Thomas Wesley Pentz, a.k.a. Diplo was in Nigeria for Gidi Fest a few months ago, and on the day he was billed to perform, a heavy rained marred his set and affected the sound.
“I start my set and I was playing records and, like, dancing. I look up and there are all these Nigerian faces just staring at me,” the American record producer and disc jockey, who is the second half of Major Lazer, toldGQ in an interview.
The next day, he performed at a private party on a rooftop. Although there was neither rain nor thunderstorm, Diplo said the guests were more inclined to “eat steak” than getting into the groove of his music.
He described the experience as humbling, saying: “I said to [Major Lazer MC] Walshy Fire, Man, Nigeria is where you either live or die as a DJ. This is like the DJ Olympics.”
Although he described his Nigerian experience as “a weird kind of success”, Diplo admitted that “it was one of the hardest moments of my career”.
The DJ spoke highly of the effect of Nigerian music on the global scene while name-dropping artistes like Davido, Wizkid and Mr Eazi as being among the “Nigerians taking “over with this new Afro-pop movement”.
He said: “Nigeria has this huge diaspora, like Jamaica. Nigerians live everywhere: England, L.A., New York. Nigerians have had a huge impact on music in the last ten years.
“The music scene is amazing because they have pop stations—you’re gonna hear Bieber and Katy Perry. Then they have all the hip-hop and R&B—“Bad and Boujee” was a hit in Lagos before America.
“Then they have all the Nigerian stuff—the Afro-pop like Davido, Wizkid, Mr Eazi. And then they also have legacy stuff, like Fela Kuti and Femi Kuti, palm-wine music, and highlife.”