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DIPLO: 128 Beats Per Minute

Diplo’s new book chronicles his amazing journey through an eclectic array of musical genres via pristine photography by Shane McCauley.

Words: Zoy Britton
Images: Shane McCauley

Words: Zoy Britton
Images: Shane McCauley

Flip past the bright aquamarine cover of 128 Beats Per Minute: Diplo’s Visual Guide to Music, Culture, and Everything in Between to the Introduction page, and you run into a photo of uber artistic types clad in white tees seated beside the super-crisp Dubb Step producer in a button-up. (Dare we mention the foreward is written by Fashion it-boy Alexander Wang…) Nee Thomas Wesley Pentz, world-renowned, Grammy-nominated DJ Diplo is one-half of the production duo Major Lazer and founder of Indie music label Mad Decent. And if you didn’t know that, then you’ve been living under a rock as Diplo has long set himself apart from the bevy of post-millennium DJs-cum-producers with his signature upbeat Techno-Tronic beats and ear for eclectic radio bangers. His extensive resume includes Chris Brown, Azealia Banks and pretty much everybody and their mama. Lest we forget M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” and Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” as two of his crowning achievements.

The book’s introduction reads: “In 2003 Fader magazine asked my friend…independent music ambassador Sean Agnew, what was happening in Philadelphia…. Five years later, the label Mad Decent had been initiated…. Seven years, thirty-two countries, sixty thousand photos, and a million miles later, here is what we’ve been doing. This book is a living document of parts of my life…”

From his full immersion into the Reggae scene of Jamaica (those influences shine through in much of Major Lazer’s production work, like their 2009 dancehall hit “’Pon de Floor” featuring Vybz Kartel) to the hyper active Electro/Techno scene of Israel/Tel Aviv, Diplo’s eclectic music taste not only makes itself apparent in his music but has also clearly forced the hand of mainstream acceptance. Take for instance his Mad Decent label, through it Diplo has helped to underscore the musical impact of genres such as Brazilian Baile Funk and Angolan Kuduro by bringing them to public light at major dance clubs all over the world. And capturing these moments is what 128 Beats does best.

Each chapter serves a different cultural route, touching upon almost every continent from Asia, to Europe and South America, complete with what could best be titled as Diplo’s written commentary on the people and their various lifestyles. “Every city has its own cultural movement,” Diplo shares inside the books pages. “History, fashion, and art—all of which is constantly evolving into something different.” However powerful his words, the book remains centered on rare, magnificent pictorials snapped by New York-based photographer Shane McCauley (Annie Leibovitz’s former assistant) and the star power Diplo seems to attract effortlessly. Like a polka-dot romper clad Amanda Blank and a pum-pum shorts-rocking Maluca double-dutching together at the inaugural Mad Decent block party back in 2008 in Philadelphia. Or in real life, just a few days ago, when NYC’s fashion set including genre-bender Theophilus London, rallied in support of Diplo’s book release at an exclusive exhibit opening party held at Milk Studios. And that’s just the half of it.

The adventures of Diplo and Shane and continue via their cultural column for Vanity Fair.To get in on the action in the meantime, purchase Diplo’s book, 128 Beats Per Minute, right nowon Amazon HERE.

Follow Diplo on Twitter, @Diplo

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