Chart-topping Frenchman DJ Snake exploded onto the Top 40 crossover market back in 2013 with the Lil Jon-assisted "Turn Down For What" and then again with subsequent radio smashes "You Know You Like It" featuring AlunaGeorge, the Major Lazer mega-collab "Lean On" and his melancholic lovers anthem "Middle," totaling upwards of 15 million units.
Snake has since locked down a hit-making formula that appeals to both festival frequenters and occasional radio listeners alike, as well as become an in-demand collaborator with many of today's hip hop heavyweights. Today, he released his 14-track debut LP titled Encore (out now via Interscope) that includes some of the aforementioned hits, but mostly a new catalog of feature-soaked tunes, showcasing the label's lust for quantity over quality.
The Parisian producer, whose duality is best displayed through chill frat house hymns and wobble-laden bangers, attempts to once again incorporate his infatuation with Middle Eastern and Moombahton influences on high energy tracks like "Pigalle" with Moksi, "Ocho Cinco" featuring Yellow Claw and the Skrillex collaboration "Sahara." From the builds to the drops to the embellishments, the predictability of each record proves more permeable than any guest feature.
Venturing into his passion for hip hop, DJ Snake enrolls some of today's new school on a few cuts for guilty pleasure numbers like "Oh Me Oh My," which features Travis Scott, Migos and Albanian singer-rapper G4shi, and "The Half" which boasts Young Thug, Swizz Beatz and rap chorus go-to guy Jeremih as guests—the latter of which feels destined for strip club speakers thanks to its cliche lyricism: "Treat your chick just like a whip and get another one/ Wanna grab it, push it, smash and get another one." Panty-dropper.
Encore's biggest guest appearance, Justin Bieber, comes near the album's end on "Let Me Love You," potentially to distract listeners from the fact the radio-friendly tune's opening sounds strikingly similar to the start of Snake and Major Lazer's "Lean On" and the drop reminiscent of Bieber's recent, Skrillex-assited Billboard home run, "What Do You Mean?" Inevitably, with the help of JB's unrelenting fan base, the song releasing just in time for the final days of summer should aid in nonstop radio spins.
However, not every record on his debut effort falls flat. Where DJ Snake shines best is on his own, free from guest distractions, especially for what's supposed to be his inaugural full-length production. Some of the album's probable chart-climbers like the playful "Sober" featuring JRY and glitch-hop recording "Here Comes The Night" with Mr. Hudson appear viable enough to contend against whatever else The Chainsmokers or Flume have up their production sleeves.
The success of dance/electronic albums is tricky, particularly when a super producer like DJ Snake has built his brand off multi-platinum chart dominance and when young fans unforgivingly expect the same monstrous result tune after tune. Plus, with presumed pressure from major labels, whose focus has shifted in the name of dismal music sales—except you, Adele!—from quality control to landing subpar singles on the monotonous factory line of product placements, it's imaginably realistic for an artist like DJ Snake to make better use of his time creating a catalog of music moments (or "singles"). Remember this, "Turn Down For What" was used in DriveTime's national TV campaign and "Lean On" soundtracked Google's Nexus 5S commercial.
When DJ Snake dropped "Turn Down For What," we had no other option but to turn up. When the behemoth "Lean On" released, we became culture vultures and transformed into Bollywood stars. His original crossover appeal was undeniably refreshing to the mainstream.
Encore makes an effort to appease millennial fans of varying music palates, tipping its hat to the gradual dissipation of singular genres, but the body of work in its entirety doesn't quite live up to the evolutionary magnitude of Snake's preceding game-changers.