Major Lazer: “Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do”
Dancehall is a musical idiom with its roots in Jamaica—a fact that you’d almost be forgiven for forgetting in 2009, after several years of British and American producers and DJs planting their own colonial flags on the genre’s turf, and importing much of it back to their own homelands. A simple form at heart, dancehall offers enough flexibility and room for creative interpretation and ornamentation that it’s become a favored style in US and UK dance music; according to MetaCritic, the top-rated album of 2008 was The Bug’s London Zoo, a distinctly British album by a distinctly British producer (albeit with some Jamaican vocalists in tow), which commandeered dancehall as a vessel for political outcry that was both universal and—yes—distinctly British.
Which is all simply to say that it shouldn’t be too surprising to find that 2009’s flagship dancehall release—at least stateside—is a collaborative affair between one Yank and one Brit. (Never mind that they’re both white.) Diplo and Switch christened themselves Major Lazer for their explosive and expansive debut, Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do, a record that actually stands as a fairly complete primer on dancehall’s tropes and its dizzyingly creative spirit—again, no big surprise.
Read the rest at Stereo Subversion.