When not serving as the face of the waning Blackberry empire, Diplo has made a name for himself as one of music’s most eclectic producers and DJ’s, capable of providing pounding rhythms for daggering as Major Lazer and flipping those same beats into club-ready fare for Beyoncé. His credits comprise a star-studded list of indie darlings and mainstream artists in equal measure: M.I.A., Das Racist, Major Lazer, Santigold, Wale, Chris Brown, Shakira, and Usher, to name but a few. And that’s not to mention the work with his label Mad Decent, a bastion of dance-friendly artists, mash-ups, and mixtapes that has kept the blogosphere buzzing for the last half decade.
Mad Decent’s discography reveals one secret of Diplo’s success: taking regional dance music from America and around the globe and adding polish and pyrotechnics for a wider audience. Some view Diplo’s cultural translation as a positive, bringing these genres to the masses; others see it as a sort of musical gentrification that strips source material of its raw energy. No matter what side of the divide you fall on, it’s important to know about the influences at play.
In light of Diplo’s latest regionally-influenced dance floor burner “Express Yourself” (and in anticipation of the EP of the same name, out today), now seems like as good a time as any to learn a little bit about New Orleans Bounce, the genre that spawned it.