• Diplo Talks DJing in Africa, Collaborating With African Artists

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    In April, an estimated 125,000 fans flocked to Indio, California to attend the biggest festival in the U.S.: Coachella. Diplo didn’t perform, though, in fact, he wasn’t even there to party. The global music ambassador was instead in Africa, where he was touring and building relationships with artists across the continent.

    GQ Magazine caught up with him while he was in Uganda and spoke with him on the phone afterward. The interview, which was only recently published, focuses on his experience in Africa and the continent’s thriving music scene.

    On being warned about performing in Nigeria:

    “Everybody always warned me not to go to Nigeria to do shows. All the reggae artists—I remember having a conversation years ago with Sean Paul and Shaggy about Nigeria. Sean Paul’s like, I was going through Nigeria and they put these cactuses up in front of the stage. People just stood on the cactuses trying to get onstage until guys with guns batted them in the head to get ’em off. And Shaggy’s like, I got a better story. My first tour in Nigeria, they had a fence up around the venue, and the crowd was so crazy, they were shaking the fence. The police were afraid, so they sent the dogs out on the people to break up the crowd. And then one dog came back over the fence dead. They killed the dog and threw it back over the fence. So that was what I knew. I’d never been to Africa, besides South Africa, and everybody in South Africa calls it fake Africa.”

    On Nigeria’s influence on the global scene music:

    “Nigeria has this huge diaspora, like Jamaica. Nigerians live everywhere: England, L.A., New York. Nigerians have had a huge impact on music in the last ten years. Like the UK funky stuff that ended up becoming ‘One Dance’ by Drake. And then, over the last three or four years, Nigerians have been taking over with this new Afro-pop movement.”

    On his first show in Nigeria:

    “I was headlining this outdoor festival in Lagos that happens every year, but there was a crazy thunderstorm. We didn’t start until 2 A.M. It turns out the sound had blown out, but nobody told me. So I start my set and I was playing records and, like, dancing. I look up and there are all these Nigerian faces just staring at me. It was like that scene where George Michael’s band, Wham!, played Communist China. I had to banter onstage for half an hour [while they fixed the sound]. By then there were probably 500 people left. But I was just like, You know what? It’s 3 A.M. and there’s a thunderstorm in Nigeria. What do I have to lose? It was one of the hardest moments of my career. The next night, I had to do a private party on this rooftop where people were just, like, eating steak. I said to [Major Lazer MC] Walshy Fire, Man, Nigeria is where you either live or die as a DJ. This is like the DJ Olympics.”

    On the work ethic of Nigerian artists:

    “Me and this producer, E-kelly, did a song for Mr Eazi. Before I left, I was like, Hey, this is an idea for a song. I gave him the stems—the music for the beat. Then I land and he’s already sent me three demo versions with new drums. And Skales has already done a new version of ‘Run Up‘ with new guitars. The records were voiced and mixed. I’ve never seen people so hungry and the quality so high. In America, I can’t get Travis Scott to answer my text messages. I gotta go pour water on his face to wake him up and get him to voice a song. I don’t mind doing that, but I also don’t mind being here on the frontier, making music with all the Nigerians.”

    On Ethiopia’s culture and music scene:

    “Ethiopia is something different and special. It didn’t feel as African in the traditional sense, with the tribal culture. Ethiopia has a little taste of Africa, but a lot more taste of the Middle East. They have their own music, all in Amharic. People there like commercial music and dance music, so it was a dance-music crowd, as opposed to the hip-hop and Afro-pop crowd in Uganda.”

    On African music’s potential:

    “Historically, there’s always been so much music in Africa. But there’s never been much of an industry to sell it on a global scale—or even just at home. But now that’s happening. These young Nigerian kids are selling it. They’re selling it in Lagos. They’re flying around Africa performing it. And because of the diaspora, they’re traveling to London, New York, Chicago, Toronto. The diaspora is helping to promote it. And now they’re selling out the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. There’s so much cultural capital in Africa, and that usually comes first. Cultural capital leads to financial capital. And once you have both, it explodes, like gasoline to a flame.”

    Related: Watch Lil Yachty’s ‘Forever Young’ Video Feat. Diplo

  • Watch Lil Yachty’s ‘Forever Young’ Video Feat. Diplo

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    Lil Yachty goes on a fun date with model India Love in the video for his Diplo-assisted single, “Forever Young.” The visual follows the two playing mini-golf, riding go-karts, going down a waterslide and more.

    The track, which appears on Yachty’s debut album Teenage Emotions, was one of DJcity’s most downloaded songs of June.

    Watch the video above and download “Forever Young” on DJcity.

    Related: Watch Ty Dolla $ign’s ‘Love U Better’ Video Feat. Lil Wayne and The-Dream

  • Diplo’s Single ‘BANK ROLL’ Ft. Justin Bieber, Young Thug & Rich the Kid Is Now Available on DJcity

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    After first teasing it a year ago, Diplo‘s collab with Justin Bieber, Young Thug, and Rich the Kid is now available. The track, which was produced by Diplo, Boaz van de Beatz, and King Henry, features verses from all three artists over a slow burning hip-hop instrumental.

    Preview “BANK ROLL” below and grab it on DJcity. Shouts to Diplo for sending us the file.

    Related: Wax Motif Remixes Major Lazer’s ‘Run Up’

  • Diplo Talks Early Days As Producer and Decline of EDM

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    Diplo recently stopped by the Philadelphia chapter of The Recording Academy for an interview with journalist Dan DeLuca. The Mad Decent chief discussed his early days as a producer and vinyl dealer, the decline of EDM, his advice to artists, and other topics.

    On the development of his sound: “I was finding these kind of crevices and things that people weren’t doing. I don’t think I was ever that great at the music I was making, but I kept finding things that people weren’t doing and like just doing them, like you know and trying to do my best at taking up that space.”

    On the decline of EDM: “Some of these [artists] are great that are part of [EDM] and make great music but for the most part you already see that it’s in decline. . . . There hasn’t been a dance song on the radio except Calvin Harris and Rihanna this whole year. I think people have moved on. They’ve moved on to hip-hop again . . .”

    On his advice to artists: “You should always be an artist for yourself first. Do what you want to do. Never adhere to this genre or whatever. There was [once] a young DJ that played me his demos that were kinda cool, they different than what he made. But he was like, ‘I can’t release this because all my fans expect [that].’ I’m like, ‘Man, that’s the worst attitude ever.’ What if David Bowie thought that? He always was the guy who was changing the game. He was always the guy who decided to do something against the grain and always made records that were were forward thinking and ahead of the time. That’s what any artist should pursue.”

    Watch the conversation below.

    Related: Diplo Remixes M.I.A.’s New Single, ‘Bird Song’

  • Diplo Remixes M.I.A.’s New Single, ‘Bird Song’

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    Diplo has remixed M.I.A.‘s new single, “Bird Song,” marking their first collaboration since 2010.

    Diplo’s version, along with another version produced by Blaqstarr, samples a 1983 Tamil film called Aanandha Kummi. Both tracks appear on M.I.A.’s upcoming fifth studio album, AIM, due out September 9.

    Stream Dip’s remix below and download it on DJcity.

    Related: 5 Things We Learned From Diplo’s Billboard Interview

    Posted in Tracks
  • Watch Mad Decent Block Party’s Hilarious Promo Video

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    Mad Decent

    Diplo has shared a hilarious video to promote this year’s Mad Decent Block Party, which kicks off this week in Florida.

    The piece, which is titled Day in the Life of Diplo, stars Dawson’s Creek actor James Van Der Beek as the Mad Decent chief himself. It provides a satirical behind-the-scenes look at Dip’s daily activities, which include managing “an army of little elves,” coming up with “lit” social media posts, and dealing with haters.

    The video is effective because it, unlike most festival promos, is a stand-alone piece and doesn’t feel like an ad. People who might not have otherwise posted about the Mad Decent Block Party have shared the video simply because it’s funny. If that isn’t clever marketing, then I don’t know what is.

    Watch and check out the tour dates below.

    7/30 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution Live
    8/6 – Brooklyn, NY @ MCU Park
    8/7 – Brooklyn, NY @ MCU Park
    8/13 – Philadelphia, PA @ Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing
    8/19 – Toronto, ON @ Fort York Garrison Commons
    8/20 – Detroit, MI @ Russell Industrial Center
    8/21 – Chicago, IL @ FirstMerit Bank Pavillion at Northerly Island
    8/26 – Dallas, TX @ Club Zouk Outside Lot
    9/3 – Denver, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre
    9/4 – Kansas City, MI @ KC Live! at The Power & Light District
    9/9 – Eugene, OR @ Cuthbert Amphitheater
    9/10 – Berkeley, CA @ Greek Theatre at UC Berkeley
    9/16 – Phoenix, AZ @ Rawhide
    9/17 – Phoenix, AZ @ Rawhide
    10/1 – Los Angeles, CA @ LA Center Studios

    Related: 5 Things We Learned From Diplo’s Billboard Interview

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  • 5 Things We Learned From Diplo’s Billboard Interview

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    Diplo hits ’em with the dab in Paris. (DMahoney)

    Billboard has named Diplo “Dance Artist of the Year” in their third annual Power List of DJs and Execs. The magazine also interviewed him for their current cover story.

    The attention makes sense. Since 2015, Diplo’s groups have scored two worldwide hits: Major Lazer and DJ Snake’s “Lean On” featuring MØ and Jack Ü’s “Where Are U Now” featuring Justin Bieber. The tracks have amassed more than 758 million and 3.4 million combined streams and sales, respectively. In March, Major Lazer performed a historic concert in Cuba, becoming the first US act to do so in decades. Now, the group is working with Bieber and MØ together on “Cold Water,” the lead single off Major Lazer’s upcoming fourth album.

    Here’s what we learned from the interview:

    1. He’s focused on producing for his own groups now.

    “Beyoncé is the only artist I’ve produced for the last year, because it’s more lucrative for us to make our own music now. When we put out a song with Beyoncé, cool, we’ll get a fee, we’ll get some [publishing] splits, but Beyoncé is going to make a billion dollars touring it. If I make a song and it’s my song, like ‘Lean On,’ we’re going to make money off the synchs, the Spotify and we get to headline festivals on it. That’s the model I want to explore.”

    2. He’s still an independent artist at heart.

    “It’s complicated because we just want to [release ‘Cold Water’] indie. And convincing Team Bieber to do that is hard. We don’t need to have some guy tell us, We don’t need to have some guy tell us, ‘Oh, this is what the market research says.’ I’m on the ground. I see it.”

    3. He finds greater purpose when performing in places where other big American acts don’t go.

    “In Pakistan, people were in tears. I’m not like the Red Cross, but the kids in Pakistan and Cuba want this. It feels like I’m doing something that’s important — I’m helping them create something that wasn’t there before.”

    4. He doesn’t like the EDM scene.

    “The DJ world is the corniest f–ing group of people. We’re not celebrities, we’re not famous for any good reason. We’re just … really lame. Besides people like Dillon Francis, who makes fun of the whole thing, or Calvin Harris, it’s a sinking ship. It’s a really lame culture. I’m sad that I’m part of it, but I play the game.”

    5. He uses Spotify and his own shows to find the next hit.

    “I think Spotify has been killing it with playlists. With Mad Decent we’re putting out like 400 songs this year. And we’re just doing it because we can find out which are playlist-friendly . . . Labels pay a lot of money for market research. I get it for free. Just give me an afterparty to DJ at.”

    Related: Diplo Discusses Major Lazer’s Historic Cuba Concert

  • Diplo Discusses Major Lazer’s Historic Cuba Concert

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    Major Lazer performs in Havana, Cuba on Mar. 6, 2016. (Kent Anderson)
    Last weekend, Major Lazer made history when they performed a free concert in Havana, Cuba for an estimated 400,000 fans. It was the first show by a major American act since diplomatic ties were restored between the two countries after decades of isolation.
    To learn more about the concert, award-winning journalist Charlie Rose traveled to Havana to interview Major Lazer member Diplo for CBS This Morning. The two cruised around the capital city while they discussed the significance of the event, why Major Lazer’s single “Lean On” became a worldwide hit and more.
    “I think it’s important to play places like this where the music is still brand new,” Diplo said. “These are the guys who are gonna change it. The kids in Havana, the kids in Pakistan, the kids in India — [they’re] the ones who are gonna to bring it to a new level.”
    “I was surprised by how much they knew, how culturally aware the kids are, considering there’s sort of a blockade of culture reaching Cuba. And I think it’s going to change a lot, because when information starts to come, you can’t stop that flow.”
    Watch the inspiring interview below.

    Additional footage from the concert:

    Related: Major Lazer Drops Video for ‘Light It Up’ Remix

  • Diplo and Bad Royale Remix Migos’ ‘Look at My Dab’

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    If you follow Diplo on social media, chances are you’ve seen a photo of him dabbing. The Mad Decent chief is clearly a fan of the dance craze, and now he’s remixed the song that helped it go viral: Migos’ “Look at My Dab.”
    To make it possible, Diplo called on California’s Bad Royale, a rising group that recently flipped another dance craze: iHeart Memphis’ “Hit The Quan.” Like that remix, Royale and Diplo’s rework of “Look at My Dab” contains two drops that are intense enough to wake someone from a coma.
    Stream the remix below and download it on DJcity.

    Related: 5 Viral Songs That DJs Should Know About

    Posted in Tracks
  • Watch TroyBoi’s ‘Afterhours’ Video Feat. Diplo and Nina Sky

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    Nearly three months after dropping a mix for the DJcity Podcast, UK producer/DJ TroyBoi has shared visuals for his single “Afterhours.” The four-minute video, which was shot in New York, shows duo Nina Sky and a handful of dancers performing choreography. The song peaked at number 33 on DJcity in September.
    Watch the video above and download the single on DJcity. Also, check out our interview with TroyBoi from summer.
    Related: TroyBoi Drops Mix for the DJcity Podcast