Digital Life

(Soundbite of rapping)


We found that on a podcast called Mad Decent Radio, created by DJ Diplo. He's based in Philadelphia. DJ Diplo calls Mad Decent Radio NPR for the streets. Each podcast features the music of a particular city. He samples and mixes that music with interviews he's done, with the people who made it. The result is a multi layered soundtrack of a place. It's like he's DJ-ing a city. We'll visit a couple of them: Rio De Janeiro and New Orleans.

DJ DIPLO (DJ): This is DJ Diplo. I'm the king of (unintelligible) and I listed to Mad (unintelligible) all right.

(Soundbite of podcast)

BRAND: DJ Diplo had visited the city before Katrina. He returned to perform at JazzFest eight months after the storm. When he wasn't performing he was out looking for music. He says he was presently surprised with what he found.

DJ DIPLO: I thought that it would just be dead, you know? Because half the DJ's had moved to Houston to make any money that they could. But there's so many new kids that just decided to have little parties in the clubs that are half opened and making remixes of new hip hop tracks, and there is just so much more energy there than there was when I was there two years ago. And I just think a lot of young kids have little more to do than just throw parties and to make music.

(Soundbite of podcast)

DJ DIPLO: When I put together the interviews and the music together, it kind of helps to explain the scene a little more than when I'm just DJ-ing it for a party, when I'm just playing the tracks. Kids are like, yeah, this is great, what is this?

But I kind of go into the source and give it - shedding some light on the other people that have influenced me. It's kind of like what I wanted to do.

(Soundbite of podcast)

BRAND: And in New Orleans who are you interviewing? Who do we hear speaking?

DJ DIPLO: In New Orleans we just drove around one day, and the first place we went to had like all the DJ's. We went to like one street corner and it was like all ten of the biggest DJ's there.

BRAND: They were just on the street corner?

DJ DIPLO: Yeah, because there was a shop there that had opened and closed. And these were like independent music stores, in places like New Orleans are just like - they might be like a bodega one day and then a music store next day and then, you know, selling auto parts, and it's just like always changing.

This one place, it was a place where you can buy mix tapes. It wasn't really like a proper music store. But everybody was there kind of hanging out.

BRAND: What were they telling you about their city and about how the music's changed?

DJ DIPLO: Well, they were all like kind of old friends, they are joking about which area was, you know, the start of the scene, like was it the Ninth Ward, was it the Third Ward, you know, different areas.

They told me some stories about how hard places were hit, but they're still doing the music and people still live in New Orleans. It seems like it's only halfway there, but there's still a lot of energy, and I think there's a lot of isolation still that's helping to keep the music going, because people that are there are stuck there.

(Soundbite of podcast)

Unidentified Man: Eight, nine feet of water here, up to the second floor. They got - it was just flooded all out, you know.

DJ DIPLO: I mean there's also like a lot rebellion tracks that came out after the hurricane, like After Katrina was a track, and then What's Your FEMA Number?

(Soundbite of podcast)

DJ DIPLO: There's a lot of protest songs that came afterwards and they're always really big on the radio. They're not on any label. They're just passed away on CDRs and everything. But they're still huge for people, because it's just telling the real experience of about what's happened there.

(Soundbite of podcast)

BRAND: All right, let's travel further south, way further south, and go to South America, because you spent a lot of time there. And tell us about your radio project in Brazil and what you did there.

DJ DIPLO: When I go down to Brazil, that scene itself has like such a culture and so many dimensions to it, just the scene in Rio alone, in the favelas, the music that's happening there.

BRAND: And what kind of music do you hear in the favelas? These are the slums there in Rio. Is it a lot different than the mainstream music that you'd hear in Rio?

DJ DIPLO: Yeah, I mean in Brazil it's like America, you know? You have this crazy mixture of African and European rhythms and instruments. It's like the only place to really compete with America as far as cultural capital.

(Soundbite of podcast)

BRAND: You spent a lot of time in Rio.

DJ DIPLO: Yes. The first time I went there was like four years ago, and I went because I heard some of this music, got really fascinated with it, and I started really seeing like mix tapes up here with some of the music I collected.

(Soundbite of podcast)

DJ DIPLO: They made this new sound that's part samba, part Miami base, and really punk rock to me, and it's called Carioca Funk. Carioca just means from Rio, and funk - they used the word funk ever since they were DJ-ing James Brown and they kept it for Afrika Bambaataa up until now. And it doesn't really resemble funk for America, but it's called Carioca Funk.

(Soundbite of podcast)

DJ DIPLO: You'll hear it all over the place in Rio if you drive around. Every car is playing it. If you go to sleep and you live near any hillside, you're going to hear it booming, because like 500 parties per week are playing this music at like the craziest volumes, speakers I think that go maybe two stories high, almost a block wide, a whole club like this.

(Soundbite of podcast)

Unidentified Man #3: What is your name?

Unidentified Man #4: MC Gringo.

BRAND: And tell us about MC Gringo.

DJ DIPLO: MC Gringo is a funny guy I just happened to meet at a party, who was a German guy who had married a girl and moved to favela like 10 years ago. And he's actually got a hit on the radio now in Rio. I just had to interview because he was like - I was like what is this doing here?

(Soundbite of podcast)

DJ DIPLO: He has a strange song called Dance the Gringo, which means just how to dance like a Gringo at a party.

(Soundbite of laughter)

DJ DIPLO: And - yeah, it's really funny. Even people in Rio are just like, wow, this is really, you know, fascinating.

(Soundbite of podcast)

BRAND: And so you're Mad Decent Radio project, who's it for? Who do you want to educate about this kind of music?

DJ DIPLO: Well, the fascinating thing for me about have a podcast is that it's not like you have to go search for it or trade for it. It's just there, so anybody can look up my radio show, can just download it for free. And a lot of stuff that I'm playing, people don't know what it is, and people ask me questions all the time, so I just kind of wanted to put together a show that was a little more comprehensive.

(Soundbite of podcast)

REBIRTH BRASS BAND: (Singing) We don't want to go to war...

BRAND: We want to close by going back to New Orleans and playing a little bit from the Rebirth Brass Band. I'm wondering if you could just tell us a little bit more about that, what this song is about?

DJ DIPLO: Okay. Well, the song that I ended the New Orleans show was by the Rebirth Brass Band. It's like, you know, a group of 20 guys that just like play classic New Orleans jazz music like with the horns, mixed with a little bit of hip-hop sound. And this track in particular is called You Don't Want to Go to War. And it's with Soulja Slim, and it's one of the last songs that I think that he did before he passed away.

(Soundbite of podcast)

DJ DIPLO: He's definitely a hero for the New Orleans scene, and the music just was - when I heard this song it almost made me cry because it means so much to hear like the horns, and it's a seven minute long song and it's just got the best horn riffs, and it just kind of symbolizes what I like about New Orleans.

(Soundbite of podcast)

BRAND: Well, DJ Diplo, thank you so much for talking with us.

DJ DIPLO: Hey, thanks for putting me on.

BRAND: You can find a link to DJ Diplo's Mad Decent Radio podcasts at our Web site,

(Soundbite of podcast)

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