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Diplo in action on Friday

Diplo impresses at Uganda’s premiere DJ only concert

Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is a term that has been given to panoply of musical styles ranging from those without a beat to house, techno and trance music among others.

Much as the music has been famous for over thirty years, it’s only been in the mid 2000s that pop culture started pushing the term EDM – apparently it was intended at rebranding the rave culture in USA.

According to Entertainment Weekly, it was just in 2006 that Justin Timberlake introduced EDM to the Top 40 radio because of its fusion of the artiste’s RnB feel with that of electronic.

Today, EDM is not just a music but a cult that has swept over Europe, America and finding a home in Africa – producers of the music, mostly DJs are not merely on demand, but they are also paid heavily; some of the world’s top EDM DJs can’t settle for less than $250,000/= a night.

But when they eventually allow playing, it’s not just a DJ set, but an experience, and that is the story of the Club beer sponsored Diplo gig that took place at the Golf Course Hotel in Kampala on Friday night.

Born Thomas Wesley Pentz, Diplo is an American DJ, producer and one of the founders of electronic music trio Major Lazer, he gave a spirited performance that many noted was a huge master class for the local DJs.

Their 2015 runaway hit Lean On dominated dance floors around the world and impressed online with over a billion views on YouTube that even when many were still allover social media asking who Diplo was, those that cared to stream videos had made up their minds about a thrill night they would have.

Diplo, even on independent projects is as basic, he lets you enjoy the lyrics of a song a nonexistent chorus, before launching into his normal electronic dance mode, it’s a technic that worked perfectly on Where are You Now, his collaboration project that featured Skrillex and Justin Bieber.

Like many mainstream EDM DJs, Diplo is easy to relate with especially with a fact that he employs cross genre influences on his craft, especially when he works with acts like Kai on Mind.

His Kampala show featured another member of Major Lazer, Leighton Walsh, alias Walshy Fire who played a role of a hype man, together, they produced a version of a condensed EDM concert that at times struggled to stay true to what they believe in and what could please the audience.

Through famous crowd pleasers like Fat Joe’s All the Way, Karama’s Amasanyalaze Negagenda and Tekno’s Pana which had been improved to include Luganda words about using Boda Bodas.

But it wasn’t just his playlist, in fact, the playlist played way too little; Diplo and Walshy Fire were epit performers that leave no gimmick in the box, they will jump on tables, change attires and make people squat, sing and dance.

EDM in Uganda

The EDM movement has always been underground in Uganda, at the Diplo show, many of them were at the front, where they danced until the ground shook, they were excited for only two showcases; DJ Dark Meme and Diplo himself.

Dark Meme, is a Ugandan born DJ that’s touring and opening for Diplo in Africa, his set had fewer songs – he said true to the element of EDM usually fusing a live African percussion with his mixing.

But before him, Aludah, DJ BK and RPM had played for the audience.

According to DJ Aludah, much as there’s an audience for EDM music in Kampala, it’s small compared to the greater audience that prefer a different sound

One Atyang, an ardent follower of EDM through events like Nyege Nyege Festival, in fact, she was disappointed that Diplo had switched his sound to accommodate everyone.

This article was first published in The Observer

About Kaggwa Andrew

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