Music

Diplo: Decent Work for Decent Pay

It goes in so many different directions that it’s hard to tell what, exactly, Diplo is trying to accomplish by putting it all here in one place.


Diplo

Decent Work for Decent Pay

Subtitle: Selected Works Volume 1
Label: Big Dada
US Release Date: 2009-02-03
UK Release Date: 2009-01-26
Amazon
iTunes

The name “Diplo” is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s cute, easy to remember, and conjures the image of a massive, formidable stomper that’s hard to take down. On the other hand, it refers, quite literally, to a dinosaur, and makes for an easy metaphor if the man who adopts this name should ever lose his Midas touch. Decent Work for Decent Pay collects remixes, productions, and originals from the past four years, providing an overview of the DJ’s dizzying resume of activities. While it certainly doesn’t chronicle the nimble beatsmith’s transmutation into a lumbering beast plodding towards the end, it’s a scattershot compilation, demonstrating that it’s not possible for Diplo to retool everything into gold.

The centerpiece of the album is the remix of M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes”, featuring syrupy Southern rappers Bun B and Rich Boy. At the time this came out, it was a podcaster’s wet dream, and the hipster underground went wild for its third-world-meets-first-world ghetto fabulousness. But now that the tune has gone Top Ten in the U.S., charted worldwide, and been featured in several blockbuster films, even its staunchest advocates have started to move on. Its inclusion here feels more obligatory than anything else, since it’s easily the most well-known track Diplo has dropped of late.

A few of the album’s remixes work well, occasionally surprisingly so considering the underlying material. Bloc Party’s “Where Is Home?” is transformed into a stuttery electro jam reminiscent of XL’s Various Production collective, spinning the song in nervously energetic new directions. Claude von Stroke’s “Whistler” gets a trancey overhaul; Diplo’s version is a bona fide club banger that rivals the booty-quaking force of the original. The whistle-tastic Peter, Bjorn and John tune “Young Folks” receives a dub-flavored treatment that almost makes up for the bore that is the original (sorry, bloggers). The bouncy remix of Samim’s hit “Heater” is pure fun, but it edits out most of the zydeco-flavored accordion that made the song so infectious in the first place.

Elsewhere, things get drearier. A deconstruction of Hot Chip’s “Shake a Fist” breaks the tune down into amusing tidbits, but never really goes anywhere. Perhaps no one on the dance floor will notice, but it’s hard to take seriously if you’re actually trying to listen to it. His take on Spank Rock’s “Put That Pussy on Me” is busier, but no less forgettable, than the original. This, as well as Kano’s “Reload It”, seems to be here more to showcase the emcees than to demonstrate Diplo’s production skills. The remix of “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” is flatly disposable: the world simply didn’t need another take on this song. (In an unexpected bounty, the song will actually be left off of the official release of the album due to legal issues, though it appears on promotional prereleases.)

The disc is most enjoyable on the Diplo originals, where he leans toward the expansive, Shadow-y sound world he fashioned on his 2004 debut, Florida. “200” goes by all too quickly, with its dirgelike chord progression and wispy melody nearly drowned out by a clattering, fuzzed-out beat. “Newsflash”, which kicks off the comp, is an altered version of a track that originally appeared on Florida, and “Way More Brazil” spices up Florida’s “Way More” with a little of the South American electro-funk that he’s championed recently. Some of that work also appears on the album, such as Bonde do Role’s “Solta o Frango” and a remix of CSS’s “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death from Above”, but none of it shines the way “Brazil” does on its own.

Decent Work for Decent Pay is choppy and uneven, as many compilation albums are inevitably going to be. But it goes in so many different directions (some expertly, some unimpressively) that it’s hard to tell what, exactly, Diplo is trying to accomplish by putting it all here in one place. Part of the problem is the choice of substrate; a substantial number of these songs just aren’t that fabulous in the first place, and playing with the beats can only do so much for them. The disc proves that Diplo is in no danger of imminent extinction -- but a little raptor-like focus, and a better diet, wouldn’t hurt.

5


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
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

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.

Books

Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.

Music

Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.

Film

Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.

Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Music

The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Music

Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.

Music

​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

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.