After achieving superstar status midway through the past decade thanks to his work with girlfriend/acolyte M.I.A., producer/DJ Diplo went to work dabbling his fingers in just about all of pop music’s current iterations. Often called in to lend hipster credibility and a danceable flavor to major pop releases, Diplo has wound up placing some of his best work on the albums of hip-hop artists whose ambitions include a crossover to the lucrative electronic dance market.
In celebration of Diplo’s Express Yourself EP, released this past week, check out this collection of the best hip-hop tracks featuring a production credit from today’s most bankable DJ.
“Slight Work” — Wale, ft. Big Sean
The bouncing synthesizers that form the basis of this track from Wale’s 2011 LP Ambition reek of Diplo’s sweat-dance influence. Those chirping sirens backing up Wale’s verse are cribbed directly from Diplo’s club tracks, and the close cousins of those pestering bleeps and boops can be found regularly causing havoc in any number of Spanish clubs.
While Diplo’s hip-hop collaborations have sometimes resulted in awkward stylistic marriages, Wale’s energetic flow turns out to mesh seamlessly with Diplo’s club-frenzied aesthetic.
“You Can Sell Anything” — Das Racist
What ground Das Racist loses thanks to the chunkiness of its flow, it more than makes up by dint of its willingness to serve as a workshop for some of hip-hop’s most productive genre experiments. The whistling, clunking beat that backs up this track seems more than likely a toss-off for the hyper-productive Diplo, but experiments of this nature still serve as timely reminders that he can produce work appropriate to climates other than sweaty, Ibiza-based nightclubs.
Das Racist lays down an agitprop rap typical of its ilk, reminding us, among other things, that “Google the Devil.”
“Two Shots” — Lil Wayne
Remember those sirens from “Slight Work”? Well, here they are again, though this time bent, chopped and otherwise deranged into a small coven of auditory demons.
A particularly raspy Weezy growls his way through this bonus track from Tha Carter IV, adding the necessary human element to what again seems to be one of Diplo’s experimental orphans.
“Unstoppable” — Drake, ft. Lil Wayne and Santigold
The skill and completeness with which Drake executed his crossover success would need a congressional investigation in order to ferret out the entirety of its sly machinations, but at least part of the credit for that accomplishment can be laid at the feet of collaborations such as this one, which finds Drake dressing a dance-nouveau hook by Santigold in the gaudy weeds of pop hip-hop excess.