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Essential Listening: Diplo

Essential Listening: Diplo

Now regarded as one of the most influential players in dance music, Diplo is an act that commands such presence largely because of his relentless work ethic. Whilst the American has enjoyed phenomenal success as a solo DJ and producer, he is also the owner of Mad Decent Records and one third of Major Lazer.

There has undoubtedly been an incredible amount of hard work and perseverance for the Mississippi-born musician to achieve his standing. Diplo released his first and only solo album back in 2004 but it wasn’t until he collaborated with British rapper M.I.A. that people really started to take note. After helping to craft a record which earned him a Grammy nomination there was an endless stream of artists such as Kid Cudi, Shakira and Snoop Dogg wanting to work with Diplo. From there he decided to set up his own label, Mad Decent, initially to showcase his love for the favela music scene in Brazil before later providing a platform for abstract sounds across the globe.

It is hard to find a genre which hasn’t enjoyed a positive influence from Diplo such are his gargantuan number of production credits over the years. For this article we are going to stick with his solo work and attempt to pick out five definitive records.

Be Right There
This record is such a warm and exuberant track thanks to the delightful melodies assembled by Diplo alongside Canadian DJ/producer Sleepy Tom. The sun-drenched vocals of Priscilla Renea, a singer/songwriter who has many esteemed admirers including Rihanna, Madonna and Mary J. Blige, also serve as a sweet accompaniment. All in all it is hard to imagine this song evoking anything other than pure joy as soon as you press play.



Express Yourself
A definitive tilt to Diplo’s love of hip-hop and rap, this record with the late rapper Nicky Da B represents a striking example of the Mad Decent boss’ ability to magically combine genres and create epic results. If the incredible rhyming talents of Nicky Da B aren’t enough to leave your head spinning then just check out the mind-bending assembly of synths and samples in the background. Sometimes when you attempt to merge two contrasting sounds it can be a recipe for disaster but this creative endeavour is quite the opposite.



Freak
Teaming up with another man who is known for being one of the craziest performers on the circuit in Steve Aoki and another addition in California’s Deorro ensured an equally frenetic record when the trio sat down in the studio. Being able to arrange various melodies in such a way that instantly has you jumping around like someone possessed is a trait which has become all too familiar with this group of musicians. If ever you wondered which Diplo record might be the ideal track to raise the roof with one fell swoop try turning this one up loud.



Earthquake
With a history of promoting diversity it doesn’t seem at all unusual that Diplo can turn his hand to trap, enlist the help of a drum n bass heavyweight in DJ Fresh and create a hugely successful record. The way in which both producers came together to create a hugely anthemic song was a slight surprise given their differing backgrounds but the end result oozes punch and rowdiness. For those that are keen to see how versatile Diplo is as an artist this record is essential listening.



C’mon (Catch ‘Em by Surprise)
There are few occasions when you see major DJ/producers collaborate together. Often there is a fear from both artists they won’t be able to maintain their individuality. This record was certainly a major exception to that rule, proving a highly-energized track thanks to a combination of Tiesto’s big room style and Diplo’s abstract take on house. Just in case the stellar cast of producers didn’t impress you enough one of the most famous rappers, Busta Rhymes, also showcases his formidable rhyming talents.



Diplo headlines Lost & Found Festival at Malta’s St Paul’s Bay next spring, the festival taking place from Thursday 3rd to Monday 7th May.

Photo courtesy of Diplo and Windish Agency

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