This coming June will mark the fifth anniversary of Major Lazer‘s debut album, Gun’s Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do, and while that album is already legendary in it’s status, in this one blogger’s opinion its importance would not be as highly regarded without the follow-up 11 months later, Lazerproof. Originally released four years today on May 26, 2010, Lazerproof was a mixtape from both Major Lazer & La Roux that brought together a slew of numerous contemporary styles in dance music from around the world through an electronic-infused dancehall lens. Though the collection of tracks could just be considered that—a collection of tracks—it would be unwise to think that. Expertly curated and sequenced, Lazerproof was a mixtape that not only brought re-imagined contemporary sonic hits in forward-thinking ways, but it also authentically put Major Lazer as cultural force to be reckoned with.
Major Lazer at the time was comprised of Diplo and Switch, an American and an Englishman united in a mission to bring dancehall sounds to the mass market, and La Roux was one of the hottest synthpop duos to hit the mainstream since the ’80s new wave era. The combination of the two units provided the makings of what would be a beautiful lovechild in the form of a timeless mixtape. At just under 50 minutes, Lazerproof featured tracks in edited and mashed form not only Major Lazer and La Roux themselves, but from Drake, Gucci Mane, Skream, Rusko, Heroes x Villains, and Nacey; it was simply ahead of it’s time. If Major Lazer’s first album put dancehall on the map and fed the mainstream the idea of non-traditional pop music, Lazerproof took these concepts to a different plane altogether, through alternative route to selectively put together a zeitgeist-popping masterpiece. Be it the mashups of Gucci Mane’s “Lemonade” with Heroes x Villains’ own version, Major Lazer’s flip of the Skream remix of La Roux’s classic “In For The Kill,” or the multi-sectioned and styled version of Gyptian’s “Hold Yuh,” the mixtape works as an effortless blend of universal themes across sonic styles and is exactly symbolic of the type of cross-cultural enterprise that Major Lazer, and Mad Decent as a whole, has come to represent.
The mixtape presents a narrative of resilience and it’s that spirit that has carried the Major Lazer project to the heights it has reached. Today, though, this mixtape is important because it’s precisely that: a mixtape. This wasn’t an album pushed by any major label marketing department, but a project with firmly rooted in the global underground, and as such it hit the underground on a global level.