FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 2012 |
Posted by: Amanda Scherker
In a recent interview with NPR about his latest EP Express Yourself, beloved DJ Diplo said that he wants his fans "not have to think about why [his music is] interesting or what it is." He elaborated that he wants it "just to reach them immediately." So it seems a little contradictory to write (or even read?) a review of his EP. How do you make intellectual sense of music specifically intended to belie philosophical mumbo-jumbo in favor of something so basically human -- e.g. intoxicating beats and slick dance moves?
And yet here we are. In resisting self-indulgent meditation about his craft, Diplo perhaps makes it that much more interesting to talk about. That's because he raises a whole new question: when it comes to good dance music, does your head or your heart know better? On a gut level, I'm inclined to agree with the Diplo take, and not just cause he's kind of a big deal. Technique and theories aside, perhaps it's ultimately most important that dance music compels you and strikes you, that it feels instinctive rather than thoughtful.
And Diplo's EP certainly fulfills his first requirement -- it's instantly danceable, with pulsing bass, seductive chanting, and razor sharp mixing. But it's still hard to appreciate how nuanced Diplo's work is from beneath the flashing lights of a dance floor. Diplo's music is so massively appealing because it is somehow both old and new, both East and West.
Diplo, the scrappy reappropriater, is the poster-child of what it means to be a successful musician right now. A perennial borrower, his music is a giant hodgepodge of souvenirs from DC to Sri Lanka, essentially a globalization of the dance club. Whether Diplo wants to or not, his music inherently begins an important conversation. It's just one that might be most fun to answer on the dance floor with some cool moves and sick lights.