30 seconds into “Blush!,” the first track off Wonkachild’s debut album, Urkel 2.0, and it was undeniable: This kid will be famous.
He’s already well on his way. Those who have had the pleasure of seeing a live Wonkachild performance don’t soon forget the energy, passion, and tenacity the Kansas City, Missouri product brings to the stage each and every time. He dances. He writes. He sings. He rhymes. He produces. He’s created an incredibly marketable image of Elegant Funk: in a bow tie, argyle sweater, fedora, and of course Chuck Taylors, he’s equally comfortable charming the guests at a formal event as he is capable of turning said event out, having those same guests grooving on the dance floor in minutes.
Oh, and did I mention he’s ridiculously talented? Wonkachild is what I want pop music to sound like. Not that you can fit him neatly in the genre of pop; far from it. His vocals are decidedly hip-hop with elements of soul and funk. He is equally at home flowing over an electric guitar riff as he is an old-school drumbeat or a jazzy walking bass. He’s been called genre-bending, and truly is. He’s Andre 3000 meets James Brown. Michael Jackson meets Lil Wayne. Prince meets Kanye…and I could go on. Listening to his album, I was struck by his well-executed versatility. Wonkachild frolics all over the musical landscape with style and ease. He is a mix-master of intimidating proportions to the likes of Kanye West, who seems increasingly out of touch with his audience. By contrast, Wonkachild seems eager to engage listeners in his playful banter of jazz, rock, funk, soul, and electronica.
Perhaps even more impressive is what backs up the funky dance and hip-hop rhythms: “a refreshing lyrical wordplay infused with the subliminal message of ‘confident cool.’” On the title track “Urkel,” he separates himself from the mass produced style that typifies pop “artists” today:
we harvest ignorance and expect the kids to eat it
you talk about NOTHING on a track and try to feed it
then tell them it’s delicious cause you know that they’ll believe it
His art is poised, deliberate and mindful, as it methodically exposes the emptiness in “profit-pop” by offering a counterexample based on sophistication and depth. It only seems natural to attribute this to the sense of freedom he finds in himself and his artistry, a security that some pop musicians seem to lack. He is confident in himself, and he wants you to be too. Make no mistake: he doesn’t need you in order to maintain his confident cool. But how could you resist?
Originality and relevance coexist harmoniously on this album, creating a phenomenon rarely seen in hip-hop since OutKast hit the scene. His name is difficult enough to forget as it is, but I have a feeling Wonkachild won’t relinquish the attention of music fans everywhere for quite some time. Urkel 2.0 is now available at all digital retailers