Review : Diplo - Express Yourself EP
PitchforkIn the past calendar year, Diplo's released a book, hosted a weekly BBC show, co-produced one of Usher's most widely appealing singles in years, plotted a train-travelling Canadian tour with Grimes and Skrillex, had his hands in new albums from Scissor Sisters and Bonde do Rolê, worked with Kreayshawn, put out a new single from his and Switch's Major Lazer project, and allowed himself to be filmed while referring to hip-hop also-also-rans Chiddy Bang as "my best friends in the entire world." Fittingly, none of those benchmarks chart as the most left-of-center accomplishment that Wesley Pentz has tackled in 2012.
That distinction is reserved for Express Yourself, an EP that was set to come out near the end of 2011, but is just now seeing the light of day. The surprising thing about Express Yourself isn't the music it showcases, but the fact that it exists at all. Excepting 2009's uneven odds-and-ends compilation Decent Work for Decent Pay, Diplo hasn't put out a substantial solo release showcasing his own productions since 2004's Florida.
Amidst the constant cacophony that surrounds Diplo's every move these days, Florida isn't a record frequently referenced in the context of his ever-growing body of work. That's because, like Black Dice's Beaches and Canyons and Liars' They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top, the album's stoned, 1990s-sounding multiculti soup sounds like more of a snapshot of where he was then than an indication of where he was headed. (Setting aside the fact that they both have become TV fixtures, it also represents the only imaginable link between Diplo and RJD2.)
Express Yourself is a snapshot, too, and not just because its cover art is literally a photo of the man himself crowd-surfing some locale-less Sea of Broquility. Diplo's always been as much of an ace curator as a savvy producer, and the sonic breadth of this EP represents his many genre fascinations over the past few years, along with a stuffed guest list to back up the reference points. Some of the sounds and sound-makers present: dancehall (Elephant Man), New Orleans bounce (Nicky Da B), moombahton (Billy the Gent and Long Jawns), and Canadian dubstep (Datsik). Naturally, a production duo by the name of Lazerdisk Party Sex shows up, too, and they're notable for having a hand in the EP's most sonically subtle contribution, "Set It Off", as well as for this sort of funny promo picture....full text
ConsequenceofsoundWithout a doubt, 2012 has been the year of Diplo. Between producing a track for hype-mongerer Azealia Banks, touring with Grimes and Skrillex, and scattering releases from his alter-ego Major Lazer, the man is inescapable. He even released a book. With quantity doesn’t necessarily come quality, though, as we discover pretty quickly into his latest EP, Express Yourself.
The approach to Express Yourself‘s six tracks, for better or worse, mirrors Diplo’s more recent live sets. Instead of taking the time to develop a groove a la “Percao” from the Decent Work days, we’re given instant gratification. While still incorporating dance hall beats, the songs build too quickly from their mellow starts and various featured vocalists to schizophrenic explosions of warbled bass, leaving us to wonder if we even earned the drop.
That being said, Express Yourself is not a wholly bad collection of songs; half of them showcase Diplo’s characteristic ear for taking disparate pieces and creating a coherent whole. The title track kicks things off strongly, with its dizzying vocals from up-and-coming bounce rapper Nicky Da B, whose choppy flow feels right at home among the simple beat and chorus of lasers. “Barely Standing” follows and is the definite highlight of the group. Canadian dubstep producer Datsik’s appearance on the decks and Sabi’s sultry vocals flow with Diplo as the intermediary, working successfully to meld the two into a sure-to-be club banger....full text
PrefixmagThe Mad Decent blog has just posted a link to stream Diplo's new Express Yourself EP on Spotify right now. The EP won't be available elsewhere until June 12, but today you can stream all six tracks featuring Elephant Man, GTA, Sabi, Flinch, and Datsik. ...full text
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