I’m disappointed to report that in the year of our Lord, 2018, people are interested in asking Diplo (real name Wesley Pentz) for his thoughts on cultural appropriation in popular music and giving him the opportunity to spew half-formed, incoherent statements on race and privilege when there are so, so, so many better things to do. On Thursday, the Guardian published in an interview with the DJ in which they asked:
At what point is being influenced by something celebratory, and at what point is it cultural pickpocketing?
Diplo’s response was riveting. Just...riveting:
“I might be too tired to answer that in a good way…” he begins, before attempting to anyway. “I don’t…really…fucking care. What kind of music am I supposed to make? Being a white American, you have zero cultural capital, unless you’re doing Appalachian fiddle music or something. I’m just a product of my environment.”
Literally, what? He adds:
“I’m sure the Clash never had people mad at them for co-opting [black music].”
Poor Diplo. Why him?
The interviewer points out that Diplo has a history of saying dumb shit about appropriation, like when he told the New Yorker that “culture is meant to be fused…That’s how culture moves.” Hmm.
Diplo assured the Guardian that traveling to places like Africa is not “business” for him. I assume he means he doesn’t travel to other countries for exploitative, money-grubbing reasons—and I’m sure he would like this answer to satisfy any future inquiries about whether he is a Good Guy or a Bad Guy. I, too, would like people to stop asking him about this, because he’s been given one too many chances and he has done goofed one too many times.
If anyone needs further proof Diplo has zero chance of making any sense when pressed on the race/privilege conversation, please read this final quote from his the interview:
As much as there is a perceived cynicism about his musical mission, Pentz says it’s worth it for the end result. “When it comes to making music, understand that my intentions are always great. I’m there for the music only,” he says. “I have a lot of privilege by being a middle-class white American. So if I had to trade that by being considered exploitative, and people always saying negative things about me…It’s a small price to pay.”
Stop asking the man to explain himself! He doesn’t know how and he can’t. Give him—and me, all of us—a break.