Major Lazer - MAD DECENT/DOWNTOWN
FILTER Grade: 87%
By Shane Ledford on April 16, 2013
Call it explosive, call it exploitative; call it genius, call it gentrified; call it what you will, one thing is for certain: Diplo and his Major Lazer project is on some next-level shit, and it’s going to be a global force to be reckoned with in 2013. Divorced from former partner Switch due to “creative differences,” Diplo has forged ahead with the Major Lazer name and aesthetic, adopting Jillionaire and Walshy Fire into the tropical cartoon fold for the project’s second full-length, Free the Universe. The mish-mashed mash-ups of genres here are so interesting, varied and fresh that you could probably just start making them up and you’d still be right. Firestorm jungle rock, electro equator equality, hyphy-pythy punk-squünk, a-wop-bop-a-loo-mop-a-wop-bam-boom-bip…it’s all here, and it all fucking rips. Wyclef crooning about Instagram over a slowed-down, inspirational, Billboard-charting remix-ready beat (“Reach for the Stars”)? Yup. Peaches and Jamaican songster Timberlee going toe-to-toe on the low-end-heavy party rock number “Scare Me”? Sho nuff. Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig falsettoing an irie rocksteady slow jam on “Jessica”? Don’t mind if he does. Bruno Mars and Tyga waxing not-so-philosophical about round rumps on “Bubble Butt”? Hell yes. The multiple guest stars on each and every one of these 14 tracks have been upgraded from the regional heroes found on 2009 Lazer debut Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do to bona fide industry studs on Free the Universe. Some might view this third-world talent invasion as a form of dancehall imperialism, but there is depth here, respect, knowledge and oodles of heart…and enough freaky fun to dagger 52 weekends away. Dance floors will alight, festivals will erupt, enough sweat will pour to fill a new ocean…and Major Lazer will be there to play the newly formed beach party. Yah, bwoy—you’re so free.