Free the Universe is the second full-length album released by Major Lazer (the musical project of DJ Diplo). Although it wasn’t a huge commercial success, first record Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do, was a critical hit, so Diplo had a hard act to follow, but Free the Universe has done that!
Lead single ‘Get Free’ which features Amber Coffman of the American indie rock band Dirty Projectors is a wonderfully chilled out summer song. It’s an interesting blend of reggae mixed with indie pop, in the way that Amber’s voice really shouldn’t work with the synthesised beats in the background, but for some reason it really does. Second single, ‘Jah No Partial’ which features English dubstep producer Flux Pavilion is far more upbeat, and you can clearly see Flux Pavilion’s influence come through in the music.
Album opener ‘You’re No Good’, which features Santigold, Vybz Kartel, Danielle Haim and Yasmin is a punchy opener, with military-esque snare drums mixed with the girls’ sassy vocals. It immediately entices the listener, with its catchy chorus and conversational vocals.
The album features an eclectic range of guests, all of whom bring their own style to the record. From Shaggy in ‘Keep Cool (Life Is What)’ and Bruno Mars & Tyga in ‘Bubble Butt’, to Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend in ‘Jessica’, there really is an artist from every genre on this album. It’s a testament to Major Lazer’s use of truly diverse artists, that you could probably find one artist on this record that you like, even if you’re not a fan of Major Lazer’s music. The vast range of influences that come from such a variety of guests leads to a hugely varied selection of songs. Although each track does contain the reggae influence, every song has it’s own style, largely influenced by the guest artist. For example, ‘Jessica’ featuring Ezra from Vampire Weekend has the chilled out, acoustic element found in Vampire Weekend’s music; and each other track takes similar aspects from their respective guest artist.
There are some questionable tracks, like the before mentioned ‘Bubble Butt’, which basically features the words ‘bubble butt’ repeated over and over in the chorus, and then some incredibly crude raps in-between each chorus. And then there’s the music video, which is just something else. I would say watch it to see what I mean; but it’s really, really weird. So maybe just take my word for it.
Overall, it’s a really great offering from Major Lazer, definitely worth checking out even if this isn’t usually your kind of music! It’s a great record for the summer, with an awesome mix of more chilled out tracks, mixed in with instant club hits.