The album artwork for Major Lazer’s latest release, Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do, is a hilarious and instantly appealing tribute to the golden age of comic books, with a decidedly black flavor. Similarly, Major Lazer has created an amusing study in combining white stereotypes with Caribbean dancehall rhythms and energetic toasting. Does the experiment succeed? Not always. But, at the very least, it’s a fun and totally dance-friendly trip. Just make sure you don’t black out.
Major Lazer, a native of Jamaica, knows how to capture the twisted and colorful spirit of Jamaican culture like nobody else in recent memory. He reaches his peak on “Mary Jane,” where he combines all his madcap antics onto one song. Combining silly jokes with seriously warped lyrics and samples and a tuba bassline, songs like this will make you laugh and dance simultaneously. His cast of guest stars is occasionally irritatingly, and some tracks, like “Pon de Floor,” are sparse and underwhelming. But for anyone looking for a clever and sarcastic take on hip-hop, Major Lazer’s efforts are appreciated.
Guns Don’t Kill People… is like an alien circus landed in downtown Kingston. It simultaneously inverts stereotypes and revels in them; it makes fun of all the clichés of Caribbean music, but it simultaneously exploits them surprisingly well. It’s a great perspective on the relentlessly macho world of dancehall, and even at its most cringe-worthy and cheesy moments, it still manages to put a smile on my face.