Thomas Wesley Pentz Jr., born on November 10, 1978, professionally known as Diplo, stands as an eminent figure in the realm of music. He hails from Tupelo, Mississippi, and has set his roots in the vibrant city of Los Angeles, California. Beyond being an accomplished American DJ, he is a highly regarded record producer. Diplo's influence and contributions to the music industry are extensive and remarkable.
Diplo is the co-creator and lead member of Major Lazer, an electrifying electronic dancehall music project. He is also a key member of the supergroup LSD, alongside the remarkable talents of Sia and Labrinth. His versatility is further demonstrated through his collaboration with the prominent producer and DJ Skrillex in the formation of the electronic duo Jack Ü, and his partnership with Mark Ronson in the creation of Silk City.
Diplo's impact goes beyond his creative work, as he founded and manages the record company Mad Decent. Additionally, he co-founded the non-profit organization Heaps Decent, underscoring his commitment to both the artistic and social dimensions of his career. Interestingly, among his eclectic experiences, Diplo has also worked as a school teacher in Philadelphia, showcasing his diverse talents and interests.
In 2013, Diplo made waves with his EP "Revolution," which debuted at an impressive number 68 on the US Billboard 200. The title track of the EP garnered further recognition by being featured in a Hyundai commercial and included in the WWE 2K16 soundtrack.
Diplo's journey to fame was notably influenced by his collaboration with British musician M.I.A. Her partnership played a pivotal role in providing him with exposure during his early career. This collaboration led to the creation of a captivating Jamaican dancehall project and an animated series titled Major Lazer, co-produced with fellow M.I.A. producer, Switch.
Diplo's portfolio is marked by collaborations with numerous pop artists, including Gwen Stefani, M.I.A., Die Antwoord, Britney Spears, Madonna, Shakira, Beyoncé, No Doubt, Justin Bieber, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Trippie Redd, Chris Brown, CL, G-Dragon, and Poppy. His alias, "Diplo," is a shortened form of "Diplodocus," stemming from his childhood fascination with dinosaurs.
Diplo's birthplace is Tupelo, Mississippi, and he is the son of Barbara Jean (née Cox) and Thomas Pentz. His heritage is of German and English descent, which has significantly influenced his artistic sensibilities. His early exposure to home-grown rap played a crucial role in shaping his unique production style. His formative years were predominantly spent in the vibrant cultural landscape of Miami, where he developed a taste for the distinctive Miami bass genre, an influence that would leave an indelible mark on his production style.
Diplo embarked on his educational journey in 1997, beginning at the University of Central Florida. He later moved to Philadelphia to continue his studies at Temple University, where he first garnered attention as a DJ. His encounters with fellow DJ Low Budget led to the inception of "Hooked on Hollertronix" parties in 2003. These events allowed Diplo and Low Budget to exercise control over their musical selections during DJ gigs in Philadelphia.
The success of the "Hooked on Hollertronix" parties provided them with the platform needed to release mixtapes, both as individual artists and in collaboration. One of these mixtapes, "Never Scared," gained substantial acclaim, even earning recognition from The New York Times as one of the top ten albums of 2003. The "Hollertronix" name became synonymous with parties featuring illustrious guests such as Maluca Mala, Bun B, Spank Rock, M.I.A., and others. The sound of "Hollertronix" is characterized by its eclectic blend of disparate genres, a unique aesthetic designed to captivate and engage audiences.
Diplo continued to evolve his musical style, shifting the focus of his Hollertronix music from a club-oriented aesthetic to a more reflective sound on his solo debut album, "Florida." This album was released under the Ninja Tune imprint, Big Dada Records, and was distributed in two versions, one including a CD and the other incorporating both a CD and a DVD. The DVD was created by System D-128, offering a visual dimension to Diplo's musical creativity. Before "Florida," another experimental DVD titled "Diplo: Banned in Libya" was released by Money Studies, marking the beginning of Diplo's journey as DJ Diplodocus. This 45 rpm record, titled "Thingamajawn," was accompanied by a music video directed by System D-128. Both "Florida" and "Banned in Libya" showcased a unique fusion of Diplo's original music with various other unidentified sources, creating an engaging auditory and visual experience.
Diplo's passion for the Brazilian dance music genre, known as baile funk or favela funk, led to the creation of a series of mixtapes, including "Favela on Blast" and "Favela Strikes Back." These mixtapes played a pivotal role in introducing the infectious rhythms and energy of Brazilian ghetto dance music to the United States.
The success of the "Hooked on Hollertronix" parties eventually paved the way for Diplo to pursue his ultimate goal: building a studio where music could become his full-time focus. To realize this vision, he established "The Mausoleum," a multifaceted creative space in Philadelphia. "The Mausoleum" served as a video studio, recording studio, record label office, gallery, and event space, fostering a thriving artistic community.
Diplo's collaborative journey continued with his partnership with Switch, resulting in the creation of Major Lazer. This project seamlessly integrated influences from Miami Bass and Baile Funk into their high-tech, eclectic productions. Major Lazer's debut record, "Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do," received significant support from already established Jamaican artists such as Vybz Kartel, Elephant Man, and Ms. Thing. The resulting record featured vocal contributions from Santigold, Amanda Blank, Nina Sky, Ricky Blaze, and more. When discussing the Major Lazer project, Diplo described the dancehall sound as the culmination of various influences, including house, soca, oldies, R&B, jazz, all converging in Jamaica. The track "Pon De Floor" from "Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do" was even sampled for Beyoncé's single "Run the World (Girls)."
"Florida," released in 2004, marked Diplo's first studio album. Published under the label Big Dada, this album was groundbreaking, creating a unique genre characterized by the fusion of electronic, reggae, and hip-hop elements.
Diplo is also a notable member of the pop supergroup LSD, which includes Australian singer Sia and English musician Labrinth. Together, they have released four singles: "Genius" (May 3, 2018), "Audio" (May 10, 2018), "Thunderclouds" (August 9, 2018), and "Mountains" (November 1, 2018). "Thunderclouds" was even featured in a commercial for the Samsung Galaxy Note9. Additionally, their singles "Genius" and "Audio" have seen official remixes from producers Banx & Ranx and CID, further expanding their musical influence.
Beyond his musical endeavors, Diplo's passion extends to the world of sports. He is an active and ardent fan of the Los Angeles Clippers, often expressing his support through platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, particularly when attending their games. His love for sports and music intersected in a unique way when he, along with Skrillex and Kai, delivered a captivating performance at the Staples Center during halftime at a Clippers game in 2015, blending his musical talent with his sports enthusiasm.
Diplo's impact on the political landscape is also noteworthy. On February 24, 2016, he publicly endorsed Bernie Sanders as the Democratic presidential nominee. Notably, Sanders' ad titled "It's A Revolution" was soundtracked by Diplo's 2013 track "Revolution," exemplifying the intersection of music and politics.
Diplo's remarkable journey and multifaceted career were further acknowledged when he graced the cover of the American entertainment media magazine Billboard on June 9, 2016. This recognition solidified his status as a prominent and influential figure in the music industry.
In summary, Thomas Wesley Pentz Jr., or Diplo, has left an indelible mark on the music industry through his diverse projects, collaborations, and innovative productions. His career has been marked by creativity, versatility, and a unique ability to blend different musical genres, making him a prominent and influential figure in contemporary music.