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COVER STORY

Digging in the dirt

Musical mastermind Diplo comes home. But is he a pioneer or a plunderer?

Photo: , License: N/A

Photo: , License: N/A


Today’s agenda of producing for Britney and Beyoncé is a financial and creative chasm away from the niche music that defines the Mad Decent roster.

“It’s hard to market this stuff,” says Diplo, sounding genuinely disappointed. “You can’t just go out there and take the music.” He talks proudly about helping Baltimore’s DJ Blaqstarr and Rye Rye clock more than one million YouTube views for the video for “Shake It to the Ground,” which cost $2,000 to make, and facilitating New Orleans bounce artist Big Freedia’s show in New York City. “We try to do our best,” he says of Mad Decent’s mentality. In many ways, Diplo is still trading in “weird shit” – he’s just no longer selling to a strictly local audience.

As Diplo prepares to park and enter the recording studio, he asks for a final question. Serial platinum-selling producers have exacting schedules, after all. The question is a simple one: “What’s the biggest misconception people have about you?” His answer elicits some sort of a Diplo truism – whether you take it as being deliberately contrary, self-deprecating, candidly honest or showing an innate understanding of the power, potential and limits of a DJ’s skilled ear.

“That, um, I’m talented,” he says. “I’m really not. I’m faking it.”

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