DJ, producer, mixer, songwriter: Allround talent Diplo does it all. From producing songs for artists like Usher, Beyoncé, Mac Miller and Ellie Goulding (to name a few), and being credited to bring M.I.A. to the spotlight with her breakthrough single ‘Paper Planes’, he in between made himself a name as a solo artist while also being part of several collaborative groups: As a DJ duo with Skrillex as Jack Ü, forming supergroup LSD with singers Sia and Labrinth, or performing in band Silk City with British musician Mark Ronson. Most notably, however, is Dipo’s collab with Jillionaire and Walshy Fire as one-third of Major Lazer, known for hit single ‘Lean On’, featuring MØ and DJ Snake.
His résumé is endless as he hops from one project to another like a mastermind. If he’s not helping Snoop Dogg to reincarnate as Snoop Lion in his reggae-inspired album ‘Reincarnation’ (2013), he makes some extra coins as a much requested Remix artist for the dance scene – mixing Kelly Rowland’s ‘Motivation’, Linkin Park’s ‘When They Come For Me’ to even mixing The Beatles’ ‘Twist and Shout’. The list goes on and on. His universal approach makes him a leading DJ in today’s electronic music. Dividing his world in different fields, not staying in the dance category but rather digging in all types of genres like an explorer. Much like the creation of his artist name Diplo – short for Diplodocus, linked to his childhood fascination of dinosaurs, putting early on creative thoughts in every aspect.
One year after his EP ‘California’ – an ode to his home place – Diplo decided to create a (sort of) successor, going continental with six new tracks in ‘Europa’: Exploring what some of Europe’s talent has to offer, or, to be exact, four European countries in particular: The UK, The Netherlands, France & Germany. On the 22nd of February, Diplo shared his desire for the project on Instagram: “I’ve been coming to Europe for 15 years to perform and the local scenes have been showing love everywhere.. Blessed to work with a bunch of these great artists in the UK, France, Holland, & Germany.. Paying attention and working to collaborate with these artists over the last year has finally come together on this EP.”
The local scenes he mentioned inspired the six tracks of his new effort ‘Europa’, all in collaboration with European artists. French-British rapper Octavion starts off as the first collab. The rapper from London lends his voice in track number 1 called ‘New Shapes’ – a slow jam with R&B feels, with mid-tempo and relaxed hip-hop flavors. Language barriers are broken as the album switches from English in the album opener to French in ‘Boom Bye Bye’ featuring Niska. The rapper from France offers a singing and rapping combo, following the relaxing vibe of the aforementioned album opener. Niska’s singing gives a hopeful positive vibe while in the mids he fires up a fast rap – short and sweet. Diplo then enters Holland with ‘Dip Raar’. Dutch Hip-hop artists Bizzey and Ramiks, who often collaborate together, create a style reminiscent of Dutch street culture. While the song’s first strings of the guitar remind of the beginning of Nintendo’s Tetris theme, the acoustic scratches and the beat play around to give an urban street feel. Afterwards, the German ‘Baui Coupé’ hits groovy beats when German artist Bausa raps about offering a place in the backseat of his car for his lady. Just after passing more than half of the album, Diplo travels back to France, bringing some trap music to the table in ‘Oh Maria’ featuring rapper Soolking. The rapper, who originally comes from Algeria, goes French with Southern Spanish flavors. Diplo then ends the album with an addictive tropical flow in ‘Mira Mira’ featuring Manchester artist IAMDDB – delivering Rihanna-esque Island vibes with reggaeton undertones.
While Diplo is known to experiment in whatever fields he likes to explore, ‘Europa’ can be seen as one of his side projects – exploring the street culture in Europe, searching explicitly for artists who offer an underground feel. This is exactly how his EP feels and sounds like – a distinct urban European sound blended with hip-hop, dance and pop sounds, adding some Southern touches here and there.
The album gives a natural feel like entering hidden places of a metropolis in Europe: Underground Paris or Berlin, the smoky coffeeshops in Amsterdam, or the outside markets in the suburbs of London. Diplo can easily create a certain atmosphere by not being afraid to think out of the box and finding talent wherever talent can be found. On the other hand, many of the electronic styles from the EP carry typical club tunes similar to music that’s been heard before. This is however forgiven for not having any dull moments: The changes from style to language blend in perfectly to make it work as one concept. The songs, therefore, work great together and, as there are plenty of rappers and singers out there in the European scenes (and much more places to explore) a second ‘Europa’ EP would not be a bad idea. You never know. Let’s see what Diplo’s next move will be.
New Shapes (feat. Octavian)
Boom Bye Bye (feat. Niska)
Mira Mira (feat. IAMDDB)