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Diplo, 2014
Background information
Birth name Thomas Wesley Pentz
Born (1978-11-10) November 10, 1978
Origin Tupelo, Mississippi, United States[1]
Genres EDM, trap
  • DJ
  • record producer
  • rapper
  • songwriter
Years active 2002–present
Associated acts
Website .comdiplo

Thomas Wesley Pentz (born November 10, 1978),[2] better known by his stage name Diplo, is an American DJ, record producer, rapper and songwriter based in dancehall music project, Major Lazer. His 2013 EP Revolution debuted at number 68 on the US Billboard 200.

During his rise to fame, Diplo worked with British musician M.I.A., an artist who is credited with giving him exposure in his early career. Later, he and fellow M.I.A. producer Switch created a Jamaican dancehall project and cartoon series titled Major Lazer.[3] Since then, Diplo has worked on production and mixtape projects with many other notable pop artists, such as Britney Spears, Madonna, Shakira, Beyoncé, No Doubt, Justin Bieber, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Chris Brown, CL and G-Dragon.[4][5][6][7][8] His alias, short for Diplodocus, derives from his childhood fascination with dinosaurs.[9] He is the co-producer of several tracks on Madonna's 2015 album Rebel Heart and he collaborated with Skrillex to create the duo Jack Ü.


  • Career 1
    • DJ and Hooked on Hollertronix 1.1
    • M.I.A. 1.2
    • Mad Decent 1.3
    • Major Lazer 1.4
    • Jack Ü 1.5
    • Additional work 1.6
  • Personal life 2
  • Discography 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


DJ and Hooked on Hollertronix

Diplo was born on November 10, 1978 in Bun B, Lil Jon, Drama, M.I.A., Björk, Busta Rhymes, and others.[7][20]

Diplo accentuated the club aesthetic of his Hollertronix music for a more reflective sound on his solo debut, Florida, which was released on the Ninja Tune imprint, Big Dada Records.[21] The album Florida was pressed twice, first with a CD and the second with a CD and DVD. The DVD was created by System D-128, another artist who has collaborated with Diplo on some audio and video projects. Before Florida’s DVD accompaniment, another DVD surfaced called Diplo: "Banned in Libya" which was released by Money Studies, the first label to release a solo project by Diplo under his original DJ name Diplodocus. It was a 45 rpm record called "Thingamajawn" for which there is also a music video System D-128 directed. Similar to the Florida DVD, "Banned in Libya" is an experimental audio and video mix of some of Diplo's original music blended with a number of other unidentified sources. His particular affinity for one genre of music called baile funk (or favela funk) would spawn a series of mixtapes (Favela on Blast, Favela Strikes Back), which served to bring the Brazilian dance music of the ghettos to the United States.[17]

It was not long before his Hooked on Hollertronix parties would provide him the success necessary to move to the next logical step and build a studio where music would become his full-time focus. With this goal in mind, Diplo built "The Mausoleum," a video studio, recording studio, record label office, gallery, and event space in Philadelphia.[22] Since its inception, The Mausoleum has become the home to recordings by artists like Christina Aguilera, Shakira, M.I.A., Santigold, Spank Rock, Plastic Little, Blaqstarr, Paper Route Gangstaz, and hosted concerts by Glass Candy, Skream, Boys Noize, Nicos Gun, and more.[22]


After hearing one of his songs in 2004, M.I.A. approached Diplo when he was DJing one night at the Fabric Club in London.[23] Coincidentally, Diplo was playing her songs "Galang" and "Fire Fire" as she entered the club, which he got from a worker at i-D magazine.[23][24] Diplo added, "She came through and she wanted to meet me 'cause she'd heard my single and the funk mix from one of her A&Rs and she just thought I was right up her alley. Besides me being a white dude from Florida and her being a Sri Lankan girl in England, everything else was the same: [We were both] film graduates, [listened to] all the same music when we were kids, were going in the same direction right now in music, it was amazing... I always wanted to make a beat with her, but all my beats were really shitty at the time."[24][25] The two eventually collaborated on a mixtape, Piracy Funds Terrorism Vol. 1., where Arular track acapellas were mashed with other artists' songs and was mentioned as ‘Albums of the Year’ from the New York Times and Pitchfork Media.[24][26] The two became romantically involved for five years[27] and continued to work together after the release and he toured as a DJ on her 2005 Arular Tour.

Diplo would continue to work with M.I.A. and, through her, meet London DJ Switch; together they created the Grammy nominated track ‘Paper Planes’, peaking at No.4 on the Billboard US Hot 100.[28] In 2015, during an interview with Rolling Stone, M.I.A said that Diplo resented her rise to fame in 2005, that he tried to hold her back, and fought with her about becoming successful.[29]

Mad Decent

From this, Diplo went from an unknown DJ to taking off as a producer, landing him collaborations with artists like Shakira, Robyn, Kid Cudi, Bruno Mars, No Doubt and Snoop Dogg, as well as work with Maluca, Kid Sister, Die Antwoord, Alex Clare, Rolo Tomassi, Amanda Blank and Dark Meat. After taking a trip to Brazil to investigate the favela music scene,[5] and fascinated with the energy the scene had to offer, Diplo decided to import a dance-funk group Bonde do Rolê from Brazil for release on his Mad Decent record label (also housed within ‘The Mausoleum’).[30] This group would serve to define funk carioca in the United States, spawning a host of others to join the movement. Diplo also spent some time documenting the music, and the favelas of Brazil[31]

Although favela funk remained an interest (the Favela on Blast documentary just saw release in 2009), his Mad Decent imprint would serve as a blank palette for Diplo to showcase the myriad different sounds he had come across while touring around the world.[16] September 2009 even saw Diplo travel to China to play with Split Works.[32] Diplo quickly developed a reputation for his extensive touring. In the April 2010 issue of Rolling Stone, Diplo was touted as one of ’40 Reasons to be Excited About Music’.[33] This kind of jet setting pushed his label far beyond the favela funk genre with which it initially began. Since its foundation in 2005[34] Diplo’s Mad Decent label has released music by Santigold, Baauer, Lil’ Jon, Gucci Mane, Peter Bjorn and John, Rusko, Bosco Delrey, Buraka Som Sistema, Savage Skulls, Oliver Twizt, Jamie Fanatic, Douster, Boy 8-Bit, and Popo.[35][36]

Major Lazer

Diplo performing live

Diplo’s first collaborative full-length record was with Switch, this time under the guise Major Lazer. After landing a deal with Downtown Records before even recording a note of music, Diplo & Switch set out for Jamaica to record a project that, like most of Diplo’s projects before it, would highlight the little-known subgenres, this time of Jamaica’s dancehall scene.[28] The two received support by many already established Jamaican artists such as Vybz Kartel, Elephant Man and Ms. Thing, and the resulting record Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do also featured vocals from Santigold, Amanda Blank, Nina Sky, Ricky Blaze and more.[37] When discussing the Major Lazer project, Diplo described the dancehall sound as being " the end of the world, all the little influences—house, soca, oldies, R&B, jazz—it all ends up in Jamaica."[38] The track "Pon De Floor" from Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do was sampled for Beyoncé's single "Run the World (Girls)".[39]

Major Lazer's first album was followed up with an EP, Lazers Never Die, which was released in 2010. A second album, Free The Universe, was scheduled to be released in November 2012 but was delayed to February 2013, and then to April 15. It features artists such as Ezra Koenig, Bruno Mars, Ward 21, Wyclef, The Partysquad, Shaggy, Tyga, Flux Pavilion and Wynter Gordon.[40] Their third album, Peace is the Mission, was released on June 1, 2015. It features collaborations with Ariana Grande, , Ellie Goulding, 2 Chainz and more.[41]

Jack Ü

Jack Ü is a duo made up of Missy Elliott. On March 29th 2015 Jack Ü closed main stage at Ultra Music Festival in Miami

On February 11, 2015, Diplo released a short Instagram video for a Jack Ü and Missy Elliott collaboration,[43] incorporating illustrator Rebecca Mock's artwork without permission. When confronted on Twitter, he credited Mock but responded with an offensive, sexually explicit tweet.[44]

Additional work

Beyond Major Lazer and Mad Decent, Diplo has continued to show support for 'all the little influences', the lesser-known music scenes around the globe. Most recently his focus shifted to the ‘Bounce’ scene in New Orleans, Louisiana for a television piece commissioned by[45] Diplo was nominated for Non-Classical Producer of the Year at the 55th Grammy Awards.[46] As of 2012 Diplo has a late night show on BBC Radio 1 / 1Xtra on Sundays 0100 – 0300 called 'Diplo and Friends' where he curates mixes from some of biggest names in dance music.[47] Diplo also has several syndicated Diplo and Friends shows in the United States in Boston, Bakersfield, Cleveland, Columbus, Las Vegas, Spokane, Albuquerque, Lafayette, Denver, and most notably on Los Angeles' 98.7 every Sunday at 9pm.[48]

Personal life

Diplo dated British-Sri Lankan singer and rapper M.I.A. from 2003 to 2008.[49] He has two sons with Kathryn Lockhart: Lockett (2010) and Lazer Lee Louis Pentz (2014).[50]


Studio albums
Compilation albums
  • Diplo Rhythm (2004)
  • Revolution (2013)
  • "Epistomology Suite" b/w "Summer's Gonna Hurt You" (2003)
  • "Blow Your Head" (2008)
  • "Hey" (2009) (with Laidback Luke)
  • "Get Off" (2009) (with Blaqstarr)
  • "U Don't Like Me" (2010) (with Lil Jon)
  • "Express Yourself" (2012)


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  2. ^ Cordor, Cyril. "Diplo – Biography".  
  3. ^ Gordon, Jeremy (22 August 2014). "Major Lazer Cartoon Coming to Fox, Featuring Music From Cat Power and RiFF RAFF". Pitchfork. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
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  12. ^ "Gary-L-Krebs-Virginia-Beach - User Trees -". Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
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  14. ^ "Diplo". Red Bull Music Academy Radio. Retrieved November 8, 2014. 
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  18. ^ Sanneh, Kelefa. (December 28, 2003) MUSIC – THE HIGHS – MUSIC – THE HIGHS – The Albums and Songs of the Year –Maluca Mala Retrieved on October 23, 2010.
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  22. ^ a b phrequency. phrequency (November 12, 2008). Retrieved on October 23, 2010.
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  24. ^ a b c Pytlik, Mark (April 4, 2005). "Interview: Diplo".  
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  26. ^ Booty Call – Page 1 – Music – New York. Village Voice (December 14, 2004). Retrieved on October 23, 2010.
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  29. ^ Arular' 10 Years Later: M.I.A. Reflects on Globe-Shaking Debut"'". Rolling Stone. 20 March 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2015. 
  30. ^ Made In South America « The FADER. (June 15, 2006). Retrieved on October 23, 2010.
  31. ^ Diplo Talks M.I.A.'s Ideal Sound, 'Lazers Never Die'. (September 14, 2009). Retrieved on October 23, 2010.
  32. ^ "Diplo + Steve Aoki in Beijing 2009_Split Works". Retrieved 2013-04-17. 
  33. ^ 40 Reasons to Be Excited About Music: New Issue of Rolling Stone | Rolling Stone Music. (April 14, 2010). Retrieved on October 23, 2010.
  34. ^ Mad Decent – CDs and Vinyl at Discogs. Retrieved on October 23, 2010.
  35. ^ "Releases". Mad Decent. Retrieved 2012-06-04. 
  36. ^ Diplo's Mad Decent Label Teams Up With Downtown Recordings. Pitchfork (March 31, 2009). Retrieved on October 23, 2010.
  37. ^ Mos Def – The Ecstatic. Retrieved on October 23, 2010.
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  39. ^ "'"Beyoncé Drops Official Version Of 'Run The World (Girls). MTV. April 21, 2011. Retrieved April 21, 2011. 
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  41. ^ "Major Lazer Announce Third Album 'Peace is the Mission' feat. Ariana Grande, Ellie Goulding & More". Billboard. March 23, 2015. Retrieved June 21, 2015. 
  42. ^ a b Lancaster, Elizabeth. "Diplo And Skrillex Reveal Their Surprising New Group: Jack U". News. (accessed October 6, 2014).
  43. ^ "Diplo is beefing with everyone on Twitter right now". inthemix. 12 February 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  44. ^ "Diplo steals artwork, responds with misogyny". FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  45. ^ "Blog » Diplo’s "No One is Safe": New Orleans Bounce". Mad Decent. Retrieved 2012-06-04. 
  46. ^ Vasquez, Andres (2012-12-06). "Grammy Nominees Revealed; Frank Ocean, Drake & 2 Chainz Among Those Nominated | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHop DX. Retrieved 2013-04-17. 
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  48. ^ "Diplo & Friends". ALT 98.7. Retrieved November 8, 2014. 
  49. ^ "Exclusive! Diplo Opens Up About Dating M.I.A.". Retrieved November 8, 2014. 
  50. ^ "Diplo Welcomes Second Son With Ex-Girlfriend". MTV News. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 

External links

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