Diplo was born on November 10, 1978, in Tupelo, Mississippi, the son of Barbara Jean (née Cox) and Thomas Pentz. He is of German and English descent. The influence of home-grown rap played a key role in helping shape his production style. He spent the majority of his youth in Miami, where he got a taste for the characteristic Miami bass. He began attending the University of Central Florida in 1997. During his time at UCF, he became a DJ at local radio station WPRK, the radio station at Rollins College. He moved to Philadelphia to continue his studies at Temple University, where he first garnered attention as a DJ. After frequently running into fellow DJ Low Budget, the two began throwing parties under the Hooked on Hollertronix moniker in 2003 as a way of maintaining control of what they were able to play during DJ gigs in Philadelphia. The success of these parties allowed the two to release mixtapes, both separate and together, gathering acclaim across the country. One such mixtape, Never Scared, was named one of The New York Times' top ten albums of 2003, and the Hollertronix name became synonymous with parties featuring guests like Maluca Mala, Bun B, Spank Rock, M.I.A., among others. Hollertronix's sound has been described as "disparate genres to be smashed together for maximum attention-grabbing impact" an aesthetic which takes from the "organic, cohesive, whole" aesthetic of acts such as Bun B, Lil Jon, Drama, M.I.A., Björk, Busta Rhymes, and others.
After hearing one of his songs in 2004, M.I.A. approached Diplo when he was DJing one night at the Fabric Club in London. Coincidentally, Diplo was playing her songs "Galang" and "Fire Fire" as she entered the club, which he got from a worker at i-D magazine. Diplo added, "She came through and she wanted to meet me 'cause she'd heard my single and the funk mix from one of her A&Rs and she just thought I was right up her alley. Besides me being a white dude from Florida and her being a Sri Lankan girl in England, everything else was the same: [We were both] film graduates, [listened to] all the same music when we were kids, we're going in the same direction right now in music, it was amazing... I always wanted to make a beat with her, but all my beats were really shitty at the time." The two eventually collaborated on a mixtape, Piracy Funds Terrorism Vol. 1, where Arular track acapellas were mashed with other artists' songs and was mentioned as 'Albums of the Year' from The New York Times and Pitchfork Media. The two continued to work together after the release. He was the tour DJ on her 2005 Arular Tour.
Florida is the first studio album Diplo produced in 2004. This album was under the label Big Dada. This album created Diplo's genre of electronic/reggae/hip hop music.
Although favela funk remained an interest (the Favela on Blast documentary just saw release in 2009), his Mad Decent imprint would serve as a blank palette for Diplo to showcase the myriad different sounds he had come across while touring around the world. September 2009 even saw Diplo travel to China to play with Steve Aoki at a show organised by promoters Split Works. Diplo quickly developed a reputation for his extensive touring. In the April 2010 issue of Rolling Stone, Diplo was touted as one of '40 Reasons to be Excited About Music'. This kind of jet setting pushed his label far beyond the favela funk genre with which it initially began. Since its foundation in 2005 Diplo's Mad Decent label has released music by Santigold, Baauer, Lil' Jon, Gucci Mane, Peter Bjorn and John, Rusko, Bosco Delrey, Buraka Som Sistema, Savage Skulls, Dana Sibuea, Oliver Twizt, Jamie Fanatic, Douster, Boy 8-Bit, and Popo.
Diplo continued to work with M.I.A. and, through her, met London DJ Switch. Together, they created the Grammy-nominated track "Paper Planes", peaking at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2015, during an interview with Rolling Stone, M.I.A said that Diplo resented her rise to fame in 2005, that he tried to hold her back, and fought with her about becoming successful.
In 2009, he was nominated for his first Grammy Award for Record of the Year for "Paper Planes" shared with M.I.A., Switch. He was then nominated for a second Grammy Award in 2012, for Best Rap Song for "Look at Me Now" shared with Chris Brown, Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes. Diplo was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2013 and 2016 in the category Producer of the Year, Non-Classic. In 2016, he won Grammy Awards for Best Dance/Electronic Album for Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü and Best Dance Recording for "Where Are Ü Now".
Major Lazer's first album was followed up with an EP, Lazers Never Die, which was released in 2010. Switch left Major Lazer in 2011, and was replaced by DJs Jillionaire and Walshy Fire. A second album, Free the Universe, was scheduled to be released in November 2012 but was delayed to February 2013, and then to April 15. It features artists such as Ezra Koenig, Bruno Mars, Ward 21, Wyclef, The Partysquad, Shaggy, Tyga, Flux Pavilion and Wynter Gordon. On February 8, 2015, during the Grammy Award ceremony, Diplo revealed details of the third Major Lazer album. He confirmed that the album would incorporate artists such as Ariana Grande, Ellie Goulding and Pusha T. It is called Peace Is the Mission. The first single, "Lean On", is a collaboration with French producer DJ Snake and features vocals from Danish recording artist MØ. The second single, "Powerful", featuring Ellie Goulding and Tarrus Riley, was released simultaneously with the album on June 1, 2015. On November 11, 2015, "Lean On" became Spotify's Most Streamed Song of All Time with over 800 million streams to date. Along with the streaming title, the official video for "Lean On" became one of the most viewed videos on YouTube. It currently has more than 2 billion views. Along with the streaming and viewing milestones, "Lean On" would also go on to achieve double platinum status.
Jack Ü is an American duo made up of Skrillex and Diplo. Jack Ü's debut performance took place at the Mad Decent Block Party in San Diego on September 15, 2013, which is a nationwide tour that record label Mad Decent puts together in order to showcase different artists signed to the label. Diplo announced the project by releasing the Mad Decent Block Party lineup with Jack Ü playing at multiple stops on the tour. After some guessing by many of who Jack Ü was, Diplo finally came out to reveal that "Jack Ü ... means Skrillex and Diplo together". After their New York debut at Electric Zoo was canceled in late August, the duo would soon return to the city for something bigger. On December 31, 2014, Jack Ü sold out Madison Square Garden for one of their biggest performances to date. The duo had support from Rudimental, Yellow Claw and A$AP Ferg.
On February 27, 2015 they released Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü, a co-release between their respective labels OWSLA and Mad Decent. It featured tracks with 2 Chainz, Kiesza, Justin Bieber, AlunaGeorge and Missy Elliott. The first single "Take Ü There" featuring Kiesza was the lead single on the duo's debut album. The single was released as the lead on October 4, 2014. It reached number sixteen on the UK Dance Chart. The official second single, "Where Are Ü Now", was released simultaneously with the album. The song which took both artists in a different direction, featured a collaboration with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber. Peaking at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, and number 3 on the UK Singles Chart, "Where Are Ü Now" became the duo's largest hit on both charts thus far. The song would also go on to peak at number three in Australia, which was the highest charting for the single worldwide. The song had huge success in Europe as well, reaching the top-ten in Sweden and Finland, and the top-twenty in Norway, the Czech Republic, Denmark and Slovakia. The final place it had charting success was Bieber's home country, Canada, where it would end up peaking at number 6. On March 29, 2015, Jack Ü closed the main stage at Ultra Music Festival in Miami.
Diplo is also an active fan of the Philadelphia 76ers, showing support via Snapchat and Instagram whenever he's at their games. He performed with Skrillex and Kai at the Staples Center during half-time at a Los Angeles Clippers game in 2015.
Beginning on October 2, 2015, Diplo, Jillionaire, Walshy Fire and Eric Hamilton debuted "Lazer Sound" on Apple Music's Beats 1. The newest radio show, curated by Diplo, and the Major Lazer crew, consists of interviews, moments on tour and brand new music. The show is on the air every other Saturday of the month. Throughout 2015 and 2016, Diplo performed with Major Lazer and Jack Ü on numerous live TV and award shows. He performed on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning America, The iHeart Radio Music Festival, The NRJ Music Awards, The 2015 Latin Grammy Awards and The 2016 Grammy Awards.
As Mad Decent continues to grow and release tracks by big-name artists, Diplo's solo career continues to grow at the same rate. He's produced for artists such as Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne, Britney Spears, Wale, Chris Brown, Ariana Grande, 2 Chainz, Travis Porter, Usher, Azealia Banks, Iggy Azalea, and AlunaGeorge. On October 16, 2015, Diplo released "Be Right There" along with fellow producer Sleepy Tom. The single charted in multiple countries and has over 100 million streams on Spotify. On April 23, 2016, Beyoncé released her critically acclaimed album, Lemonade. Diplo produced two tracks on the album, "All Night", and one of the three singles, "Hold Up". The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 and was certified platinum on June 8, 2016. Along with producing tracks on Beyoncé's Lemonade, Diplo collaborated with Canadian DJ duo Zeds Dead on the release "Blame", which featured Swedish singer Elliphant. The track was officially released on July 14, 2016, via Zeds Dead's Soundcloud.
In 2016, the duo won two Grammy Awards for "Grammy Award for Best Dance Album" for "Skrillex and Diplo present Jack Ü" and "Grammy Award for Best Dance" for "Where Are Ü Now?" with Justin Bieber. The latter was also Bieber's first Grammy. They played two sold-out shows including Coachella Valley Music Festival in Indio, California and Lollapalooza in São Paulo, Brazil.
Diplo is a soccer and cricket fan and supporter of the U.S. men's national team. He also supports Arsenal F.C. and has attended two Tigres UANL matches. He created a Mix for the 2014 World Cup and produced 2018 World Cup official song "Live It Up". Diplo purchased a minority share of Phoenix Rising FC of the USL Championship on January 27, 2016. He stated: "I've been really fortunate to travel all over the world and experience different cultures through music. Wherever I am, Jamaica, Spain, England, China, etc., soccer is a social constant. I see soccer the same way I see music, as a connective tissue linking the world's cultures."
In February 2016 Diplo was one of the first and very few mainstream Western artists to perform in Islamabad, Pakistan alongside Adil Omar, SNKM and Elliphant. In 2018 Diplo returned to with Major Lazer for Islamabad's first Mad Decent Block Party alongside Adil Omar, SNKM, Talal Qureshi, Valentino Khan, Chrome Sparks, Lyari Underground and a host of other acts. In January 2017 Diplo and Autoerotique (a house group from Toronto) released a music video titled "Waist Time" which was filmed in a warehouse in London. He is up for another two Grammy's next month at the 2016 (The 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards) for Album of the Year (for Producer of Beyonce's album Lemonade and Producer for Justin Bieber's album Purpose). He also sang a song "Phurrr" in Bollywood in Imtiaz Ali's film Jab Harry Met Sejal starring Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma. In 2019, Diplo released the song "So Long" under the moniker Thomas Wesley, featuring American country singer Cam. In a press release, he stated that there are "several forthcoming collaborations with country artists" planned following "So Long", which included the song "Heartless" featuring Morgan Wallen.
On February 24, 2016, Diplo endorsed Bernie Sanders as the Democratic presidential nominee. Sanders' ad "It's A Revolution" is soundtracked by Diplo's 2013 track "Revolution". On June 9, 2016, Diplo was featured on the cover of the American entertainment media magazine Billboard.
On July 22, 2016, the group released the single "Cold Water", a collaboration with Canadian artist Justin Bieber and Danish singer MØ. The track has already reached over 200 million streams on Spotify, and achieved international commercial success, reaching number one in multiple countries. Their upcoming album, Music is the Weapon, will feature collaborations with Sia, The Weeknd and Ty Dolla Sign. On November 29, 2016, Major Lazer and Bad Royale released "My Number", a track that samples "54-46 That's My Number" which Pitchfork describes as, "a genre-defining classic from legendary ska/reggae group Toots and the Maytals." This release contained newly recorded vocals from frontman Toots Hibbert specifically designed for Major Lazer, which changed the original lyrics to incorporate the group into the song while keeping the original melody.
On January 2, 2018 Diplo announced a new project with British DJ and singer Mark Ronson, entitled Silk City. The duo released their debut single "Only Can Get Better" featuring Daniel Merriweather on May 23, 2018. Their second single, "Feel About You" featuring Mapei, was released on July 20, 2018. The duo's third single, "Loud", saw Diplo reunite with previous collaborators GoldLink & Desiigner. Their 4th and most recent single features British singer/songwriter Dua Lipa, called "Electricity", which was released on September 5, 2018. The music video was released on the same day.
LSD is a pop supergroup composed of Diplo, Australian singer Sia, and British musician Labrinth. The trio have released five singles thus far, with their song "Thunderclouds" being featured in a commercial for the Samsung Galaxy Note9. Their singles "Genius" and "Audio" have seen official remixes from producers Banx & Ranx and Cid, respectively. LSD's debut album Labrinth, Sia & Diplo Present... LSD was released on April 12, 2019.