Major Lazer

A collision of Jamaican dancehall, swaggering hip-hop and howling electro samples, Major Lazer built their reputation on funky, genre-melding, eccentric dance beats to become one of the most imaginative DJ/producer outfits around. Formed when production duo Diplo and Switch met while working with M.I.A. in Jamaica in 2008, the pair recorded their debut album Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do in 2009 at Bob Marley's Tuff Gong studio with Santigold, Amanda Blank, Mr. Vegas, Turbulence, and Nina Sky all making guest appearances. The mixtape Lazerproof (2010), featuring La Roux and the EPs Lazers Never Die and Original Don further enhanced their reputation for carnival rave sounds from shantytowns, Caribbean rhythms and dubstep break beats, but Switch left the project in 2011 to produce for Beyoncé's hit “Run the World (Girls)” and was replaced by Jillionaire and Walshy Fire. Major Lazer went on to work on tracks for Rita Ora, No Doubt, and Snoop Dogg and became an acclaimed live act before their second album Free the Universe (2013), which featured Wyclef Jean, Vampire Weekend, Tyga, Bruno Mars, and Shaggy, made both the UK and the US Top 40. Peace Is the Mission, their third album, saw the light of day in 2015 and featured collaborations with Ariana Grande, Ellie Goulding and Pusha T. The album's lead single, “Lean On,” reached Number 4 in the US and Number 2 in the UK, breaking all-time records across streaming platforms. The album made it to number 12 on the US Billboard 200 chart but the second single, “Powerful,” featuring Ellie Goulding, failed to reach the same levels of success. “Cold Water,” with vocals from Justin Bieber, was released in 2016 and achieved number 1 on the UK Singles Chart and Number 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100. They quickly followed up with the EP Know No Better (2017) and a compilation entitled Major Lazer Essentials (2018), after which the trio announced the release of what would be their final album as Major Lazer: Music Is The Weapon. Finally released in 2020 shortly after Jillionaire was replaced by American producer Ape Drums, the album featured cameos by some of pop’s brightest luminaries such as Khalid, Marcus Mumford, and Nicki Minaj, and spawned the single “Que Calor,” a dancehall-inspired banger featuring J Balvin and El Alfa that peaked at Number 6 on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Songs chart.

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