Diplo - California
The default position for most of the world seems to be hating Diplo. He's too successful, He's to vocal and He just turns nobs right? Anyone who knows anything about electronic music knows how nonsensical this is, because for the past 14 years Diplo has been on the vanguard of almost everything new that happens. He and Skrillex damn near ushered in the EDM takeover of pop music and his work with Major Lazer brought Dance Hall to the dance forefront. His music is big and bombastic stretching what dance can and should be. The cult of personality surrounding Diplo has garnered him a parody twitter account with millions of followers and TV show with James Van Der Beek playing him. That is why this new EP California is so interesting, it follows none of the rules Diplo has seemingly set for himself. This album isn't over the top club madness nor is it dance hall inspired EDM, instead this is an understated and honestly a profoundly sad album. With names like Lil Yachty, Lil Xan and Desiigner as features you would expect something turned up, explosive and tailor made for top 40 radio. Yet none of that is here. The drops are all but gone, replaced with slick shifts and the occasional big moment. The only song that you could hearken back to his old style is "Get it Right" with the ever present MØ. It's a fine song but also the most basic on an album full of rich newness. The opening track with Lil Yachty and Santigold is simply fantastic with the usually over the top happy Yachty taking a more passive and sad position. It feels so comfortable for the rapper, far more so than his last album which was full or harsh lyrics and attacks. On this record Diplo pulls the absolute best out of his features in a way that few of them likely expected.
Desiigner has been accused of sounding like Future, which let's be honest: He fucking does, but at least on "Suicidal" at least it works. Sure Future probably would have been a more high profile addition, but give Desiigner some credit here for delivering something nice outside of "Panda". "Look Back" featuring DRAM is a point where things get a little to slow for their own good, and DRAM acts a little to DRAMy on the record. His vocal runs and ad libs can become a bit annoying especially when He forces his own personality onto a song as hard as He does here. Tripple Redd who as of late is appearing on more and more electronic albums features on "Woah" and I'm still not sold on this guy. There are moments where He sounds light and fantastic while at others He sounds like something is fucking stuck in his throat. It could be a Soundcloud rap thing that I am just not hip enough for yet, but He sounds so much better when He is...well trying to sound better. "Color Blind" has some of the best warbly production on the album sort of breathing in and out with the beat. When you expect to really loath something and it ends up being pretty darn good its such a great little surprise. You may have written Diplo off, or maybe never gave him a shot, but with this album He shows He has some real dimension and perhaps we've only seen a few. Maybe.
7.9 out of 10