Video: Inside Justin Bieber’s Hotel After-Party With Diplo and Riff Raff

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Mission Accomplished: Diplo Wins

In the words of that great and wise orator Harvey Dent, “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Well, unless you’re Diplo. As recently as mid-2010, arguing about Diplo really was a thing that people did. Was he a preternaturally prescient cool kid, effortlessly parachuting into ’bout-to-blow micro-scenes, tirelessly channeling the sounds of Young America, and deftly synthesizing potent little cultural scraps into something big and bright and palatable? Or was he a vampire, shamelessly slurping on tyro blood, manipulating its hemoglobin to his own crass ends? That argument is over. In the late days of 2013 A.D., the Diplo Wars have subsided. And, yeah: He won.

Even in victory, the anguished cries of “inappropriate cultural appropriation!” will never be far from whence he steps. And there’ll always be something — perhaps his recent Instagram advocacy of creepily faceless twerk videos? — to rail on him for. But it’s hard to argue that Wesley “Diplo” Pentz is just some style-jacking dilettante. Here’s a sliver of his résumé: “Paper Planes,” the closest M.I.A. ever came to world domination. Nicola Roberts’s “Beat of My Drum,” the greatest throwaway Eurotrash jam you’ve never heard. “Look at Me Now,” a song so undeniable it must touch even the decimated soul of Chris Brown’s parole officer. The slippery sounds of Major Lazer, from “Pon de Floor” to “Keep It Goin Louder” to “Get Free.” And — be still my beating heart — Usher’s “Climax,” as sublime a three minutes and 53 seconds as we’ve ever deserved. History His production discography has absolved him. Put simply: Dude’s got joints.

He has cracked the star-producer stratosphere: Bieber calls. Katy calls. Beyoncé calls. Meanwhile, the rise of EDM has only made him more powerful. Diplo can crush the young masses at Electric Daisy Carnival with Major Lazer, he can drop the new Rich Homie Quan in his DJ set at the after-party, and then he can get into the G5 and fly to Macau/Monte Carlo/the moon to explain it all to whichever pop monolith is paying him handsomely to do so. Like it or not, this man will continue to have a big hand in both your pop-radio playlist and the music to which your little cousins chug Molly water.

This summer, we caught up with Diplo in Brooklyn. The Mad Decent Block Party was in town; in fact, from the window of his Williamsburg hotel room, we could see the parking lot where it was being held swarmed by people. It was early in the evening, and Major Lazer’s headlining set was hours away. But the kids were already out there, losing their shit.

—Amos Barshad

Filed Under: Amos Barshad, Diplo, Grantland Channel, Justin Bieber