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Producer Diplo on Being Acussed of Cultural Appropriation: ‘What Kind of Music Am I Supposed to Make’

Diplo Cultural Appropriation


Diplo, the Miami raised producer who scored massive hits with artists like Usher, Beyoncé, Justin Bieber and Chris Brown, has talked about cultural appropriation again — this time with The Guardian.

It’s something he’s been accused of in the past after borrowing from Reggaeton music, Brazilian sounds and many other styles. He’s also been charged with appropriating Indian culture in the video for his song “Lean On.”

Plus, some folks said that Diplo “white washed” dancehall, which could be why Rihanna didn’t want to work with him. In fact, she said his music sounds like “reggae songs at the airport,” which is something she later apologized for.

During the interview, the reporter tossed Diplo what some might find a pretty interesting question about appropriation, which seemed to annoy him.

“At what point is being influenced by something celebratory, and at what point is it cultural pickpocketing?” the reporter asked.

“I might be too tired to answer that in a good way,” he answered. “I don’t really f–king 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. I’m sure the Clash never had people mad at them for co-opting [Black music].”

Elsewhere in the interview, Diplo talked more about appropriation and said it’s a small price to pay for all of the societal benefits he receives. 

“When it comes to making music, understand that my intentions are always great. I’m there for the music only,” he explained. “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.”

Diplo’s interview comes in the middle of an ongoing conversation about music and race that’s been taking place a lot over the past few weeks.

It started when writer and activist Seren Sensei accused Bruno Mars of exploiting Black music and using what she calls “his racial ambiguity” to his benefit.

Afterwards, artists like Charlie Wilson came to the singer’s defense, who said he was merely “pulling inspiration from genres before him.”

Stevie Wonder stuck up for the “24K Magic” singer as well and pretty much mimicked those same words.

“God created music for everyone to enjoy and we can’t limit ourselves by people’s fears and insecurities,” Wonder told TMZ. “He’s a great talent. So that other stuff is just bullshhhh … He was inspired by great musicians and great artists, songwriters, so that’s good.

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