Music

Diplo: Random White Dude Be Everywhere

The monumental producer's compilation of recent singles and remixes may be the ideal party playlist, but it fails at just about everything else.


Diplo

Random White Dude Be Everywhere

Label: Mad Decent
US Release Date: 2014-07-29
UK Release Date: 2014-07-28
Amazon
iTunes

EDM gets a far worse reputation than it deserves in some music circles where rockism and unwavering apathy for the mainstream are still pervasive attitudes, but that doesn't mean that the genre doesn't still produce its fair share of stinkers. This is where prolific producer Thomas Pentz, AKA Diplo, comes in, with his new compilation album Random White Dude Be Everywhere, an anthology of seven miscellaneous tracks from the highly sought-after producer's recent output, plus five remixed versions of the same songs. Random White Dude Be Everywhere is a strange one, collecting Diplo's most commercial and clubby EDM music into one tight little package that may or may not have a reason to exist in the first place. It's perfectly calibrated to be the ideal wild college party playlist, and yet, as a conventional compilation record -- or even as a proper showcase of the producer's talents -- it's essentially useless.

For a versatile producer like Diplo, who has backed records by everyone from Beyonce and Usher to Riff Raff and Das Racist, standing out isn't as integral to the magic as blending in, stepping out of the spotlight and driving the credited artist's talents to the foreground. As a collaborator, Diplo is a pop chameleon, impeccably attuned to which attributes of an artist to accentuate and which to mitigate in any given situation, while as the driving force of dub-inflected electronic project Major Lazer, he's restrained and imaginative, even experimental. Listen to his work on Usher's "Climax", ambient and spacious, underlain with just enough tension to give the singer the huge vocal moments he requires; then there's "Paper Planes", bouncy and rhythmic, a perfect backdrop for M.I.A.'s exotic, acerbic chanting. If the success of these career-defining tracks prove anything, it's that few producers are as adept at complementing the world's biggest stars in all the realms of popular music as Diplo.

And yet, unlike much of Diplo's work, none of the songs on Random White Dude Be Everywhere are unique or extraordinary in any perceivable way. It's as though the goal of the set was to compile the producer's blandest, least interesting club tracks to fuel teenagers' EDM playlists, where they will almost certainly disappear into the ether of monotonous, atonal house and dubstep bangers. At the end of the day, there is no ostensible reason for these songs to be compiled and re-released together except to wheelbarrow in mountains of "DayGlo"-soaked dollars. Perhaps Diplo is no longer satisfied to be out of the spotlight, cast behind the silhouette of bigger stars; he wants name recognition, branding, and world-class, A-list producer status. But could putting his name on a set of songs so vacuous and commercially sloppy actually get him there?

"Revolution", "Biggie Bounce", and the Waka Flocka Flame featured "Techno" have big drops that basically guarantee regular club rotation, but almost everything in the club has a big drop, and Diplo doesn't bother to differentiate his music from the hundreds of fresh-off-the-bus bedroom producers throwing up mixes on Soundcloud daily. "Boy Oh Boy" cripples whatever pulsating energy it has when it trips into a slower tempo halfway in, effectively removing any of its uptempo dance grooves to reveal just how flat and lifeless its rigid synth-and-drum assault actually is. It's hard to imagine that shift going over particularly well even in a club full of drug-fueled millennials, and in any other context, it's just deflating.

On the other side of the spectrum, the joys of the attention-deficit and sample-heavy construction of "Freak" are slight but perceptible, and even when the typical melodramatic synths scream their way through the imaginative mosaic, the song at least transforms itself about every 16 bars, making it mobile enough to distract from the formulaic sonics for one relieving moment. Of course, it's still not enough.

The utterly dispensable guest rappers and singers put as little effort into their performances as the producer puts into the compositions, and the five included remixes do nothing to salvage Diplo's hopelessly banal material. Everything coming out of this set is purely forgettable and half-baked to the point that, when people unjustly malign the EDM genre wholesale, this album could be held up as a prime example to prove that, hey, maybe they do have a point after all. It's not only bad for the reputation of EDM, or even all electronic music in general -- it's the kind of irritating, vapid, routine music that puts a stain on all of pop culture, a degrading blemish that vastly outsizes any worth it might otherwise have.

It's hard to imagine anyone actually appreciating this collection. Fans of the genre most likely already know these songs or, if not, will gain very little by seeking them out. There are no standout tracks, no big production flourishes, and nothing that signals that there is an impeccably talented artist hiding behind this anthology. In simpler terms: whatever Diplo wanted to accomplish with this compilation, it's not a success on any level.

2


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.

Books

Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.

Music

Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Music

Hip-Hop's Raashan Ahmad Talks About His Place in 'The Sun'

On his latest work,The Sun, rapper Raashan Ahmad brings his irrepressible charisma to this set of Afrobeat-influenced hip-hop.

Music

Between the Buried and Me's Baby Pictures Star in 'The Silent Circus'

The Silent Circus shows Between the Buried and Me developing towards the progressive metal titans they would eventually become.

Music

The Chad Taylor Trio Get Funky and Fiery on 'The Daily Biological'

A nimble jazz power trio of drums, tenor sax, and piano, the Chad Taylor Trio is free and fun, funky and fiery on The Daily Biological.

Music

Vistas' 'Everything Changes in the End' Is Catchy and Fun Guitar Rock

Vistas' debut, Everything Changes in the End, features bright rock music that pulls influences from power-pop and indie rock.

Film

In Amy Seimetz's 'She Dies Tomorrow', Death Is Neither Delusion Nor Denial

Amy Seimetz's She Dies Tomorrow makes one wonder, is it possible for cinema to authentically convey a dream, or like death, is it something beyond our control?

Music

Maestro Gamin and Aeks' Latest EP Delivers LA Hip-Hop Cool (premiere + interview)

MaestroAeks' Sapodigo is a collection of blunted hip-hop tunes, sometimes nudging a fulsome boom-bap and other times trading on laid-back, mellow grooves.

Music

Soul Blues' Sugaray Rayford Delivers a "Homemade Disaster" (premiere + Q&A)

What was going to be a year of touring and building Sugaray Rayford's fanbase has turned into a year of staying home and reaching out to fans from his Arizona home.

Music

Titan to Tachyons' Experimental Heaviness on Full Display via "Earth, And Squidless" (premiere)

Featuring current members of Imperial Triumphant, Titan to Tachyons break incredible new ground in the realm of heavy music.

Music

Jerry Leger Teams with Moby Grape's Don Stevenson for "Halfway 'Til Gone" (premiere)

Reminiscent of Lee Hazlewood and the Everly Brothers, Jerry Leger's "Halfway 'Til Gone" is available on all streaming platforms on 6 August.

Music

The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.

Books

John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.

Music

Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.

Music

Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.