Major Lazer is the nom-de-record of the collaboration between producers Diplo and Switch. The name belongs, supposedly, to a one-armed Jamaican commando who fought in a secret zombie war. Instead of prosthetic arms, he now has lasers for hands. Yes, you read that correctly. Given that back story, Guns Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do sounds pretty much exactly how you’d expect it to – complete with off the wall beats, uncontrollable lyrics, and awesometastic videos.
The album isn’t for everybody. It’s not really an old-people-album, it’s not really a jam-band-fan-album, it’s not really an offended-by-off-color-lyrics-album.
Nor is the album for all situations. It’s not really a gradually-wake-up-to-album, it’s not really a mellowing-out-in-your-living-room-album, it’s not really a just-got-bad-news-album.
But for those moments and people that it’s meant for, it’s perfect. Do you often find yourself with a bunch of buzz-chasing kids looking for a dance party? Bingo. Are you a DJ looking for a Santigold cut to mix with (the also Diplo and Switch produced) “Paper Planes”? Bingo. Are you Usain Bolt looking to get pumped up before a race? Bingo. This is the album for you.
I don’t claim to be a dancehall expert in any sense of the word. My exposure to reggae is pretty much confined to people with the last name Marley, I don’t know the difference between dubstep and dancehall, and I used to like Sean Paul in high school. But the fact that I don’t know much about those genres and scenes shouldn’t change the fact that I ride for this album. In fact, it should probably serve as an extra bonus – even people who know nothing about what they’re listening to will dig it!
Guns Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do opens with “Hold The Line”, backed by a Bird Is The Word bassline and fronted by a stutterstepping Santigold. It’s some high energy, high intensity material, and one of the album’s standout tracks. “Anything Goes”, featuring Turbulence, is another highlight. Turbulence’s Jamaican accent is interwoven with synthesized strings, laseresque sound effects, and explosions. It’s here that Diplo’s description of the album is apt: “digital reggae and dancehall from Mars in the future!”
Edited: February 17th, 2010