Guns Don't Kill People Lazers Do album cover

Major Lazer is a red-beret wearing, microphone-ammo-belt sporting, rocket-powered hover-board riding Jamaican commando who lost his right forearm in a secret zombie war back in 1984.

His arm has since been replaced by a state of the art laser-gun and he is here, in the dancehall, to fight the never ending battle against mummies, pimps, zombies, vampires and all other evil types, so we may party safely…at least for tonight. I smell a comic or cartoon series, merchandise, ring tones, figurines, applications and adventure game.

As usual, Diplo does the expectedly unexpected. Teaming up once again with Switch after collaborating with M.I.A and Santagold, they hit Jamaica and into Tuff Gong Studios to work with some of J.A.’s hottest artist (as well as a couple of US female rappers, Amanda Blank and Mapei who truly hold their own alongside some heavyweights). And what can I say, just the idea of it, ya’ nu they’re gonna burn the spot like a laser copier, an’ make ya dancehall vibrate like a nokia.

The album rolls in sounding like Kool DJ Red Alert’s Popmaster Dancehall Show from ’94 with sound effects and live-show type shout outs; first half is hype yet this momentum isn’t really kept all the way I felt, if you consider the opening track Hold The Line (which also happens to be the first single & video).

With only a couple Rootsy jams on the album, one of my favorites being Can’t Stop featuring Mr Vegas and Jovi Rockwell which is a clever cover/version of the hypnotic You Don’t Care by The Techniques (legendary Keith ‘Slim’ Smith on vocals) from the late 60s. The project sports plenty of impressive dancehall ingenuity, paying homage to the sounds of the early digital era yet still the distinct influence and predilection to Favela Funk, Rock, Western and Electro elements infiltrate and at points dominate the mix.

Dancehall artist can never be blamed for being shy while waxing poetic specially when you think about the pretentiousness of artists like Shabba Ranks and Lady Saw (neither one of which features is in this lineup). So you can expect much slackness, gun-tooting gangsterism, odes to ganja and sexual themes gwaan-rampant in this episode, the funnies being Prince Zimboo on Baby where he argues with his auto-tune sounding baby about how he must not be greedy and share baby-mama’s breasts with him, classic.

A couple of ‘commercial-chart’ sounding tracks like Keep it Going Louder featuring Nina Sky & Ricky Blaze and Jump Up featuring Leftside & Supahype even though well executed (and obviously aimed at the US market) leave me wondering if they had a bout of the sell-out flu. Until you recognize the fact that Dancehall, in Jamaica, is Jamaican pop music and Diplo he the man, so he can use and do whatever he likes. Respect to their game.

Overall, I rate this album (released on Downtown/Mad Decent ) as it brings a lot of new creative angles through the production, the featured artists are top notch, so as you would expect the strike rate of a collaboration between Diplo (US), Swtch (UK) and trailer load of Jamaican sing/DJs is pin-point deadly, much like a laser.

Don Luchito