Cover story

Esquire (Singapore) - - Front Page -

be putting out gqom records from South Africa on a big scale. The world’s not ready for that… Maybe like in four years Bey­oncé will sam­ple it again or some­thing, be­cause you know, I don’t have the power to come out like that. I’m not a Kar­dashian.” Hmm. “I’m just a pro­ducer, a DJ, I don’t have a big plat­form. I just gotta find a ve­hi­cle to use whether it’s Dua Lipa for ‘Elec­tric­ity’ or who­ever is the next artist for Ma­jor Lazer that I’m us­ing to put out a dif­fer­ent style or sound. That’s the sci­ence to break­ing mu­sic and styles now.”

And it’s true that that’s also just how peo­ple con­sume cul­ture th­ese days. There is no mass cul­ture con­text any more. I don’t men­tion Tay­lor Swift (or beef ) be­cause, well, I don’t, but he points her out to me any­way.

“It’s not easy for Tay­lor Swift or a big pop record to sell and go num­ber one like it used to be. Big record la­bels used to have ev­ery­thing in pocket, and they knew how to make it hap­pen.” Not any­more. He is very well aware that ‘mak­ing it’ of­ten boils down to go­ing vi­ral with a meme in 2018. Af­ter all, Pentz gets the land­scape of the mu­sic in­dus­try, and of cul­ture at large. And his grasp of th­ese is an­thro­po­log­i­cal. Nu­anced. He will also qui­etly drop anvils about his own im­pact on those very things—and right­fully so.

“Now, you have lit­tle memes and Drake still luck­ily finds a way ev­ery time. I don’t think he pre­dicted ‘Kiki Do You Love Me’ was gonna be a dance, but it was just lucky. We had the same luck with ‘ Har­lem Shake’. Mad De­cent had the first num­ber one dance record in the his­tory of Bill­board with that record. So you have to find ways to learn and live with it, but I think just like build­ing a cul­ture around you as a per­son and your brand is im­por­tant, you know. Halsey, Cardi B, Post Mal­one, they are so good at that. They just own that thing. So they’re de­vel­op­ing some­thing on the out­side. On the inside, it’s just like this meme cul­ture that are loops of the same shit all hap­pen­ing right now.”

He him­self loops too, al­beit in up­ward spi­rals. Be­fore there was ‘Run The World’, there was ‘Pon De Floor’.

“I don’t mind be­ing the step­ping stone for other mu­sic. Like with Bey­oncé, I’ve had a pro­duc­tion credit on al­most ev­ery record that she’s put out. Just be­cause she al­ways hits me up like, “What’s the next thing?”. Even with Le­mon­ade, I had two records on there. I mean, I’m happy to work with Bey­oncé, but now I just have the con­fi­dence to put out ev­ery record my­self and take ad­van­tage of it, be­cause when it’s not suc­cess­ful, it’s on me.” And when it is suc­cess­ful and it was done in­de­pen­dently, then it means more coin clink­ing into his piggy bank.

Amongst many other things, 2018 sees Ma­jor Lazer re­leas­ing Ma­jor Lazer Essen­tials, a 10-year ret­ro­spec­tive of im­por­tant mile­stones from the project. Still in the hot tub, Pentz glides over to where his iPhone has been po­litely parked and starts to scroll through his Artist Spo­tify app, com­par­ing and con­trast­ing the rather un­fath­omable num­ber of streams be­tween his big­gest, more re­cent hits, and the records that came out pre-stream­ing ser­vices. Like most mod­ern peo­ple liv­ing in the age of in­for­ma­tion, he keeps an eye on th­ese num­bers. He’s just re­ally proud that peo­ple love his records. With Ma­jor Lazer, he has a track— ‘Lean On (ft MØ)’ by Ma­jor Lazer & DJ Snake—be­long­ing to the elite com­pany of 10 songs which have hit more than two bil­lion views on YouTube. Songs from Ma­jor Lazer’s ear­li­est years have only a teeny tiny frac­tion of stream­ing num­bers, com­par­a­tively. And yet, Pents feels lucky that he can still play those tracks. He still likes them, af­ter all.

“Say you’re like, Mi­ley. I don’t think that you wanna play ‘Party In the USA’ when you’re 40 years old, you know? Or like, songs from her Dis­ney era, or what­ever it is. Maybe she does. Per­son­ally, I wouldn’t—and I love her, too—but there’s not a Ma­jor Lazer song out that I wasn’t proud of.”

And de­pend­ing on what point you caught the Diplo-wave, it’s highly likely that even

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.