After jumping each others’ projects throughout the years starting with “Amplifire” in 2011 and memorable sets both at Ultra Music Festival 2014 and Madison Square Garden, Skrillex and Diplo have conceived a full album of material. If you had to put a stamp on the entire album, you would have to say that it’s one of fun and experimentation. It’s nine tracks that seem like it could be a DJ set itself, albeit it’s all over the spectrum of electronic music. The good thing is both Skrillex and Diplo’s willingness to adapt and utilize influences into their own sound.
One things I gathered from listening to the whole album with multiple runs through is that if you have kept up with each career, you can hear the little nuances that have been established with each artist. Whether it be the 808’s that Diplo uses or the wonky synths that Skrillex uses, there’s a fusion of styles and enough to know who is who. Jack U does not play by any rules of being confined into a box.
“Beats Knockin” definitely sounds like a sequel to Diplo’s massive twerk anthem, “Express Yourself”. It has the New Orleans bounce sound including vocals from Fly Boi Keno that I’m sure will be in a lot of festival sets this coming year. “Take You There” was the first official collaboration and along with Kiesza, still sounds fresh within the narrative of the album. Throw the last track which features a verse from Missy Elliot (yes!) and it’s like a fresh coat of paint on this bouncy, feel good song. Jack U makes good use of their guest appearances again with AlunaGeorge and “To U”. Aluna Francis uses her dreamy voice to drape over what you would think was an easy and smooth track, but alas. The second part of the song introduces a brief play into the trap like cadence.
“Jungle Bae” is the perfect marriage between Diplo’s Major Lazer stable and Skrillex’s previous tracks, “Ragga Bomb” and “Make It Bum Dem”. Bunji Garlin presides over this dance hall drenched track and is a good example of the merging of the minds. “Mind” is interesting because it introduces Skrillex back into a vocal element coupled with Canadian singer Kai. It’s good to hear him back behind the mic as it perfectly complements Kai and the almost R&B like track. “Holla Out” screams of a Skrillex track down infused with a breakdown with the crazy “la la” sounds broken up with click drums.
I saved the track that many people are talking about for last. Yes, the collaboration with Justin Bieber, “Where Are U Now” and this is the defining moment of the album. Skrillex and Diplo have collaborated with hundreds of artists between them and I always admired their flexibility to make a track that complements that artist without losing too much of themselves. Bieber sings softly over the song that seems to bring the lights down and bring the album to a serene ending that brings the house lights up.
Jack U seemed to be a spontaneous gathering and the first album from the collective seems to follow suit. The ten tracks take almost everywhere both artists have been and perhaps, where they are going to go. Some of the best music happens when you try not to over think it and just let the vibe guide you – this is the closest to an electronic “jam” session that we are going to get.