Album Review: Wonder Age by Air Dubai

Tom “Wonderboy” Roth is studying in Dubai, contributing concert and album reviews to USD Radio. Denver-based rap group Air Dubai was too appropriate not to review. Read on for his take on their latest album, Wonder Age.

By: Tom “Wonderboy” Roth

When Flobots updated their social media outlets with the announcement “We kick off a full free show at 3pm sharp! Breckenridge peak 8 base. Air Dubai at 2!” I could hardly believe what I was reading. Were Flobots, the mildly popular rap group from Denver really coming to the Middle East? In a fit of excitement, I checked my tour sources.

Nope. Flobots had no scheduled stops in Dubai.

Wait, I thought. Air Dubai? Maybe they meant ‘Fly Dubai’, one of the main airlines for flights in and out of the UAE. I checked. Nope. No such carrier as ‘Air Dubai’ but Google yielded something else: ‘Air Dubai: free music, tour dates, photos, video’.

The free music was good but I wanted more. A quick email to the group was returned with a copy of the group’s latest album, Wonder Age, attached. A quick listen left me satisfied. Air Dubai was more than just a catchy name for a band but did nothing to prepare me for the group’s sound.

Wonder Age belies the breadth of Air Dubai as a group. With a membership seven-strong, the group is a veritable orchestra. Led by the lyrics of Julian Thomas and Jon Shockness, the jazz-infused raps usher themselves in from the opening track, “Restless Youth”. The riding geet-beat and clap rhythm are reminiscent of 1950’s blast-from-the-past doo-wop track.

The funky rhythms form a nice base for Thomas and Shockness’ love odes which range from blithe summer love on “Ten Weeks” to the maddening frustration of that hard-to-get woman to whom “Black and White” is dedicated.

The poets take a break from lamenting their lost loves to boogey down on “Lasers”, whose heavy-beat can loosen the stiffest of crowds. Shockness dispels any assumption that Wonder Age is a ballad-album when he claims to “drop lyrical disasters on demand like it’s Comcast. Feel it in Japan like a nuclear bomb blast”. Politically correct? Definitely not. Floetic? One hundred percent.

With a solid collection of well-constructed rhymes and crafty instrumental backing, Wonder Age bridges the gap between hip-hop’s current state and its earliest origins in brass n’ bass jazz. Air Dubai, all seven of them, have put themselves on the less-traveled but always stimulating path of alternative rap and it’s worth a listen. Check out Air Dubai’s single “Weekends” off of Wonder Age here.

Click here to download Air Dubai’s remix album from their official website.