Major Lazer is an electronic music project created by American DJ and record producer Diplo. Formerly a collaboration along with English DJ/producer Switch, they parted ways in late 2011. Diplo has since enlisted producers/DJs Jillionaire and Walshy Fire (of Black Chiney) to help with the production and live shows. Their music spans numerous genres, usually fusing reggae and dancehall music with dance genres such as moombahton and electro house. They have released two full length albums – Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do and Free the Universe, released in 2009 and 2013 respectively. They released an EP entitled Apocalypse Soon in March 2014, which featured vocal contributions from Pharrell Williams and Sean Paul. Major Lazer also produced Reincarnated, the debut reggae album by Snoop Dogg after his name change to Snoop Lion.
2009–11: Debut album
Formerly made up of DJ Diplo and Switch, the two were introduced after working with MIA. The duo's first album Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do was released on 16 June 2009, on Downtown Records. It was recorded in Jamaica at Tuff Gong Studios. Vocalists such as Santigold, Vybz Kartel, Ward 21, Busy Signal, Nina Sky, Amanda Blank, Mr. Vegas, Turbulence, Mapei, T.O.K, Prince Zimboo, Leftside and others contribute guest vocals to the album, as well as additional production from Afrojack and Crookers. This is the first release to come out of the label partnership between Downtown Records and Diplo's label Mad Decent. Major Lazer ended a US tour last summer.
The album's first single was "Hold the Line", the video for which, directed by Ferry Gouw, was nominated for a MTV Video Award in the Breakthrough Video category. "Hold the Line" was also featured in the video game FIFA 10. The track "Zumbie" has a music video that features comedian Andy Milonakis. Music videos for the songs "Pon de Floor", "Keep It Going Louder", and "Bubble Butt" were directed by Eric Wareheim. In June 2009, Major Lazer were featured for the first time on the cover of the publication The FADER, in its 62nd issue. Major Lazer performed at the Falls Music & Arts Festival (Lorne, Victoria, Australia) on 30 December 2009, the Coachella Music Festival in April 2010 they also performed at the Pitchfork Music Festival in July 2010 and the Sasquatch Music Festival on Monday 30 May 2011. Live visuals were created by Pomp&Clout. Major Lazer performed at the 2011 Outside Lands festival in San Francisco. From February 2013 he is with the song "Get Free" in the Vodafone Germany TV advertisement.
A mixtape with La Roux entitled "Lazerproof" was made available for free download on 26 May. Diplo posted cover art on his Twitpic. It is the character Major Lazer in War Machine's silver suit, Elly Jackson of La Roux in the signature Iron Man suit, and Whiplash, the villain in the Iron Man 2 movie. On 20 June 2010, the group released an EP titled "Lazers Never Die". It contained two new songs and three remixes, by Thom Yorke and others. Switch provided production for Beyoncé's "Run the World (Girls)", which sampled "Pon de Floor".
2012–present: Free the Universe
Major Lazer's live shows previously included hype man Skerrit Bwoy although Skerrit Bwoy left the group in 2012 to pursue religion. In 2012, Major Lazer began working with Snoop Dogg to produce some tracks that are to be included on his new reggae project. Along with the project came his new alter ego persona known as "Snoop Lion". Switch has left the collaborative effort due to "creative differences" as claimed by Diplo. He departed in late 2011 and was replaced with DJ/Producer Jillionaire and Walshy Fire. In September 2012, Major Lazer announced that its upcoming album, Free the Universe, would be released on 12 March 2013 on Mad Decent. They also announced Fall 2012 tour dates.
Major Lazer partly produced UK singer Rita Ora's debut album, Ora. Major Lazer worked with No Doubt for their sixth studio album, Push and Shove. The album's title track features producers Major Lazer and Jamaican reggae artist Busy Signal, and was released as a promotional single in August 2012. Major Lazer launched their Fall Tour 2012 in October, with shows in Oakland, Washington, D.C., Boston, and New York City, amongst others.
In February 2013, Major Lazer signed with indie record label Secretly Canadian. At the same time, they announced the new release date, 16 April, for their album Free the Universe. They also announced the Free the Universe 2013 World Tour, which will run all spring.