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8 Diplo songs you should know

Diplo is coming to town and all your friends are going. You know he's a big deal, but you're not sure if you could name a song he did if someone asked. Here are some songs from Diplo's career that you likely know, even if you didn't know he was involved with them. (Warning, audio and video may be NSFW)

M.I.A. – "Paper Planes" (2007)

M.I.A.'s 2004 mixtape, "Piracy Funds Terrorism," was a Diplo-produced project featuring unreleased songs, mashups and remixes from the British rapper and singer. A Diplo track, "Bucky Done Gun," also appeared on her debut album. That early collaboration led to "Paper Planes." The Clash-sampling track appeared in the trailer for "Pineapple Express" and on M.I.A.'s second album. Co-produced by Diplo and Switch, "Paper Planes" earned a 2009 Grammy nomination for Record of the Year, went platinum three times and charted around the world, including no. 10 on Billboard's Top 40. I still play this one in my sets; I don't know if it's the gunshots or the sing-a-long-ready chorus, but everyone knows this song and it's fun to dance to.

 

Major Lazer – "Pon De Floor" (2009)

Diplo and Switch went on to form Major Lazer, releasing a full-length album of their productions paired with Jamaican artists. If you didn't catch "Pon De Floor" or its psychedelic video, you may have heard "Run the World (Girls)" by Beyoncé. Built on a sample of the Major Lazer song, Bey's track went platinum in the U.S. and topped the U.S. Hot Dance Club Song chart. I don't give this one as much run as I used to, but it still bangs and the Ludachrist "Pon De Foley" remix with Harold Faltermeyer is extra ridiculous.

 

Chris Brown feat. Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes – "Look at Me Now" (2012)

Another Diplo co-production (also credited are Afrojack and Free School), another Grammy nomination (best rap performance and best rap song, 2012), this track went platinum four times, topping Billboard's U.S. rap and R&B charts and hitting 29 on the Top 40. This beat is crazy and it was great to play out — just try and keep up with Busta when he starts ripping.

Usher – "Climax" (2012)

Unlike the higher energy dance-ready tracks on this list, "Climax" is a moody, introspective R&B cut. Diplo's production is lush but minimal, and Usher sounds emotional and raw. It's a really cool record and I was pleasantly surprised with as much love as it got on commercial radio. It won Usher a 2013 Grammy for Best R&B Performance (Diplo was nominated for Producer of the Year but didn't win) and topped hip-hop and R&B charts. It still works as a slow jam and Diplo even trapped it out in a remix with Flosstradamus.

 

Diplo feat. Nicky Da B – "Express Yourself" (2012)

Standing on your head and shaking your butt is no easy feat. A good beat can help facilitate maximum gyration and it's only fitting that "Express Yourself" earned its status as a twerking anthem with plenty of bass and a great hand clap. It's also enjoyed by Doritos-crunching valets.

Diplo & Sleepy Tom – “Be Right There” (2015)

This one got regular burn on Top 40 radio, including up here in Alaska. It’s a co-production with Sleepy Tom that reimagines Jade’s ’92 R&B jam “Don’t Walk Away” with juiced up synths and bass. Please don’t start “who did it better” arguments on the internet (there are no winners in those) just turn it up and dance.

Jack Ü featuring Justin Bieber – “Where Are Ü Now” (2015)

Diplo teamed up with fellow super producer Skrillex to form Jack Ü and it was almost like they decided to make Justin Bieber cool again just to prove they could do whatever they wanted. They ended up winning Grammys for Best Dance Recording (for this song) as well as Best Dance / Electronic Album. Diplo was also nominated for Producer of the Year again. He didn’t win, but he did create the first Bieber song you aren’t embarrassed to admit you enjoy.

Major Lazer & DJ Snake – “Lean On” (2015)

Peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, the track turned down by both Rihanna and Nicki Minaj went on to be the most-streamed song of all time on Spotify (more than 600 million plays). Switch is no longer in Major Lazer, but Diplo had some help on this track from DJ Snake (“Turn Down for What”). I play this one out several times a week and I’m still not completely sick of it, which almost never happens, especially with newer songs.

Spencer Shroyer performs locally as DJ Spencer Lee and is one of the openers at the upcoming Diplaska show featuring Diplo, RL Grime, Loudpvck and Astronomar. You can find him online at djspencerlee.com

 

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