The movement to get Diplodocus a sidewalk star on Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts should just about be in effect now that his debut, Florida, is dropping. His work behind the decks alongside Low Budget as the unstoppable deejay team Hollertronix has graced many-a-Philly-shindig; their Never Scared mixtape is a necessary ass-shaker component. Hollertronix doesn’t recognize any musical boundaries (or physical boundaries, for that matter, lugging their crates all over the bleedin’ world). Diplo ventures on his own with Florida, but he continues along the same fearless path he always has, and with as much success.
It’s no surprise that the man who allows T.I. to follow the Stone Roses in front of a crowd of the beautiful and brazenly drunk has crafted this daring deejay record. Only three of the eleven tracks have vocals, but it’s as though there’s a longer list of songs here. Just as he does on his promo mix for Rjd2’s Since We Last Spoke or with Hollertronix, Diplo crowds the tracks on Florida with many ideas, the beat changing in mixtape fashion from subtle sounds to dance weaponry that’s spun out of control.
Every track is gold. Diplo takes us through sultry Florida swampland in the opener, dusting off a rolling beat and a folk guitar riff over ethereal crickets and locusts, getting as close as possible to malaria and stagnant water without requiring us to get inoculated. Diplo grew up in Florida; he’s sharing a piece of his childhood via beats and a mess of sounds that continue into the second track, where huge stuttering drums start and stop over looped strings and hot organ licks that peek around corners.
When Martina Topley-Bird enters on “Into the Sun,” Diplo winds “Strawberry Fields” flutes backward over hypnotic pulsing rhythms for more than five minutes, but it’s not long enough. The U.K. Mercury Prize-nominated Topley-Bird floats wonderfully over this haunting down-tempo experiment, peaking in her skyrocketing chorus. This is Diplo’s strongest suit: pulling off cuts that sound like bedroom four-track jaunts, only to be followed by meandering skyward electronica.
He drops epic dance-floor beats over the still-swampy foghorn and what sounds like rain sticks in “Money Power Respect,” only to be interrupted by one of the album’s well-placed samples and an organ loop that degenerates, detunes and trails off. As if the “Many Men” remix that closes Never Scared isn’t enough to generate hysteria, Diplo’s Florida will get us close enough to the sticky heat of the Sunshine State for just the cost of a record and a case of delicious ice-cold lager. Mmmmm.