Updated: Dec 29, 2020
Diplo is one of the most well known DJs of this generation. His talent can be found in many chart-toppers, and producing for artists including Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Shakira, and Snoop Dogg. But he’s also known for being found under other guises such as, Major Lazer, Jack Ü, LSD, Silk City, and his birth name Thomas Wesley. His stage name, Diplo, is actually short for Diplodocus, a genus of a late Jurassic dinosaur, how cool is that?
His latest release on May 29th of this year, is the second studio release under his moniker, Diplo Presents Thomas Wesley Chapter One: Snake Oil. This collaboration country album seems to be quite a reach, hopping on the country bandwagon of trendiness. Diplo is an artist known for electronica hits and throbbing beats, so this idea even seems a little out of his toolbox; although having a country crossover album while country is gaining a lot of traction, seems like it could be a smart business and creative venture. But let’s take a listen shall we?
The first track, ‘Intro (feat. Orville Peck)’, while sounding like a Hidden Valley Ranch commercial, appears to have some promise with Peck’s musing “Sometimes in life, what you wanna do/Isn't necessarily what you're gonna do.” But this topic is really never extrapolated on. The following track titles seem to have familiar country music notions, ‘Heartless,’ ‘Lonely,’ ‘Hometown,’ but some of the artists seem less convincing. The fourth song of the album took me by surprise, ‘Lonely’ with the Jonas Brothers. The Jo Bros are a strange fit for a country album, it appears that this addition could have been more one for clout, as the track does not seem to have any country elements aside from the subject matter of the lyrics. Shortly after we have a tune called ‘Do Si Do (feat. Blanco Brown)’, who’s recently found popularity through his ‘Cotton-eyed Joe’ style song, ‘The Git Up.’ The song begins with an innocent whistling, before Brown gently enters with a hushed, raspy, bedroom voice singing, “Favorite part of a honkey-tonk/ them Daisy Dukes and badonkadonks.” The texture of this singing style for this track, seems both erroneous and hysterical.
Luckily not all tracks are as off-putting. ‘On Mine (feat. Noah Cyrus),’ is an eloquently produced track nuzzled right in Cyrus’s vocal range. Diplo is also able to comb in components of country, like a western twangy guitar, to highlight the track instead of sacrificing quality. The biggest hit of the album, ‘Heartless,’ is actually featured twice, once with country star Morgan Wallen, and the second with singer-songwriter, Julia Michaels. Released in 2019, and prior to the album, this track blends dance beats, with country inflections, all while being just plain catchy. Even ‘Hometown (Feat. Zac Brown and Danielle Bradbery)’ is a convincing country number, complete with lyrics about taking your beau to see where you’ve grown up, and pop production. Can you guess what the ending track is? Of course it’s none other than a remix of the most notorious and debated country crossover, ‘Old Town Road.’ After hearing this ending track, it feels as though this crossover could have sparked the rest of the collaborations, although this club rendition stripped all the country that was left in this tune.
LONG STORY SHORT: Diplo tried to sneakily slither his way into the country genre, but this snake just missed the mark.