Pillbox

Holler at your boys

Having friends in the music business has worked to the advantage of Philadelphia-based emcees Diplo, Hollertronix, and Spank Rock. Diplo (real name Wesley Pentz), whose upbringing in Mississippi factors into his melding of dirty South and Miami bass beats with current hip-hop and rap tracks, fuses music styles from Tel Aviv to Rio into danceable mixes.

In 2004 Diplo released his debut full-length album, Florida, an 11-track smorgasbord spanning such genres as Brazilian baile funk, instrumental hip-hop, and cinematic electronica. The single “Diplo Rhythm” was featured on Grey’s Anatomy and exemplified Diplo’s ability to smoothly incorporate seemingly disparate styles of music. As of 2006, Diplo added impresario to his credentials by founding his own label, Mad Decent. The DJ wunderkind’s lengthy list of collaborators includes British singer and former girlfriend M.I.A., for whom he remixed several singles for the compilation Piracy Funds Terrorism.

Along with DJ Low Budget, Diplo has branched into the mashup genre under the moniker Hollertronix. This year alone, the duet released remixes of Peter Bjorn and John’s indie-pop tune “Young Folks” and Daft Punk’s techno blaster “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” They have sampled everything from Three 6 Mafia to Modest Mouse and ingeniously interweaved The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” with Missy Elliott’s “Gossip Folks.” The boisterous Beat boys have amassed a following of party-hearty trendsters as a result of their accessible yet creative mashups.

Taking a hint from the buzz surrounding these up-and-comers, London dance club Fabric dipped into the Philadelphia DJ pool and enlisted both Diplo and Spank Rock’s talents, resulting in the releases of Fabriclive 24 and Fabriclive 33. The two compilations include remixes of Aphex Twin, Ludacris, Chicks on Speed, and Hot Chip. Especially since they debuted merely a year ago, this was a commendable honor for Spank Rock.

Laying rapid-fire rhymes over bass-heavy electro-rap beats, the Spank Rock collective — comprised of Armani XXXchange, Chris Rockswell, and Spank Rock — never fails to stimulate a crowd with their vibrant sound. Since Spank Rock’s 2006 debut album YoYoYoYoYo exploded onto the flashy Philadelphia party scene, the group has been hailed by critics, among them Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, who lauded the album as one of his favorites. The group has toured with Hollertronix and M.I.A. and opened for Beck and Björk, but Spank Rock’s accomplishments do not stop there. Xfm London named the group’s single “Bump” Single of the Year in 2006, and the hip-jerking anthem “Backyard Betty” appeared in the video game Madden NFL 07.

Philadelphia new schoolers Diplo, Hollertronix, and Spank Rock have quickly made a name for themselves in the City of Brotherly Love and beyond, turning concert venues into sweaty dance parties where anyone can be, as Spank Rock puts it, “an ass-shakin’ competition champ.”