Diplo was born Thomas Wesley Pentz in Tupelo, Mississippi in 1978. His stage name "Diplo" is derived from his childhood fascination with dinosaurs. "Diplo" is short for Diplodocus, a dinosaur similar to a Brontosaurus that lived in western North America during the Jurassic Period.
Diplo's rise to fame began with a change meeting with Sri Lankan rapper M.I.A. Diplo was spinning at a club in London when M.I.A. walked in and heard two of her songs over the speakers. She realized that Diplo's songs didn't really fit into any particular genre (much like her own), which made her interested in working with the DJ. Together, Diplo and M.I.A. created the hit song "Paper Planes
," which peaked at #4 on the Billboard US Hot 100.
In 2010, Diplo told Pitchfork that he doesn't care about what critics have to say about his music. "If you rated someone's popularity by how much hate they get from journalists, I'm f--king super-popular," the DJ said.
Diplo's music has been used in several notable ads, including spots for Diesel, Adult Swim, and Red Bull. When asked about the commercials, the DJ believes "you have to play the game to reach people these days." He also says that companies like Diesel have actually been incredibly supportive, helping him organize parties and concerts but also letting him do the shows his own way.
In January 2012, Diplo performed as part of Fatboy Slim's Holy Ship! Cruise. Fans aboard the MSC Poesia were treated to a private concert on a white sand beach in the Bahamas. The techno-lovers dream lineup also included Tommy Lee, Rusko, Skrillex, Steve Aoki, and Dillon Francis. Ironically, fans got a little more than they paid for when the ship ran aground after running into sand dunes. The error took a whole day to fix but luckily none of the 2,500 passengers aboard were injured in the incident.
In 2012, Diplo announced that he'd written a book about his experiences in the music business. 128 Beats per Minute: Diplo's Guide to Music, Culture, and Everything in Between chronicled Diplo's travels around the globe over the course of seven years and featured one chapter dedicated to each country he'd visited.