Diplo (Thomas Wesley Pentz) has slowly risen to fame to make his place in the American music industry as one of the most dynamic and talented musical geniuses. The American record producer, rapper, musician, singer and songwriter also happens to be the founder of the Dancehall music group’s project ‘Major Lazer’. His association with DJ Skrillex brought the electronic super duo Jack U into form. He started with his mash up mix tapes and it wasn’t soon before he started being known as the master in the electronic dance music on the local front, playing in local clubs in Philadelphia. He slowly rose to fame among the local party crowd and it didn’t take him too much time after that to start his own club nights along with his friend DJ Low Budget, which they named ‘Hollertronix’. They released a mix tape in 2003 titled ‘Never Scared’ and shot to worldwide fame. Diplo kept working towards his dreams and quickly released his first solo album titled ‘Florida’, which was just the first one of the many successful ventures as an artist. ‘Major Lazer’ became his most popular stint and his international fame rose to the skies.
Childhood & Early Life
Diplo was born Thomas Wesley Pentz on 10th November 1978 in Mississippi to Barbara and Thomas Pentz. He has a German ancestry. He was interested in music since his childhood days, especially rap and electronic music. His first introduction to Miami Bass happened when the family moved to Miami, which later played a major role in shaping up his musical instincts.
His ‘different’ taste in music somehow alienated him from other kids in his neighbourhood as it was the time when rock music was popular and Rap was in its earlier stages of fame.
He finished his college education from University of Central Florida and later went to Philadelphia for further studies. That was there he started his DJing career, although small at the nightclubs and parties. However good he played, he lacked professional experience and slowly learned on the job and grew in popularity.
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He made friends with DJ Low Budget, who shared more or less the same sensibilities with Diplo and their collaboration resulted in formation of Hollertronix, an event night under which both the DJs played what they wanted to play. They played in California nightclubs and used their savings to organize special nights under their moniker. Their collaborative and solo mix tapes became a rage in the Philadelphia night clubs scene and Diplo’s solo effort ‘Never Scared’ went on to achieve the honour to be named as one of the best albums of the year 2003.
After settling down and becoming financially secure through his music, Diplo didn’t waste any time in going further with his next venture, a studio named ‘The Mausoleum’, which later was used by Shakira, Plastic Little and Scream to record their music and videos. Diplo’s fame rose internationally and while DJing in 2004 on one of his remix songs, he got into the good books of M.I.A and she immediately summoned Diplo for a meeting, who was accidently playing one of her songs as she walked in.
The result of their collaboration was the mix tape titled ‘Piracy Funds Terrorism, Vol. 1’ and the album went on to receive so much of raw fame that it was mentioned by New York Times as one of the best albums of the year. Diplo continued working with M.I.A and through her came in contact with DJ Switch, and together they created a single ‘Paper Planes’, which peeked to Billboard 200 top 5 songs list.
All this success was overwhelming and Diplo quickly rose in position and started working as a producer and landed collaborations with big names such as Shakira, Kid Kudi, Bruno Mars, Snoop Dogg among many other rock bands and music groups. He started working on his next project titled ‘Mad Descent’, on which he experimented with Brazilian sounds and used his vast experience of travelling around the world and included freshness in his tunes.
The label Mad Decent was founded in 2005 and since then, it has collaborated with several new artists such as Gucci Mane, Rusko and Jamie Fanatic. He kept climbing the ladder of success by collaborating with fresh and settled artists, and produced the works of some of the biggest names in the music industry like Lil Wayne, Britney Spears, Usher, Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande.
Downtown Records signed Diplo and Switch for a collaborative album together which included Baile Funk and Miami Bass as their biggest sound inspirations and the group Major Lazer was thus formed. The duo set out to visit Jamaica to record their album ‘Guns don’t Kill People... Lazers do’ and quickly followed it up with an EP titled ‘Lazers Never Die’ in 2010. ‘Free the Universe’ was the second album by Major Lazer in 2013, after Switch left.
The group collaborated with several other artists and produced quality music, helping them reach at a place in career, where they were being considered the best music group in the country. In 2015 came the next album titled ‘Peace is the Mission’ and a single from the album ‘Lean On’ became Spotify’s most viewed single ever with more than 800 streams and on YouTube, the song went on to receive 2 billion hits, making it one of the most watched music videos ever and other songs from the album ran fantastically as well.
Major Lazer collaborated with Justin Bieber and Spanish singer MO in 2016 for ‘Cold Water’, a single which eventually topped music charts in many countries around the world. The latest album ‘Music is the Weapon’ was produced in collaboration with Sia, The Weeknd and Ty Dolla Sign.
Diplo has also entered in collaboration with famed DJ Skrillex and performed in 2013 for the first time under the moniker Jack U. In February 2015, their first collaborative venture named ‘Skrillex and Diplo Presents Jack U’ released and featured several other artists. The single from the album ‘Where are you Now’ topped the charts in many countries and the album went on to become a major success in the nightclubs around the globe. The duo went on to receive the Grammy award in 2016 in the ‘Best Dance Album’ category.
Apart from his mainstream work, Diplo has never backed down from supporting young talent and is currently having a late night show for BBC. His performances in several charity events, talk shows and musical festivals have made him sort of a cult figure among his followers. Presently, he is working for the music for his first Indian film titled ‘When Harry met Sejal’ starring Shah Rukh Khan.
Diplo is married to Katherine Lockhart for many years now and the couple have two sons together. He is well into sports, and says that he is a huge fan of cricket and football and tries to never miss any important tournament or matches for these two games.
Diplo’s music has landed him more than half a dozen nominations for Grammy Awards. But he doesn’t give it too much attention and says that appreciation he receives for his work is enough for him to go on.