Let’s get something out the way, this album is HUGE. Major Lazer is Diplo’s favorite project and has really surpassed any other endeavor he has gone on in the past. This album, even though rittled with guest producers and having Jillionaire and Walshy as team mates is Diplo’s brainchild. The production in Free the Universe is definitely a lot more focused than in Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazer’s Do. With subtle hints splashed throughout all the production, each track feels like the musical philosophy it refers to, with that modern dance polish. Talking about musical philosophies, Diplo returns as a world music ambassador. Dancehall, reggae and many more island and South American dance music styles are well represented through Free the Universe. From “Get Free” with its reggae dub licks, to “Jah No Partial” which is a love letter to dubstep’s roots in reggae dub facilitated by Flux Pavilion’s contribution. The drum work in Free the Universe is as tight as ever. Very polished, clean and easy to get hooked on.
The collaboration’s in Free the Universe are maybe this album’s weak point. As ambitious as this album is, it’s dancehall approach is brought to glory by serious genre legends like Elephant Man, Beenie Man and Shaggy, but is brought down by out of place indie and mainstream stars like Tyga, Bruno Mars, Ezra Koeing and Amber Coffman. Each track tries to bring out the most in every voice, which in the end creates a very nice sounding cacophony, but a cacophony in the end. Free the Universe does not work well as an album, and sounds like a collection of best hits. In a nutshell, almost every song in this album would belong in a very different playlist in your iphone. Diplo’s ambition has never been truer, better produced, danceable and unorganized as in Free the Universe.