Skrillex and Diplo join forces in recently-released Jack Ü album
By Tom Weimer, ’18
Caribbean Dancehall beats, soul vibrating bass, and rattling snare drums- this is what the 2013 Mad Decent Block Party audience witnessed during the mysterious Jack Ü set. Prior to the festival, concert goers pondered the identity of this unheard of artist who, out of the blue, was headlining one of the most prominent music festivals of the year. It was later revealed that the duo that comprised the act was none other than the two biggest artists in electronic music; dubstep royalty Skrillex and famed producer Diplo.
The heavily anticipated collaboration between the two musical giants took the dance world by storm last February when the duo released their debut album Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü. The album dominated the the dance charts and a single featuring Justin Bieber, Where Are Ü Now, became tremendously popular, spending 38 weeks on Billboard’s Top 100 Songs.
Earlier this year, Lean On, a product of Diplo’s Jamaican influenced side project Major Lazer, also ruled the music charts, spending over 19 weeks on Billboard’s list and being declared Spotify’s “Song of the Summer”. Lazer released the song last March as promotion for their third studio album Peace is the Mission, released Jun. 1.
Both Skrillex and Diplo bring some of their old flavor into the project, but ultimately create a new sound that has undoubtedly led the way for upcoming electronic music. The fusion of fast paced Caribbean drums and firing synths with growling bass has become a staple in EDM since the album’s release- this subgenre could be heard at nearly every music festival that preceded the album’s release.
Opening with an ambient trip of background synths mixed with a warped telephone conversation on Don’t Do Drugs Just Take Some Jack Ü, the album quickly moves into its signature trap and dubstep snarl style with fast paced Beats Knockin featuring Fly Boi Keno. This is continued in the next track Take Ü There. The very first Jack Ü song, it was produced in one night after Skrillex and Diplo saw Kiesza perform live and asked her to record vocals for the song in their hotel room. Other highlights of the album include the collaboration with English electronic duo AlunaGeorge To Ü, a future trap anthem fueled by whooshing bass, AlunaGeorge’s siren-like voice and a drop reminiscent of Skrillex’s days in wobble dubstep. The second to final track Where Are Ü featuring Justin Bieber is a prime example of the album’s island influence, featuring a synth similar to a tropical bird call and bongo like drums.
While most of the songs have the same intro-bass drop format, each creates a distinct soundscape that perfectly describes the dynamic style of the project; one minute listeners may be head bobbing to the boastful collaboration with 2 Chainz Febreze, the next they’ll be teary eyed during the hypnotic ballad To Ü, then be dancing once again to Jamaican influenced banger Jungle Bae. While the album lacks the traditional artistry of a meticulously over-hyped LP, in a world where so many dance songs are three minutes of stale repetition, the album stands out proudly in accomplishing its objective; to make people dance.
Image courtesy OWSLA and Mad Decent