Diplo
California


2.0
poor

Review

by Will R. STAFF
March 23rd, 2018 | 29 replies


Release Date: 03/23/2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: “I don’t want to be, like, an aging DJ. That’s not very cool.”

“Culture is meant to be fused. That’s how culture moves. It’s complicated, but I don’t fucking care,” says Diplo in a recent New Yorker profile; minutes later, the Floridian producer tries to order Dominican food at a Cuban restaurant. This bit of irony summarizes Wes Pentz’s latter-day career fairly well: the “accused Caucasian ‘culture vulture’” tends to interpolate sounds from the Americas and West Africa without doing the legwork required to make sure those sounds are on the cutting edge of the culture there. (Rihanna once snarked a song of his as “sound[ing] like a reggae song at an airport,” and I think that about sums it up.) It’s why he can blithely dismiss non-American pop as having “a bleak future,” as he told the Guardian in an interview published yesterday, that he “can’t see it going further than” the wave of “Latin music” that dominated the charts last summer and fall. Given that it’s been about half a year since “Mi Gente” peaked on the Billboard Hot 100, this blanket statement seems to be true, so long as you’re not clued into the crossover success of Bad Bunny and Ozuna from Puerto Rico and Wizkid and Patoranking from Nigeria, the unprecedented American impact of BTS from South Korea, the meteoric rise of Kris Wu and VaVa from China, and so on and so forth. (In the Guardian interview, Diplo also said that “people just remember that [Justin Bieber] made a great album in Purpose” and have forgotten “the bad music” he ostensibly made before, which, like, “Boyfriend,” but that’s neither here nor there.)

Point is, Diplo’s perception of “global pop” doesn’t seem to be particularly consistent with the sort of “global pop” actually succeeding today, and nowhere is that clearer than California. Make no mistake, the EP is indeed a “global” release. “Color Blind” takes inspiration from Australia, in that it sounds like a Flume song from 2013. “Suicidal” takes inspiration from Norway, in that it sounds like a Cashmere Cat song from 2012. “Look Back” takes inspiration from Nashville, in that it sounds like a Jack White song produced sometime after 2009 or so, when his monumental narcissism overwhelmed his ability to make worthwhile music. “Get It Right” is truly international, in that it sounds like every single song produced by a mainstream DJ in 2015, during the height of the “future bass” craze.

If this is what Diplo imagines intercontinentally-successful pop sounds like in 2018, then no wonder he thinks it’s a pile of garbage. On one level, California is a dull, listless examination of the slightly less conventional bits of the U.S. pop charts, featuring hip-hop artists doing exciting and innovative things with the genre while incorporating absolutely none of that innovation into its production. On another level, California is a copy of a copy, a watered-down imitation of sounds that (aside from Jack White, who will at this point likely never change his attitude) every artist he’s imitating moved on from years ago. On a third level, California is, for all Diplo’s bluster about fusing cultures and such, an EP that entirely ignores any non-American movement that hasn’t already been fully assimilated into an iHeartRadio-palatable sound. “Honestly, I’m waiting to be irrelevant,” says Diplo in the aforementioned Guardian piece; he might not have to wait long.



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user ratings (25)
2.6
average

Comments:Add a Comment 
Brostep
Staff Reviewer
March 23rd 2018


4484 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

New Yorker article mentioned (and source of summary quote): https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/01/08/diplos-bona-fide-hustle

Guardian article mentioned: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/mar/22/diplo-being-a-white-american-you-have-zero-cultural-capital

source of culture vulture quote: http://remezcla.com/features/music/on-major-lazer-moombahton-latinos-and-americas-dance-music-future/

source of Rihanna quote: http://www.vulture.com/2017/08/rihanna-told-diplo-his-music-sounds-like-airport-reggae.html



on the plus side I'm back on that reviewing game I guess. god do I wish I could use hyperlinks on this here site

granitenotebook
Contributing Reviewer
March 23rd 2018


966 Comments


“Culture is meant to be fused. That’s how culture moves. It’s complicated, but I don’t fucking care,” says Diplo in a recent New Yorker profile; minutes later, the Floridian producer tries to order Dominican food at a Cuban restaurant.
lmao
love this review good stuff

indigonowhere
Emeritus
March 23rd 2018


10734 Comments


Where's Deviant to make the joke about you graduating from Brostep University via this review?

Superbly written, my friend -- it's been a pleasure to witness your writing over all these years and to see something recent from you! It sounds like Diplo is still busy making music I wouldn't dig much... And you make many great points too about the cultural component of this record, which I think is def important for these kinds of records sampling instruments and sounds from other cultures.

What electronic have you been getting into recently, Will? Curious if our tastes have converged with recent releases. : )

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2018


19108 Comments


oh shiiiii

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
March 25th 2018


4484 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

good to see ya still kickin around as well Jade :] tbh my music-listening habits recently have been kinda all over the place, so there's been some electronic music but not a ton. been listening a lot to Ivy Lab and their 20/20LDN cohorts, since I'm going to see em in NYC in late April (suuuuuuper pumped!) - half-time DnB is absolutely killer, especially the way they make it. otherwise it's been mostly pop and hip-hop - Red Velvet, VaVa, Charli XCX, CupcakKe, Fickle Friends, Rico Nasty, and 3LAU are pretty much the only artists with new-ish music in my history. should prob get on that new-music grind better haha. what have you been into?

gryndstone
March 25th 2018


1372 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this man makes very good lets player intro music

gryndstone
March 25th 2018


1372 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

would definitely use get it right for my hardcore mode minecraft series

Evok
March 25th 2018


7747 Comments


Diplo is such a tool. Sweet review bro.

VaxXi
March 25th 2018


4418 Comments


damn this review is brutal

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
March 25th 2018


17131 Comments


Great Jack White review

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
March 25th 2018


4484 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Marshmello > Diplo for Roblox let's plays imo

bloc
March 25th 2018


58308 Comments


dildo

Digging: Black Devil Disco Club - Disco Club

Spacesh1p
March 25th 2018


7717 Comments


Great review, agree with everything you said.

ianblxdsoe
March 25th 2018


1916 Comments


brosteppppp ace review

rabidfish
March 25th 2018


5519 Comments


this sounds like a DIPLO SONG!

IcelandRevel
March 25th 2018


943 Comments


doot dododoot doot dodoot doot
Good review! At first, I thought the first half was unnecessarily tearing down the artist themselves, but it provides a lot of context here. Also, the cover looks like an anime character.


Arcade
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2018


143 Comments

Album Rating: 2.6

“Wish” is a great song

Arcade
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2018


143 Comments

Album Rating: 2.6

just read the review and i agree mostly / laughed, want to highlight this line tho;

“Color Blind” takes inspiration from Australia, in that it sounds like a Flume song from 2013.


brilliant lmao

Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2018


2735 Comments


commenting on an E X T R E M E L Y G O O D R E V I E W

Digging: Art Ensemble of Chicago - Les stances a Sophie

PumpBoffBag
March 26th 2018


951 Comments


excellent review. My only knowledge of this guy's music came from Evil Boy by Die Antwoord, and that's not really a good thing.



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