Reviews

Diplo

Diplo's view of music is undeniably assured and on point. Anyone who has had the opportunity to hear Hollertronix's Never Scared mix CD, his collaboration with associate Low Budget, understands that this Philly DJ is making some of the most incredible and important "now" music available, using turntables to blend Dirty South anthems with the Cars and the Clash, and birthing a cultural context as fresh as Paul's Boutique.

From the sonic imagery of black kids on a playground, to the duo's genuine emphasis on partying without flashing their numerous badges of privilege, Never Scared was counterculture clarity miles above the act of copping the newest sneaker with a certain shade. In contrast, Diplo's Florida emphasizes themes of understatement, patience, and good ol' American soul-searching. Most of its tracks are scholarly burners, unlike the playful sparks on Never Scared; instead of running all over the kickball court, the kid decides to stay in the classroom for some productive downtime.

Diplo builds original compositions with samples and a few guest vocalists such as Martina Topley-Bird and rapper P.E.A.C.E. of the Freestyle Fellowship, a course that runs from the symphonic beat of "Big Lost" through the delicate piano-key stride of "Sarah," the tell-tale Gummo samples on "Money Power Respect," and "Diplo Rhythm," a dancehall heart attack starring Vybz Kartel, Sandra Melody, and Brazilian stowaways Pantera Os Danadinhos. Amazingly, he manages to roam all over the map, musically and culturally, without coming off as a clueless tourist or a destructive real estate developer. Hopefully, Florida will squash all of the RJD2 versus DJ Shadow bongwater non-debates for good.

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Hunter Stephenson