Diplomat's Son

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Songfacts®:

  • This slice of digital dancehall is a lyrical collaboration between multi-instrumentalist/producer Rostam Batmangli and frontman Ezra Koenig. At just over six minutes, it is the longest song Vampire Weekend have produced to date.
  • Batmangli commented in the band's track-by-track production notes: "I started making this song in my living room. At one point my roommate walked in and turned on the kitchen faucet, you can hear it running behind the guitar solo."
  • The song features a percussive vocal sample from M.I.A.'s "Hussel" and an interpolation of "Pressure Drop" by the Toots and the Maytals.

    The M.I.A sample was because Batmangli was a fan of the singer's Kala album. He said: "I loved Kala, I was trying to make Contra sound like Kala but performed by a band."
  • Batmanglij detailed the story behind the song during a Reddit Ask Me Anything session in 2013: "Ezra sent me a short story called 'Diplomat's Son' when we were in college," he recalled. "The last paragraph read: 'I wondered, watching him bleeding on the rugby field beneath my mud-covered boot, if he was looking at me through the proscenium of a Turkish taxicab's rumbling windshield or, perhaps, the small port window of the rickety boat which had taken him down the Ganges.'
    "Years later," he continued, "I started working on a song on my own, this was between our first and our second albums, I knew I wanted two distinct parts with two really distinct grooves but both Jamaican in feel.
    "I started to take the idea of the 'Diplomat's Son' and put it in a different context. I started to look at it as more of a love story than a story about competitive students. I had a vocal melody and lyrics for the chorus: 'He was a diplomat's son, It was '81'.
    "Then Ezra and I got in the studio and started working on fleshing out the song: writing a verse, and pre-chorus together. More sections after that. Figuring out some vocals for the bridge as well.
    "We added CT on drums, Baio on Bass... and the rest is history."

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