After almost a year of teasing, Diplo has released California, his latest project that takes the form of an EP. Dripping in mournful imagery yet still packing in the summer vibes, the project takes an unusually reflective tone as Diplo contemplates materialism, his own ambitions and suicide. To a more inexperienced producer this fusion of chill and emo between may have been challenging but with over twenty years of producing and DJing, Diplo isn’t in uncharted waters, with his 2004 release Florida adopting a similar introspective break from his more rave orientated discography. It’s executed seamlessly on every track however, with a noticeable awkwardness between Desiigner’s despondent lyrics and the choice of echoey, spacey samples. A similar jarring effect is overbearing on Color Blind, with Lil Xan musing over how new money and success has affected his relationships, to the soundtrack of bass driven EDM.
It’s not all negative by any means; when the theme works, it really works. Tracks like Wish, which features an incredible vocal performance from Trippie Redd that unexpectedly synergises with the piano driven, poppier beat, are a perfect example of this. Similarly, Worry No More plays to Lil Yachty’s vocal strengths, and enhances his downbeat rap flow.
I come away from the project torn. In one respect, the creativity and and cohesive theme of the EP is genre defying and impressive. On the other hand, it does make listeners question why he chose to release this project now. With at least one feature on every track, four of which have been XXL freshmen, or are predicted to be in this years line up, and the switch to a more trending emo rap genre, it begs the question of if this was a move by Diplo to maintain his presence in the music industry and remain relevant. Regardless, it’s mostly enjoyable and at only nineteen minutes long and with just six tracks, it’s worth the listen.