Our artist of the month for February is one who has seen India as closely as anyone has, travelling to the furthest corners of the vast country.
He is also the artist responsible for what became undoubtedly the biggest club and festival track of 2015. If you haven’t guessed it already, he’s none other than Thomas “Diplo” Pentz.
Born to Barbara Jean and Thomas Pentz in Mississippi, he spent most of his youth days in Miami, where he developed a penchant for the signature Miami bass. After studying at UCF, he moved to Temple University, where he attacked attention as a DJ. His first collaboration was with DJ Low Budget, and the two of them played club nights under the name Hooked on Hollertronix. Their mixtape, Never Scared, was named one of the New York Times top ten albums of 2003. The Hollertronix parties then featured artists like Bun B and M.I.A.
Diplo then moved on to produce his debut album ‘Florida’, which was released on Ninja Tune owned Big Dada Recordings.
His affinity to the ‘Favela funk’ genre led to a number of mixtapes that brought the Brazilian dance music to America.
Diplo also built “The Mausoleum,” a video studio, recording studio, record label office, gallery, and event space in Philadelphia. Since its inception, The Mausoleum has become the home to recordings by artists like Christina Aguilera, Shakira, M.I.A., Santigold, Spank Rock, Plastic Little, Blaqstarr, Paper Route Gangstaz, and hosted concerts by Glass Candy, Skream, Boys Noize, Nicos Gun, and more.
M.I.A met Diplo during one of his gigs at Fabric in London, in 2004 and the two eventually collaborated on a mixtape, Piracy Funds Terrorism Vol. 1.
It was mentioned as one of the ‘Albums of the Year’ from the New York Times and Pitchfork Media. Post this, the two became romantically involved and remained together for 5 years.
Diplo has also done collaborations with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Kid Cudi, Bruno Mars and Shakira. He went on to form his Mad Decent label in 2005, and since then the Mad Decent label has released music by Santigold, Baauer, Lil’ Jon, Gucci Mane, Peter Bjorn and John, Rusko, Bosco Delrey, Buraka Som Sistema, Savage Skulls, Oliver Twizt, Jamie Fanatic, Douster, Boy 8-Bit, and Popo.
Diplo and Switch collaborated for an EP under the moniker Major Lazer, and the two set out to Jamaica to find the unique sound that would go on and become the signature Major Lazer sound.
The resulting record “Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do” featured vocals from Santigold, Amanda Blank, Nina Sky, Ricky Blaze and more.The track “Pon De Floor” from “Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do” was sampled for Beyoncé’s single “Run the World (Girls)”.
Major Lazer’s first album was followed up with an EP, Lazers Never Die, which was released in 2010.
A second album, Free the Universe, featured artists such as Ezra Koenig, Bruno Mars, Ward 21, Wyclef, The Partysquad, Shaggy, Tyga, Flux Pavilion and Wynter Gordon.
Their third album, Peace Is the Mission, was released on June 1, 2015. It features collaborations with Ariana Grande, MØ, Ellie Goulding, 2 Chainz and more. The collaboration with MØ went on to become the biggest global hit of 2015, “Lean On”.
2013 saw the birth of Jack Ü, a collaboration between Diplo and Skrillex. They released their first record in February 2015, featuring collaborations with Justin Bieber, 2 Chainz, and Kiesza among others.
They also closed the 2015 edition of Ultra Miami with a standout performance that saw the likes of Justin Bieber on stage.
February 19th will see Diplo bring his ‘Mad Decent Block Party’ to Mumbai. We wish him all the best for this many more things to come in 2016!