When it comes to producer Diplo, there is no such thing as a “small project.” The LA-based artist is best known for hits like “Lean On,” “Revolution” and “Where Are U Now.” The man is rolling in platinum records, with at least 11 in the U.S. alone. Every year, at least one of his songs goes viral, such as “Welcome to the Party,” which has amassed 1.7 million views in two days and is still growing. Diplo is no stranger to rap production; in the past, he has collaborated with artists such as 2 Chainz, Waka Flocka Flame, Travi$
Scott and Pusha T. This EP stands out because a majority of the featured artists have very recently made names for themselves, as well as Diplo venturing into production styles that are not in his usual repertoire. So, with features from the likes of Lil Xan, Desiigner, Trippie Redd, DRAM, Santigold, Lil Yachty, MØ and Goldlink, his latest EP, “California,” is destined to have tracks that will be blasting on the radio all summer long.
The album opens with “Worry No More” featuring Lil Yachty and Santigold. Santigold is an unlikely collaborator, as she is usually in the alternative-electronic genre with hits such as “Disparate Youth” and “Lights Out.” However, Santigold provides this track with two energetic, heavily-autotuned verses, as well as a guitar pluck that is much more reminiscent of her own music. Lil Yachty maintains his reputation of being the worst solo artist and the best feature—made apparent by “Lil Boat 2” and “Broccoli”—with his unique vocals carrying the chorus and one of the verses.
The second track of the EP, “Suicidal,” is darker and features Desiigner. This track is the Achilles’ heel of the six tracks of the EP, with Desiigner’s unintelligible vocals spewing meaningless lyrics over a melodic but predictable beat. With the chosen title, one would guess that what Desiigner is trying to convey is likely very meaningful to him. But after hearing him slur “I fall in buildings/I fall in billions/I fall in millions/I
fall in trillions/See they suicidal,” it soon becomes abundantly clear that Desiigner is not rapping—if it can be qualified as that—about anything of substance. Instead, he chooses to brag about money and cars through the lens of a very sensitive topic.
But, lo and behold: a comeback with track three! Diplo is joined by DRAM to make a soul-electronic hybrid that is miles out of both DRAM and Diplo’s usual range. A heavy kick and reverb-filled snare march forward under the high pitched noodling of an electric guitar as DRAM’s first slow vocals float through the mix. As the chorus picks up, DRAM reaches into a soulful chorus and a falsetto for his next verse. Although it is new territory for both artists, “Look Back” is surprisingly catchy and rounds out the album. This track is clearly inspired by Anderson .Paak’s “Malibu,” and although it does not live up to the album, it certainly falls into the same realm.
Track four, “Wish,” is arguably the strongest and most unique of the album. Trippie Redd’s semi-screaming vocals somehow tie in perfectly with the light piano and melodica riffs. The ‘80s sounding gated-reverb drums with a trap beat tie together this piece in a way that both maintains an air of relaxation and nostalgia in addition to the aggression and intensity that Trippie Redd never fails to bring to the table.
Although “Color Blind” was first released on Lil Xan’s underwhelming debut album “Total Xanarchy,” it finds its niche much better on “California.” As the song fades in with Lil Xan’s slow, moody vocals, the
classic wobbly future-bass synths begin to fade in underneath a short verse. This is one of the two songs with a drop on the album, and this one hits hard with almost no build, save for a quick two bars of kicks and the full sound of the pulsating synth dominating the soundscape. It is by no means a new sound—the same style was popularized by artists like Flume and Lucian as early as 2014—but “California” has shown that Diplo can make anything his own; this song is no exception.
The final song is a remix from Diplo’s project “Major Lazer” called “Get it Right,” released in 2017. The addition of Goldlink to the track melds perfectly. His verse slips in after the first drop, like it belonged there the entire time. MØ’s catchy vocals and Diplo’s patented energetic, bright drops covered in distorted vocal chops end the album on a note that is perfectly Diplo.
“California” is available for streaming now on all platforms.