Major Lazer: Peace Is the Mission

Peace Is the Mission provides the comforting thesis: if peace can be achieved by dancing, this is the album to spin.

Major Lazer

Peace Is the Mission

Label: Mad Decent
US Release Date: 2015-06-01

Music that doesn’t have its roots firmly planted in the United States has invaded the blogosphere and eked into the mainstream more or less over the past year. The hype surrounding Future Brown’s self-titled debut album, the seemingly inevitable emergence of grime music as a companion to American hip-hop, the European-tinged EDM pop that’s become a must-have for any artist looking to break into the upper tier on the charts. The melting pot formula is finally working for casual radio listeners and tastemakers alike, and for Diplo, the latest in pop’s definitions comes both a decade too late and just in time for his newest Major Lazer offering, Peace Is the Mission.

Though the album’s lead single is the Danish synth songstress MØ and DJ Snake (you know his brainchild, “Turn Down for What”) collaboration “Lean On”, the song sounds less like the international blockbuster that it is and more like Diplo getting first dibs on ripping the Soundcloud producer’s remix to it: her vocals float over a minimalist, clouded low piano before the hook’s familiar warped vocals and commanding drums ratchet the pace for a brief run. No, despite the song’s understood successes, the album’s opener, Wild Belle-sung “Be Together” has the greatest potential to turn this album into a stalwart of this year. Natalie Bergman’s forlorn vocals pleads “Let me escape in your arms / Baby, I’m yours”, and it’s understood that peace and love are dually important missions. As the song crescendos into the hook a la “Lean On”, the probability for this song achieving the same ubiquity as, say, Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” becomes apparent. With two aces in the whole, Diplo understandably turned back to his global-reaching roots for the album’s seven other songs.

The “authentic” Diplo, the pre-M.I.A. airing her grievances against and pre-Taylor Swift feud Diplo, emerged as a star via Hollertronix’s Never Scared and M.I.A.’s Piracy Funds Terrorism Vol.1 mixtapes released in 2003 and 2004, respectively. The two showcased the pinnacle of his producing abilities, finding just the right obscure genres to act as bombastic underpinnings for the digestibly fresh vocals above. “Pon De Floor” from Major Lazer’s debut Guns Don’t Kill People... Lazers Do reached similar heights, but the lengthy gap between hits found Diplo scrambling to rediscover his sound. Luckily, the K-Pop artist CL’s “Dr. Pepper” is generating buzz for all its dark synth weirdness, and tracks that made Peace indicate that he’s having fun once again.

Peace might be the mission, but that and the aforementioned fun are achieved from the peace pipe. While the album’s marijuana themes are evident (“Blaze Up the Fire”, “Light It Up”), they take a backseat to the booming trap and Jamaican dancehall nods that are found in conjunction with the drug. Unlike Snoop Lion’s overbearing Reincarnated, which Major Lazer produced the majority of, the influence is more reminiscent of the oddly charming Major Lazer FXX cartoon series, where it’s utilized as a facilitator of fun. The two tracks with direct drug allusions feature massive, pulsating beats that have a place in any respectable festival DJ’s playlist, while their danceability is understood. Unfortunately, only when he returns to this authentic setting features worldly artists are the highs, literally and otherwise, achieved.

Ellie Goulding and Ariana Grande, while impeccably capable pop vocalists on their own, feel out of place on this album’s international flavoring. Especially Goulding, whose love ballad “Powerful” feels like a B-side version of “Lean On”, and on Grande’s “All My Love”, her voice is given too much standalone time to feel like anything but another stab at radio placement. While bonafide rap stars Pusha T, 2 Chainz, and Travi$ Scott book in above-average appearances on “Night Riders”, it’s the powerful fireworks erupting under Mad Cobra’s verse that elevates the song to being included in the canon of must-hear hip-hop’s international pairings. If only he’d stayed true to this formula the whole album.

Peace Is the Mission is the second album Diplo’s had his hands on this year, following the rocky Skrillex collaboration Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü, and undoubtedly the better of the two. But evaluating it across his whole catalog, this occupies the second-tier below uncopyable classics that he churned out in the beginning of the 2000s. While that may be an unfair standard to hold any artist to, Peace Is the Mission provides the comforting thesis: if peace can be achieved by dancing, this is the album to spin.





How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?


The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.


'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.


​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.


Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.


Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.


Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.


Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.


Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.


Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.