Opening Night: 128 Beats Per Minute
There are people that remain in a single location their entire lives fondling for a "scene" that nourishes them. Whether it be reggaeton or heavy metal, music’s contagious energy generates this collective consciousness high on endorphins and melody. Thomas Wesley Pentz, more commonly known as Diplo, is well-versed in the wonders of musical diversity. He started spinning in 2003 at the Hollertonix party in Philadelphia. That same year he met photographer Shane McCauley, a regular to the sweaty Ukrainian basement where the party was held. Before long Diplo had produced M.I.A‘s Grammy-nominated jam, ‘Paper Planes,’ and founded his label Mad Decent. After reuniting with Shane in 2008 for Mad Decent’s first Block Party in Philly, Diplo invited him to document his journeys around the world.
On Saturday evening, Milk Gallery celebrated the launch of 128 Beats Per Minute: Diplo’s Visual Guide to Music, Culture, and Everything in Between. The book is the union of sight and sound, Shane and Diplo. It contains nearly 200 pages of photographs spanning seven years and thirty-two countries. This glimpse into Diplo’s touring life through Shane’s eyes uncovers the variations within the international club scenes and the exhaustion of relentless touring and work. Each of the ten chapters, organized by locale and accompanied by a ten song playlist, begins with an introduction by Diplo. He is a stickler for the diverse musical cultures that inspire him and shamelessly promotes other artists he knows. Short bios and Twitter handles are included for everyone from A-Trak, Kanye West’s touring DJ since 2004, to Madrileño DJs The Zombie Kids. An introductory essay by Alexander Wang harps on Diplo’s "layers of humor," his pure intermingling of spice and sass that melts baile funk into hip-hop and 90s house classics, among others.
Shane’s photographs reflect the freedom of the dance floor. Full-frontal portraits of ringleaders such as Lee "Scratch" Perry appear next to sprawling shots of Moscow and basement dance parties. His photographs are tools of engagement that capture Diplo’s prismatic style, his assortment of fans, and his control of a room. The crowd at the gallery opening sank into Diplo’s hypnotic mash-ups for several hours and indulged in Blackwell Rum, produced by head of Island Records and reggae-pusher Chris Blackwell. A photobooth toward the back of the gallery captured the fashion and relentless energy revolving around Diplo’s universe. A selection of Shane’s prints will remain on view in the Milk Gallery through April 11. Limited edition signed copies of 128 BPM are available through the Milk Store.
Photos by: Masha Maltsava