"Riri is lookin soo damn hawt in this video but its super boyz boyz boyz #howmaydere ? yahmsayin?," Diplo tweeted earlier this month. The next day, the producer recorded and tweeted a mash-up of "Boyz" and "Rude Boy" onto the web via his Twitter account. Still, Diplo says he's a RiRi fan.
"I downloaded Rihanna's album as soon as it came out because I was interested in seeing the pop world's take on dub-step [musical style], because that's what they were supposed to do," Diplo told MTV News. "It was pretty weak except for 'Rude Boy,' which is one of my favorite songs of the year thus far. I'm glad it came out as a single, but when I saw the video I was like, 'This is a total rip-off of M.I.A.'s "Boyz" video, with a little bit of Santigold as well.' But it's cool because she looks beautiful in the video. I just thought it was funny."
With three albums released between them, M.I.A. and Santigold — Diplo has produced tracks for both artists; his collaborator Switch produced "Boyz" — rule the genre-bending space of alternative R&B, reggae, dubstep and rock. M.I.A.'s influential single "Paper Planes," from her Kala LP, dropped in 2007, and then the track was sampled by Kanye West for T.I.'s 2008 single "Swagga Like Us" featuring Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and West — a very pregnant M.I.A. joined the team for a performance during last year's Grammy Awards.
Like M.I.A., Santigold's work has been a critical favorite but hasn't sold in large numbers in the states. Both ladies continue to fly under the pop-culture radar, but Diplo says their work seems to move the needle of the music industry.
"I'm here recording in Jamaica with Santigold and producer Switch, who's part of the group Major Lazer with me — we always come with really progressive ideas," Diplo said. "Even with our Major Lazer single, 'Pon De Floor,' after a year of the record leaking, now it's become the single for the labels to follow even though it's old for us. A&Rs want a record like that now, but we offered that record to all of those people a year ago."
The producer said he's happy that his work is appreciated, but he has to work extra hard to gain recognition for his ideas.
"People at the major labels always seem to be a bit slow to catch on to stuff that's trend-setting," he added. "Like M.I.A.'s single 'Boyz' was so cutting-edge, crazy and hyper-fast that it was scary for people when we made it, but now that type of music is digestible for people because M.I.A.'s already blazed a trail for alternative reggae urban music so we made it safe for Rihanna to do cutting edge things. I'm not mad at ["Rude Boy"], especially because Rihanna looks super hot in the video and it looks amazing, better than "Boyz." I'm used to getting our sh-- ripped off. We're paving the road so that other people can drive on it."
At press time, a rep for Rihanna had not responded to MTV News' requests for comment.