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Diwon is a global artist. He’s known to New York audiences for his mix of Middle Eastern samples and Baltimore club beats. He is renowned worldwide for his remixes of pop acts like Lana Del Rey and The XX. On the inside, Diwon has the heart of a true-school hip-hop head. DJ Booth called him a “beatmaking buzzsmith,” and 2dopeboyz, Nahright, and AllHipHop regularly post his music.
Diwon’s debut solo LP, New Game, drops this fall. A breakneck journey through the strange loops of his unique artistic process, New Game finds Diwon working with artists from the hip-hop underground such as Tim Fite and MC Paul Barman, as well as indie sirens like Liza. Tracks are variously built from funky-drummer style percussion or bass-heavy West Coast production, laced with everything from crunchy psychedelic guitars to Middle Eastern melisma. Still others, like the title track New Game, featuring Liza, spike the punch with a strong dose of ice-cold synthesizers to sing the Eurotrash nonstop party crowd to bed. It’s the producer as auteur, every track taking you through the emotional space of the artist, like Kanye or Godard.
“The idea is to make songs that deal with raw human emotion as it gets filtered through the mind of an artist,” Diwon says, “struggling with the process of creation…questioning yourself and questioning your art one minute, and feeling on top of the world the next. I want the music to take you somewhere.”
Nissim kicks a mean double time flow over trippy synths on “Try Stopping”, sounding like a Roc-A-Fella joint on acid, and Open Mike Eagle’s smooth nasal tone on the track is a statement in itself. “Been Through the Fire” has the banging percussion and soulful hook of a West Coast classic, but a fiery verse from Royal is closer to the new west sound of Tyga (an artist he produces) and the New Boyz, complete with swagged-out voice breaks. Milli810 rides effortlessly carves out the lyrical space between hard rock guitar riffs on “Cool as A Cucumber” for a laid-back chillout track reminiscent of Curren$y or Devin the Dude.
The elegant structure of New Game juxtaposes witty verses from cerebral underground rappers with polysyllabic cadences, abstract-expressionist vibes from pop and r’n'b songwriters, and instrumental interludes that sublimate the themes of songs – leaving the listener floating in an ocean of sound. People talk about hip-hop going “post-regional,” but the Diwon’s new beats are post-national. New York kicks and snares meet Turkish melisma against funky basslines and live guitars. This is the music you wish you heard on airplanes.
“New Game” sets the stage for Diwon’s future production. Who can say what that will sound like? It’s a big world, and Diwon is global.