Release Date: Jun 16, 2009
Record label: Downtown
Genre(s): Dance, Reggae
Produced by the DJ tandem of Switch and Diplo, the record features verses from (among others) Mr. Lexx, Santigold and Ricky Blaze, the charismatic T-Pain doppelganger who leads an irresistible club track called “Keep It Goin Louder,” which might as well be the album’s subtitle. Mind-blowing noise comes from every direction—there’s a militaristic snare drum, a whinnying horse, a coarse surf guitar and an awesome Auto-Tuned baby.
Major Lazer-- a cartoon Jamaican commando who looks like a sort of military "Mean Joe" Greene-- lost his arms in the secret Zombie War of 1984, before later receiving prosthetic lasers as replacement limbs from the U.S. military. At least according to Diplo and Switch, the producers behind the Major Lazer project and its debut LP, Guns Don't Kill People-- Lazers Do.
Pan-American dance diplomats Diplo and Switch moved from Brazilian baile funk and Baltimore club music to Jamaican dancehall for Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do, the debut album for their Major Lazer project. (There was also a one-off Top Ten hit and Grammy-nominated Record of the Year in there too, for M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes.") The results are impressive standard-bearers for dancehall, displaying the duo's ample facility for floating the type of productions that have made dancehall the most experimental and extreme type of commercial dance music since it dawned in the mid-'80s.
What do you get if you Auto-Tune the sound of a baby? A ghostly and beautiful noise, as it happens, which turns up on the penultimate song of this kaleidoscopic and rambunctious album. Sadly, the men behind Major Lazer - dance producers Diplo (Philadelphia's Wesley Pentz) and Switch (London's Dave Taylor) - opt to end their most striking musical idea after just one minute. But then, they have a right to be confident.
There's been a lot of advance buzz around Diplo and Switch's dancehall reggae project, Major Lazer. The two producers come into the game from very different backgrounds but do share the honour of having worked extensively with M.I.A., and their specialties complement each other. [rssbreak] As outsider takes on the genre go, this one isn't as freaked out and otherworldly as, for example, the Bug's tripped-out deconstructed dancehall.
Acollaboration between clubland cardinals Diplo and Switch, Major Lazer have arrived with an album of electro dancehall guaranteed to get white people of the western world dancing badly. Clamping the effects and tempo of electro house to dancehall's rhythms and rhymes, Guns don't Kill People ... is a party album heavy on the bassline, the echo and the sexual content.
Major Lazer is the name assumed for Diplo and Switch’s collaboration on this dancehall album. Although these two producers have not previously released music within this genre and they strike a playful tone within their work (including a silly backstory for Major Lazer involving zombie wars and laser arms), they are not playing make-believe as dancehall producers. Diplo and Switch brought fiery beats to the Tough Gong studio in Jamaica, where some of dancehall’s major players, along with Santigold and Amanda Blank, dropped their vocals.
Like Supermayer (Michael Mayer and Superpitcher) and Madvillain (Madlib & MF Doom) before them, Major Lazer, aka Diplo (Wesley Pentz) and Switch (Dave Taylor), have alleviated some of the baggage that the debut of a heavyweight duo like theirs can bring, by giving it a crime-fighting comic book alter ego. Major Lazer is, according to the press release, “a Jamaican commando who lost his arm in the secret Zombie War of 1984”, and now, fitted with a lazer-shooter for an arm courtesy of the US military, is “a renegade soldier for a rogue government operating in secrecy underneath the watch of M5 and the CIA”. How does he achieve his stealthy objectives? By posing as the owner of a dancehall nightclub.
Review Summary: Guns and lazers and zombies and Jamaica and dance and dance and dance and dance.World, meet Major Lazer. Major Lazer, meet world.Consider it an honor – after all, this is the Jamaican commando who lost his arm in the secret Zombie War of 1984, only to have the US military rescue him and replace his phantom limb with experimental lazers. Like I said: an honor.
Major Lazer is a decorated Jamaican military commando. He’s a veteran of the secret Zombie war of 1984 with a laser for an arm. He now leads a battalion of MCs on a mission to bring dancehall out of Jamaica to the masses. There are some suspicions that the Major is just a puppet for the behind the scenes machinations of Privates Switch and Diplo, even some explosive rumours hold that Major Lazer may not even exist.
The likelihood of someone enjoying producer Diplo’s dancehall quasi supergroup Major Lazer may closely parallel the divide between those who appreciate the utility of social networking apps and those who say things like “who has time for that shit?” One must be able to tolerate a certain degree of foolishness in order to make it through to the moments that count. For example, follow Diplo’s Twitter stream over the last several months and it’s hard to believe he’d have time to make this kind of record, as evidenced: Guns Don’t Kill People. .