Diplo was born on November 10, 1978, in Tupelo, Mississippi, the son of Barbara Jean (née Cox) and Thomas Pentz. He is of German and English descent. The influence of home-grown rap played a key role in helping shape his production style. He spent the majority of his youth in Miami, where he got a taste for the characteristic Miami bass. He began attending the University of Central Florida in 1997. During his time at UCF, he became a DJ at local radio station WPRK, the radio station at Rollins College. He moved to Philadelphia to continue his studies at Temple University, where he first garnered attention as a DJ. After frequently running into fellow DJ Low Budget, the two began throwing parties under the Hooked on Hollertronix moniker in 2003 as a way of maintaining control of what they were able to play during DJ gigs in Philadelphia. The success of these parties allowed the two to release mixtapes, both separate and together, gathering acclaim across the country. One such mixtape, Never Scared, was named one of The New York Times' top ten albums of 2003, and the Hollertronix name became synonymous with parties featuring guests like Maluca Mala, Bun B, Spank Rock, M. I. A. , among others. Hollertronix's sound has been described as "disparate genres to be smashed together for maximum attention-grabbing impact" an aesthetic which takes from the "organic, cohesive, whole" aesthetic of acts such as Bun B, Lil Jon, Drama, M. I. A. , Björk, Busta Rhymes, and others.