade” has a similar Detroit-inspired vibe to the instrumental, but Aaron takes this opportunity to put his own spin on things, almost humming his words as they ooze out of his throat in a hoarse yet artistically impressive fashion. The penultimate track is called “The One”, a blithe, casual ballad that uses an instrumental unlike anything else you’ll hear on this project, yet it’s so cheerful and upbeat that it almost immediately elevated my mood unlike most songs can usually accomplish for me. Finally, he ends things with the tape’s shortest song “Basic T’s”, and although his words are more mumbled and under annunciated than any other song on the project, he almost uses his voice as an instrument more than anything else, showing one more versatile skill that he had locked away in his vault of talents before wrapping the entire mixtape up nicely.
In all honesty, up until this project I had heard “Thinkin” and that was just about it. I wasn’t avoiding him by any means, but I guess I was just waiting for the right time to get that wake-up call, and this mixtape was undeniably it. The overtones of Detroit/Flint-inspired influences are clear, yet Aaron makes sure to provide his own spin on the consistently growing style, and this inventiveness simply can’t go unnoticed. It’s not like you’re necessarily going to play this project at a club and see everyone go nuts, but whether you’re cruising around your city, smoking with your friends, or just wanting to sit back and vibe, this is legitimately the perfect soundtrack I could even think of. Lil Aaron Japan might still be on the come-up, but Who Would Ever Thought is just additional evidence as to why he’s going to blow up sooner than later, so make sure to familiarize yourself with the blossoming up and comer as soon as you possibly can.