Major Lazer have always been a forward-thinking group since the release of their 2009 debut album Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do. But now the production trio are trying their hand at another level of creative innovation: the liquor industry. Walshy Fire, Diplo and Jillionaire teamed up with Bacardi to work on a limited edition rum. They celebrated the launch with the first Sound of Rum summer experience called “Spirit Up” in Miami on Friday night (May 26).
“I love it. My family’s from Florida and for me it’s a cultural touchstone right now,” Diplo told me about the magical city. “There’s so much different music coming out of here. There’s a really big no-class culture that has accelerated over the last 10 years of music in Downtown Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando. It’s just a great music scene.” Jillionaire also weighed in on the rum collaboration, saying “We’re from the Caribbean. And they’re a visionary and the best at what they do. They have a broad reach and they want to explore that, so it just made sense.”
Prior to Major Lazer’s fiery performance, the night kicked off in Bacardi Bay with a mouth-watering lineup of food that transported everyone to the Caribbean. Chefs from Pearl’s, Truck Stop, La Factoria and Chef Creole showed off their Trinidadian, Jamaican, Puerto Rican and Haitian pride with some serious down-home cooking! After stuffing my face with delicious bites like jerk chicken and jambalaya, I rushed to the stage to watch the performance.
Cashmere Cat set the tone for the event with his opening set that included tracks from his debut album 9 like “Trust Nobody” featuring Selena Gomez and Tory Lanez, as well as fan-favorites like “Adore” with Ariana Grande. The Norwegian producer also threw in some hip-hop and R&B gems in there for good measure, with the crowd drunkenly singing along to Kanye West’s “Father Stretch My Hands,” Drake’s “Fake Love” and R. Kelly’s “I’m A Flirt.”
Then it was time for Major Lazer to hit the stage, and boy do these guys know how to make an entrance! Donning matching white-and-yellow baseball jerseys, Walshy Fire and Jillionaire helped to get the crowd riled up as Diplo stood behind the turntables to churn out all of their maddening beats. The energy ran high for their entire hour-long set, opening with a new collaboration with Machel Montano presumably from their upcoming album fourth album Music Is the Weapon. Then, Major Lazer ripped through their endless selection of hits that transformed the Miami beach into a sweaty club jaunt. I shouted and shimmied to singles like “Run Up,” “Bubble Butt,” “Lean On,” "Watch Out for This (Bumaye),” “Bank Roll” and more.
The guys fused their own songs with party-ready tunes like Drake and Gucci Mane’s “Both,” Future’s “Mask Off,” Vybz Kartel’s “Fever” and Rihanna’s “Work” that fueled the crowd’s energy even more. But one of the biggest highlights of Major Lazer’s set was the surprise appearance by Camila Cabello, who performed their new “Know No Better” collaboration (which also features Quavo and Travis Scott) for the first time ever.
The new solo star looked confident as she stepped on stage as she sang the flirty hook, “Oooooh save that talk for the ones who don't know no better.” Cabello has been in the studio with Major Lazer for a while, so it was only a matter of time when they debuted one of their many collaborations. “She’s actually super open-minded about stuff so it’s not difficult to work with someone like her,” Walshy Fire said.
Diplo, who frequently teases his studio sessions with Cabello on Snapchat, continued,
“I didn’t know she was in Fifth Harmony when we met her! She’s from Miami too. Me and Walshy were at the studio and she came to meet us. She was playing a song she wrote and I really honestly didn’t know where she came from. Then we learned and we’ve been developing our songs with her and trying to write. I just love her attitude. For an artist that young, like with Lil Yachty too, it’s so cool to see. They give us such an awesome energy and they’re so open. There’s no wrong direction. I wish I had that. Sometimes you get that pressure where you don’t want to reach as an artist. But when you’re that young, you can go in any direction you want.”
As seen with their “Know No Better” collaboration with Cabello, Major Lazer has a knack for bringing out unique qualities in artists that they may never have realized they had before. But don’t they ever get strained with trying not to repeat themselves? The answer is no. “As a producer my biggest goal is to always do something brand new. Sometimes it’s a struggle because we always try to be ahead of the curve,” Diplo explains. “From ‘Pon De Floor’ all the way to ‘Lean On,’ there have been records were you’re like ‘What is this?’ but then people catch on to it like six months later.”
Next, watch our chat with Major Lazer on the 2016 BRIT Awards red carpet: