Diplo Presents Thomas Wesley: Chapter 2 - Swamp Savant
With 2020’s Diplo Presents Thomas Wesley: Chapter 1 - Snake Oil, international superstar DJ Diplo proved he was more than just an EDM artist, channeling his country roots on a stacked LP that featured collaborations with Cam, Orville Peck, Blanco Brown, and more. The Tupelo, Mississippi-born artist once again celebrates his Southern upbringing on Chapter 2 - Swamp Savant, a similarly collaborative LP of country-EDM fusion with no shortage of special guests, including Lily Rose, Paul Cauthen, Sierra Ferrell, Morgan Wade, and more. “When I started getting older, I really started playing more classics when I'm just driving,” Diplo tells Apple Music. “I'm playing more Fleetwood Mac records. I'm playing more Kenny Rogers records. I'm driving around and getting back to records that I loved, because they meant something when I was driving with my Grandpa down I-95.” That first LP felt like a risk for Diplo, who feared alienating fans who knew him for EDM hits like “Get It Right” and “Close to Me.” But the success of Chapter 1 emboldened Diplo to dig further into his interest in country and roots music. “My [country] records were playing on digital radio because they don't have the same restrictions all the Nashville mafia does,” he says. “Then people streamed it, and people listened to it at parties and people put it on TikTok. I think you just give it to the people and you can fight back against that Nashville mentality. I think that's what we did. I think, also, it's changing. There's a lot more stars out there with open minds.” Single and standout track “Use Me (Brutal Hearts)” includes guest vocals from the unlikely but well-suited pair of Sturgill Simpson and Dove Cameron, making for one of the LP’s more memorable and infectious moments. Getting Simpson on board seemed like a tough task at first, but Diplo met the famously reticent artist at a festival and the two hit it off. When Diplo had an idea he thought Simpson might dig, he sent it to the “Turtles All the Way Down” star. “We understood each other's style and then he trusted me,” Diplo says. “I mean, the big thing is trust, because it was a big step for him to do something really unique. Because I think a lot of Nashville guys, they got the fanbase and they're kind of stuck with it. You got to shake free of that, because you got to always grow.” Rapper Kodak Black and country outsider Koe Wetzel join Diplo on the heavy “Wasted,” which takes cues from the rock stylings of artists like Wetzel himself as well as contemporary Cody Jinks. Unorthodox pairings like those of “Use Me (Brutal Hearts)” and “Wasted” reflect Diplo’s love for bringing talented artists together, genre be damned. “We're not forcing anything,” Diplo says. “We're just putting people together that you wouldn't expect. And unexpected is what I've always been good at, throwing things together that are out of the ordinary and trying to make them feel like they're classics. That's always my lesson.” With “Rain on My Mind,” Diplo makes use of both Cauthen’s and Ferrell’s unique voices, incorporating folk-noir production reminiscent of each’s solo material. For the completists out there, Chapter 1 - Snake Oil is added to the end of Chapter 2’s tracklist, making for something of a double album.