In the last three years, DJ Snake has established himself as a dance producer with plenty of pop crossover appeal, scoring chart topping hits in the form of “Turn Down For What” with Lil John and the 2015 song of the summer “Lean On,” produced in collaboration with Major Lazer. The Parisian producer managed to carve out a niche in mainstream music with just a handful of one off releases, but as the album format has experienced a surge in popularity among electronic producers over the last year or so, it seemed the right time for DJ Snake to deliver his debut studio effort.
After a year of anticipation, his first full length release is finally here in the form of the fourteen track LP Encore. DJ Snake’s new release features plenty of marquee power in the tracklist, with major collaborators like Skrillex, Justin Bieber, George Maple, Yellow Claw, Travi$ Scott, Migos, Jeremih and more making appearances. Overall, Encore feels like a hard and fast collection of dance floor numbers tinged with hip hop and electronic pop, and just about every cut on the album plays like a could have been single.
Our first tastes of the album came in the form of “Propoganda” and “Middle,” featuring Bipolar Sunshine, at the end of last year, while the hardstyle cut “Ocho Cinco” and “Talk” with George Maple were heard in the months just before the album officially dropped. The styles present on the first few previews of what would come on Encore serve as a fitting representation of the work as a whole, which spans a number of subgenres, all presented with a polished, mainstream dance sound.
The Skrillex collabs serves as one of the biggest featured artists on DJ Snake’s debut album, and the two deliver a rowdy trap heater with screeching middle eastern melodies and offbeat, clanking rhythms. The Justin Bieber driven collab, “Let Me Love You” is another huge moment on the record that cements DJ Snake’s status among the ultra mainstream of dance music. Considering the star power behind the song, it’s bound to take over the radio for the next couple of months with its infectious vocals and irresistible dance appeal.
Songs like “Here Come The Night” with Hudson see DJ Snake branching out a bit with a bouncy future bass number with skittering synth chords layered over hip hop rhythms. “Future Pt 2,” meanwhile, is another collaboration with Bipolar Sunshine that features an upbeat house groove and ZHU-esque synth work, and serves as a departure from the rest of the songs on Encore. These moments disrupt the general flow of things on the record with more forward thinking productions, but seem to come few and far between.
DJ Snake’s love of hip-hop is apparent on a number of tracks that take inspiration from the genre, such as “Oh Me Oh MY” with Travi$ Scott, Migos and G4shi. Heavily auto-tuned vocals dominate the song over restless 808 beats and sparse instrumentation. “The Half” delivers the same sort of vibe, with electronically treated rapping and a catchy synth melody. “4 Life” follows suit but injects an ethereal production with choral samples that create a haunting effect behind G4shi’s verses.
While Encore isn’t an album that breaks new ground or pushes boundaries, its tracklist is comprised of plenty of serviceable dance and pop tunes. While the production values are high throughout, too many of the songs make use of the tried and true method of employing vocal samples to melodic effect. It’s a signature of Snake’s work that dates back to his first radio hit on “Turn Down For What,” but on the album format it starts to feel like too much of the same at parts.
That being said, Encore is still a lighthearted dance affair with plenty of energy to keep the masses satisfied, while weighing heavy with plenty of more radio oriented material that keeps the whole collection rather mainstream friendly. The diverse blend of styles throughout the album keeps things feeling fresh for the most part, as DJ Snake bounces around between tropical house, hip hop and pop while touching on the harder edged dance sub-genres as well. While DJ Snake seems to struggle with the direction of the album at times, Encore is still a solid release packed with plenty of thrilling dance workouts and memorable tunes.
DJ Snake's debut studio album, Encore, delivers when it comes to well produced dance music, due in no small part to the star studded list of collaborators. While it's not the most cohesive record to come out of the genre, the full range of sounds and styles keeps the collection of songs interesting throughout.