On the latest Mad Decent Records-released Diplo compilation Random White Dude Be Everywhere, the most significant victory of the 12 song, 47 minute compilation is Diplo’s self-awareness of his own ubiquitous presence in Rap-as-EDM. Furthermore apparent is the fact that Diplo is aware both he and the sound are as commonplace in modern times as oxygen, willful abuse of controlled substances and wireless Internet availability. However, if any of these concepts do not hold any particular level of sway in your existence, then this album is repetitive and annoying. As much as some may hate the phenomenon, Trap being in the rave is absolutely happening, releases like these existing to capitalize from the trend.
The likely highlight of the release is that we finally get the proper unveiling of “Techno,” Diplo’s collaboration with heavily Afro-centric drumming meets electro Dutch hardstyle/Rap producers Yellow Claw and LNY TNZ, with Trap-rap living legend Waka Flocka Flame dropping bars. Yes, much has already been made of his planned “EDM” release with Steve Aoki, but from already hearing “Too Turnt Up” with Chicago-based Trap-as-EDM duo Flosstradamus, Waka’s pretty much already figured out the formula. A little talk of cocaine, a whole lot of discussion of uninhibited behavior and in this track in particular, dropping the word “techno” in there as a paean to each black person at the rave that still thinks that every single dance track ever sounds like Cajmere’s Chicago Tech-House classic “Percolator.”
As much as the name of this release was Diplo’s Twitter profile description for much of 2013, the tracks on it are very much synonymous with what Diplo’s doing in clubs and festivals in the summer, fall and winter of 2014. Missy Elliott-sampling “Boy Oh Boy” with Rihanna’s 2013 European tour openers GTA is here, and though the track’s origins date back to 2012, the hard House-to-moombahton (140 BPM to 110 BPM) track’s tropical sway is intriguing because it owes as much to Timbaland as it does Dutch house giant Afrojack, thus creating the perfect middle ground for where both club-friendly Dance and Rap are in the current era.
Tracks “Revolution,” “Express Yourself” and “Biggie Bounce” are all re-releases of three of Diplo’s biggest party starters of the past 18 months. “Revolution” is both the name and title track of his twerk-tastic 2013 EP. Danish house producer Faustix, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada’s Imanos and vocalist Kai combine on said EP’s title track for what feels like Ellie Goulding or Sia raising their vocals to the heavens while blonde girls in Forever 21 dresses and their festival-attending minority friends drop it low.
“Biggie Bounce” is intriguing in that it does what so many great EDM tracks do, in reducing their vocal components into being zombie sounds in a layered mix of melodies and basslines. Is that Travis Porter or is it the Ying Yang Twins? Does it matter? Or has EDM figured out how to repurpose the reductive mid-2000s Southern Rap centric ringtone phenomenon in a way that gives 15 seconds of Trap Rap as much impact as a four-minute ratchet jam? Given that “Biggie Bounce” is one of many songs sharing a similar formula for peak-hour rave success, the latter question should likely be answered with a resounding, “Yes.”
When Dance met Rap in the 1990s, Hip Hop culture was still emanating from New York City, and Dance music was still a phenomenon with significant roots in America’s midwest. Thus, Hip House mixing New York boom bap with House’s throbbing electronic swing made sense. Comparatively, in a similar manner, Southern Trap has met with Dutch Hard Electro in 2014, and Trap-as-EDM recordings such as these exist and expand Rap’s expectation in a familiar manner, but with intriguing, yet unusual results.
Diplo’s a leading producer of dance records also looking to break big and put down the flag yet again for American producers in EDM’s modern age. Thus, these wild, Electronic Rap tracks make sense. Is EDM using Rap as a tool by which some producers are able to break into stardom while breaking from a pack of similarly motivated musical wizards a good thing for Rap music? Well, with Iggy Azalea topping the charts, Meek Mill being in jail, French Montana and Kanye West respectively dating and marrying Kardashian sisters, it’s entirely possible that Diplo making Dance/Rap songs with Waka Flocka Flame about your girlfriend using cocaine in a laser-filled dance party with them could easily be considered not bad at all. Rather, on a level of scratching one’s head and deciding to “turn up” instead, it’s another intriguing 2014 happening, and pretty much par for the course. Overall, this EP is another signifier that in the music industry, these are bizarre and amazing times. It is what it is.