Major Lazer Brings Electro To Dancehall And To Rock Jamaica

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This Tuesday July 14th on the roof top of Kress 6608 Hollywood Blvd. 90028

Two weeks ago I got an email from Filter Magazine asking me if I would be interested in hosting a ‘Major Lazer’ listening party at Rock Jamaica. We were right in the middle of planning our reggae Michael Jackson tribute and the Chali 2NA album release party so I didn’t respond right away. Once my time freed up and I spoke to Wes over at Filter magazine who he explained that Major Lazer is a Jamaica record at heart that has been produced by Diplo and Switch of Mad Decent Records. These guys produced MIA’s hit ‘Paper Planes’ and have a grammy for the T.I. version of the song. They are heavy hitters who fell in love with Jamaica on a trip there and decided to make a dancehall album that echos Jamaica’s current obsession with dramatically futuristic riddims.

Filter sent us the album to review and to see if Rock Jamaica would help in hosting a listening party for the album. Meaning we do our regular ‘Rock Jamaica’ vibe but throw in songs from the major Lazer album through out the night. We listened to the album and got blown away by the electro beats and the way the danchall artists such as Lexx and Kartel flowed so smoothly over them. ‘Rock Jamaica’ was created to forward Jamaican Culture and this Major Lazer album is definitely on some next level sh*t.  So we invite you to step into the future of dancehall music this Tuesday night at Rock Jamaica under the stars with Major Lazer and Filter Magazine. Filter will be doing some really cool Major Lazer giveaways throughout the night so at leaset come for for the free gear. Below is an article from the Jamaica Gleaner that will give you a good back ground on how the album and collaborations came together.

Major Lazer: Dancehall’s new commando

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Album cover for ‘Guns Don’t Kill People … Lazers Do’, displaying the Major Lazer character. –

The Major Lazer concept of a fictional Jamaican commando fighting zombies and its relation to local dancehall, might not be what most Jamaicans would understand at first glance, or even after an extended stare. But after a few explanations from foreign producing duo Diplo and Switch, it’s obvious that their latest album Guns Don’t Kill People … Lazers Do has Jamaican music at its roots, and mixes a little of the duo’s personal flavour that made tracks such as Paper Planes from MIA a hit.

The Grammy-nominated duo of Wesley Pentz, aka Diplo, – a Philadelphia-based DJ, producer and songwriter – alongside Dave Taylor, aka Switch, – a United Kingdom-based DJ, songwriter, sound engineer and record producer – has a catalogue of works of major artistes such as TI, Gwen Stefani, MIA, and Mary J Blige, to name a few.

The two combined to form ‘Major Lazer’, a fictional Jamaican cartoon commando that is seen on the artwork of their first dancehall album together.

Get people moving

Outside of combining on MIA’s last album, the two come from different musical backgrounds – Switch being a noted remix DJ and Diplo a producer that helped popularise the Brazilian baile funk genre, which combines samples and lewd lyrics in Portuguese. Both, however, share a love for Jamaican music, which is heard on the Major Lazer project and the first album, Guns Don’t Kill People … Lazers Do, which was released on June 16.

Despite Major Lazer’s intimidating look on the album cover, his mission is to get people moving, and his weapon is dancehall music. Diplo and Switch arrived in Jamaica last year, spending time in the Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, recording a slew of dancehall acts on fast dancehall mixed beats for the album. In a telephone interview with Diplo, The Gleaner learnt how the project came about. Diplo explained, “I started experimenting with Jamaican music about three years ago when I came here and did a few tracks with Leftside and Esco, Assassin and Macka Diamond and always wanted to come back and do more.

“I enlisted Switch, who I collaborated with for MIA and Santogold, getting some big songs for them and decided to work on a dancehall album together. I’ve always been doing dancehall with my first single being a song with Vybz Kartel five years ago. I took the dancehall and mixed and made it multicultural.”

Adding to the album is the original concept of the cartoon artwork and the figure of Major Lazer. According to Diplo, the concept was derived from his obsession with early Jamaican album artwork from Greensleeves, King Jammys and others.

For this project, Diplo reunited with Vybz Kartel, international acts such as MIA, Santogold, Kelis, Nina Sky and local dancehall artistes Busy Signal, T.O.K., Ward 21, Mr Lex, Ms Thing, Leftside, Mr Vegas, Jovi Rockwell and Skerrit Bwoy for 14 exclusive tracks – and a few ‘leftovers’ to be released at a later date.

A challenge

The first track which was released from the album is Hold The Line from Mr Lex and Santogold, with Keep It Going Louder from Nina Sky and Ricky Blaze following close behind. Two creative videos are also expected to hit the local and international rounds soon with the Nina Sky track and Pon Di Floor

from Vybz Kartel. In late summer, persons can expect to hear the political-based track Sound of the Silent from MIA and Busy Signal.

Admiring other producers such as Dave and Tony Kelly, Jeremy Harding and Stephen ‘Di Genius’ McGregor, the two said they enjoyed their stay in Jamaica but found scheduling recording time, and convincing local artistes to work with them a challenge at first.

“Jamaican artistes often don’t look outside of Jamaica and only focus on certain markets, but with the right concept they could reach so far because they are so creative. There is a lack of a proper industry though and organisation,” Diplo commented.

Currently, the two are busy promoting the album, having launched the project at the Quad nightclub in New Kingston recently and are moving on toNew York and Washington DC,as well as other cities. Locally, the two are also promoting the new music with mixed tapes that are to be released by Coppershot Disco. They are also looking forward to working on the next Major Lazer project early next year.


( L – R ) Diplo, Switch


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