However, Diplo's debut production album, Florida (Big Dada), is a whole other ball of wax. The blurb you'll probably see stickered on the CD is some variation of "DJ Shadow with Dirty South Flava," which isn't totally off base. Diplo shares Shadow's love for psychedelic rock and lush textures; Florida abounds with layers of myriad keyboards and string instruments and its unfailingly funky drum samples seem to date from the Nixon era--always a good thing (I mean the beats, not Nixon's reign).
"Into the Sun" (featuring former Tricky diva Martina Topley-Bird) and "Way More" are sublimely blissed triphop, with the latter bolstered by a haunting sample of United States of America vocalist Dorothy Moskowitz. "Money Power Respect" ribs materialistic hiphop sentiments to a sci-fi-tinged electro backdrop. "Diplo Rhythm" (with mic-rocking from Vybz Cartel, Sandra Melody, and Pantera Os Danadinhos) freshens up dancehall with an intrusion of Kraftwerk's "Tour de France" rhythm and deep breathing and keyboards set on "tingle" mode. Similarly tingling is "Works," a swampy brooder animated by Terry Riley Rhodes burbles. A snippet of a guy relating a drug experience in "Works" ("It feels like my backbone turns to pure electricity/And it feels like I have absolutely no weight/And it feels like my head is about the size of the sky/And it feels like my heart is everybody that's listening/And it feels great") sums up Florida's hallucinatory vibe. All in all, this is an album better suited for eating acid than swilling Cristal to.
Florida is melancholy, diverse, and very psychedelic--perhaps not what Hollertronix fans are expecting. "I just tried to make my own genre--Gully Beat--putting everything in the mix," Diplo says. "One thing, though: It is all samples, but I turned 'em real dirty. I'm not proud of [strictly using samples], but that's gonna change if people buy it and I can afford some new equipment, maybe even learn to play an instrument."
It's doubtful he'll have time to do this, as Diplo's datebook is filled up this year. He's producing MIA's new album for XL and Georgia hiphop maverick Viktor Vaughn's upcoming joint. He's also buffed up tracks for Dirty South ruffneck rapper David Banner and ex-Company Flow MC Bigg Jus. And club owners worldwide are demanding his debauched Hollertronix wax collages. It's heartening to see a producer/DJ straddle the mainstream and underground and comport himself spectacularly in both realms. DAVE SEGAL
Diplo performs with Scientific American Thurs Nov 11 at Chop Suey, 1325 E Madison St, 324-8000, 9 pm-2 am, 21+, $8 adv.