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EDM & Collaborations: Are They Helping or Hurting the Scene?

Jack U - Diplo and Skrillex

Here today we find ourselves still amusing ourselves trying to define music. While EDM is definitely its own genre, that happens to break down into a plethora of sub-genres within sub-genres, as is everything else we, here at DMNW, we would like to take a look at three collaborations that we think capture the essence of the state of EDM. While these collaborations range from the cutting-edge to purely commercial, we wish to take a closer look first at the collaboration that fueled a small twitter feed feud between, namely, Diplo and Zedd.

Diplo took to Twitter March 21, 2016, and put Zedd on blast for “selling out” and essentially stealing Flume’s artistic style when it came to the drops in his Candyman collaboration with Aloe Blacc and M&Ms. While Zedd didn’t really defend himself when it came to the whole style-stealing bit, he was quick to clap back with name-calling. In defense of Zedd though, many, including deadmau5, were quick to chime in reminding Diplo of his once questioned collaboration with Justin Bieber, but more on that in a second.

Our opinion of the Candyman collaboration is that it’s a decent track. And though it is obviously part commercial, it definitely has elements of soul from Aloe Blacc and a catchy pop EDM sound from Zedd. While there may be speculation that the song could’ve achieved more artistically if it had not been bogged down by commercial motives, we honestly don’t feel like being Patrick Bateman. Bottom line for Candyman, despite what others might say (read: Diplo), we think it was a decent track. But it will always remain a “what if” for us here at DMNW because we know Zedd and Aloe Blacc are both very capable musicians.

The bottom line here: Who cares if they both made a quick buck off of the song? Are any of us really a part of the avante-garde carefully patrolling the world of art? Even if you are a part of that highly esteemed upper echelon of fine art, what would you be doing listening to dance music and not Le mal du pays or something of the like? Dance music has made a foothold in the mainstream because people are starting to realize it’s fun to dance to, and while this trend is just starting to catch on in the U.S., we don’t anticipate that it’s going anywhere soon.

Today, innovation is digitally warping a young man’s voice to be used as an instrument. That’s what Skrillex, Diplo, and Justin Bieber did on Where Are Ü Now. If that flute riff isn’t catchy, we don’t know what is. While many would criticize Diplo and Skrillex for selling out to pop-music, we’d bring up their innovative use of the vocals to make the flute sounding riff. While the innovation isn’t going to change the world as we know it, we have to admit it is a pretty creative use of the technology we have today to make a unique sound.

Another artist who is innovating like the EDM duo Jack Ü is NGHTMRE. In a video you can watch below, UPROXX beautifully covers some of his artistic process which includes banging on pots and pans, and recording those sounds to isolate and manipulate, giving his tracks a new and personal feel. Again, like Diplo and Skrillex’s innovation on Where Are Ü Now, this isn’t going to change the world, but it’s nice to know that artists are out there constantly pushing boundaries.

While we could go on about what a collaboration “really is,” we’re going to just leave this one here, which was also a part of UPROXX’s Uncharted series. Here we see up and coming hip-hop prodigy A-F-R-O collaborate with NGHTMRE in a truly cutting-edge way. We’d also like our readers to take note of the many musicians who weren’t featured on the track whom contributed amazing talent. People don’t always play music to make a name for themselves.

Try and box music into genre or label it however you like. Music is meant to communicate an idea. If you don’t get the idea it’s not for you that’s it. It doesn’t mean it’s bad music. Anyway, we’re off to smoke a cigar and listen to Hip to Be Square by Huey Lewis and The News.

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