Music

Video: Major Lazer – Pon De Floor

Winston "Stone" Ford 08/04/2009 23 Comments

“Pon De Floor” is one of my favorite tracks from Diplo and Switch’s album, Guns Don’t Kill People, Lazers do. The video is…um, yeah. If there is nothing else you can take from this, at least maybe you can find some new positions in bed.

This vid his HIGHLY NSFW. You’ve been warned!

Major Lazer “Pon De Floor” from Eric Wareheim on Vimeo.

  • Rashida

    As someone of Caribbean/Trini descent, I’m highly offended at this video.

  • http://www.theproseofarhythmscribe.blogspot.com K.Scribe

    the fact that they’re white men (major lazer) makes this even more problematic, irony or not. As an artist, I understand the purpose of art that evokes or ignites emotions, but beyond that how can this be their experience? Or perhaps this is what they see as onlookers of someone else’s experience, or EVEN BETTER, a fantastical concept they came up with, in which case I’m still offended. Some pieces of art advance human thought, some stifle it…major lazer. Irony does not trump racism (there I said it).

  • http://www.vinylmeltdown.com judge mental

    really didn’t find this to be racist. Sure, all the dancers are black, but I think it’s more important to note that they seem to be members of a specific and real subculture that happens to be black-dominated. I really would not say that this is casting any judgement on these people for being black, and i think it’s a big of a stretch to be honest.

  • http://www.theproseofarhythmscribe.blogspot.com K.Scribe

    judge that’s cool…i think we have two different definitions of racism (i.e. it’s not about the dancers being black), it’s a much more involved definition, probably a bit too academic for pop culture at times, oh well. My racism comment addresses Major Lazer as a whole. There were some other important things I said in my comment, and I’d love your opinion on that too…as I consider us colleagues.

  • http://ladyglockphotography.wordpress.com Lady Glock

    There are few things that should be looked at in this discussion:

    1. The people making the music, Diplo and Switch are in fact both white men. Diplo is well known for using different musical genres in his remixes as well as sampling music from other countries. He has also brought musical acts from different countries and given them a spotlight they wouldn’t necessarily have been able to get on their own.

    However, it still is appropriation, regardless of how much credit he gives the artists he samples.

    2. Let’s not look at this video and completely assume that Diplo and Switch had full control over it. (I’m not saying they didn’t have ANY say in it, but let’s go with a hypothetical for a moment) Sometimes a director will hear a song and create his or her interpretation of it. The director in this case was Eric Wareheim (better known as one half of The Tim and Eric show). This isn’t the first time he’s directed something so explicit…”Dance Floor Dale” (Flying Lotus’ video “Parisian Goldfish”) features two people doing more than just simulating sex. In fact, a website had to be created specially for the video because it kept getting banned. (Watch here…but be warned there are flashing lights and…um…flashing other parts http://www.dancefloordale.com/).

    Now, Eric Wareheim is white. The people he has casted in both of these videos are black. Is it because of this power dynamic (director vs cast) that makes the videos racist? Is it the flaunting of black sexuality that makes them racist? If the second question is true, then how does everyone feel seeing a video in which a black artist has the same dances? For example 77Klash (who is on Diplo’s Mad Decent label) has a video for his song “Mad Again” in which some of the same dance moves are played out as in “Pon De Floor”. Perhaps not to such an extreme, but they are there (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlYQxjOC0ag). Is this more acceptable? If not is it because of the dancers’ race? Or more because how they are dancing makes the viewer uncomfortable?

    I should add that I’m just bringing up these questions to further the discussion. Personally, the “Pon De Floor” music video doesn’t make much sense to me and seems like an easy out as far as video making is concerned. I really wished they would have done more with the cartoon of Major Lazer much like Gorillaz did back in the day.

  • http://www.glasshousedc.com Sonya

    So here’s my two cents…

    - I’m Black and of Caribbean decent however I was not offended by the video because of the influence of Reggae in the track and Black dancers portraying acts of sex through their dances. Weirded out as I was after watching the “Parisian Goldfish” video, yes but offended not so much. Black folks are exploited all the time but were not stupid. Clearly, the people in this video didn’t feel offended nor do they feel Major Lazer is a mockery to Black folks/Reggae culture. I’m sure these folks were paid but I doubt this was a multi-million dollar deal so they could’ve declined the offer.

    - Racist? Maybe. Misinterpretation of a demographic/sound they admire? Possibly. Poorly executed video concept? Very. I like the song but they definitely could’ve been more creative with this video. Even if they had Hula girls it would’ve still been not the most creative of video concepts.

    - No one race truly and fully understands other races so we all misinterpret each other, whether for comedic purposes due to racist motives or admiration of a demographic and just not quite getting it. Everyone’s a racist to some degree and the idea, reason, beliefs behind racism will probably never be totally eradicated. -

    -Maybe I should be upset as a Black person of Caribbean descent or because I’m a woman but I’m not. I wouldn’t listen to or watch probably 75% of the stuff I do tune into I was upset about stuff. I know a lot of Black folks who retort when they hear music produced by non-Blacks that was clearly influenced by “Black Music” is “Can’t we have anything to ourselves?”. The answer is “no”. Contrary to those of us who don’t think segregation is such a bad idea, we have to coexist with one another. So my answer to that retort is, “Make better shit!”. Blacks are known to be the most creative and artistically profound race so clearly we’re doing something right if non-Blacks want to remix “our music”. Take it back to the days of segregation and release that can’t be copied and when attempted it sounds like somebody struggling to keep up with the beat or watered-down pop music (think Race records). I think we became complacent over time because we could more easily attain post-secondary education and wealth and forgot that the U.S. is a capitalist and competitive country and that vein runs throughout all areas (even the anti-establishment crew). The U.S. will never be a utopia so everyone has to be a few steps ahead. Let’s kick it up a notch, stop crying the blues and making excuses for the shortcomings of Blacks in 2009.

  • http://www.tgrionline.com Marcus Dowling

    OK. So we start the Major Lazer issue with a hyperrealized Carribean male stereotype. We watched a cartoon of him kill zombie johns in the “Hold the Line” clip, and there was no angst pretty much anywhere.

    It is my belief that Major Lazer is an incredibly fun concept, replete with crazy possibilities if you decontextualize it from the concept of “real life,” and insert it into the world of fantasy. This is fantasy. A ridiculous fantasy of a Jamaican freedom fighter/pimp that fights zombies for the US Government with the aid of his rocket arm. In that context, the “Pon de Floor” video is perfect.

    Now if the the “Major” was a real person, and the video was aggrandizing his lifestyle, then it would a) be no better than Nelly’s “Tip Drill” video, and b) just a bit more than ridiculous and not okay.

    If you want to get jumpy about this, realize what you’re getting into. The producers making the music just wanted to do something as absurd as the concept they’re creating in.

    If you’re looking for serious discussion, you’re too late. We should’ve stopped them when the bare chested, dark skinned microphone bandoliered military man first hit the market. But we didn’t. We let it fly.

    Why, because at the end of the day it’s silly. Very, very, very,very silly. I understand the angst, but in the grand scheme of the world, it’s 3:40 mind numbing, head shaking seconds.

    Just my opinion. I expect most to think I’m wrong.

  • http://thecouchsessions.com Stone

    Wow, personally I thought this discussion would talk about about the sexual situations in this video rather than race.

    I gotta agree with Sonya, Marcus, Dafna, and Judge Mental. This is not RACIST!

    Poor taste? Maybe. A good video that do the song justice? No. But racist? No.

    I’m not even gonna lie, I was at the Caribbean parade in June and saw some acts that took place in that video (yes, dryhumping!) in the middle of the day on the street! Seriously, it is a part of that subculture and nothing else.

    Could Diplo, Switch, and Eric Wareheim have showcased this better? NO DOUBT. Does Black music get culturally appropriated all the time? You know it. But if you think that this video is racist and if you don’t bat an eye if this video was by Beanie Man and not Major Lazer then you might have some problems.

    There is more REAL racism going around in this country to be focused on this.

  • http://www.theproseofarhythmscribe.blogspot.com K.Scribe

    Good responses had by all, appropriation never gets easy to swallow and believe or not, I don’t reserve my comments re: racists judgements for videos for music/style culture sites, only. My focus is spread out pretty evenly. I think it’s so interesting that b/c ML isn’t a “real person” then they’re absolved of any responsibility to be conscious. As a fiction writer, the non-truth is based on something out of reality. Sonya..just so you know education is not the great equalizer. Just ask Dr. Gates…

  • Jon H

    people, before you make comments please do a little research…

    These are skilled Jamaican dancers paying respect to the dance/cultural phenomenon called Daggerin’ which has been huge in the dancehall scene for the past couple of years.

    References to and depictions of Daggerin’ were subsequently banned from radio and TV, because of the obvious references to sexual acts, by the government and since then the youth have responded by making the dances even more provocative.

    The dancers in this video seem to be some of the more known dancers and Skerrit Bwoy, the guy in the Mo-hawk, has attained some individual fame and has even been featured on Tru-Tv, though not in the most flattering light.

    About the Daggerin’ Ban:

    http://www.jamaica-star.com/thestar/20090207/news/news1.html

    A couple of Daggerin’ songs:

    Mr. Vegas:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fKdnMf5ceY

    RDX featuring Bermuda Kid:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fWLKZ2ZvlA

  • http://johneblood.tumblr.com Johneblood

    You people are fools! The type of music is dub step which is rooted in JAMAICAN DUB MUSIC. They also seem to have some dance hall samples (also rooted from Jamaica. When Jamaican’s dance to dub step this is how they dance. They have been dancing like this long before Diplo and Switch formed Major Lazer. These guys are not in any way racist, they did not make this video to be condescending, nor did they force the dancers to dance like that.

  • Rob

    Typical over sensitive western culture. Always quick to scream racism. Every one of you, Except for Jon H, have managed to suck the fun out of a visually stunning and brilliant video, and a very fun song.

    As Jon H said, before you get all uptight about something, research it.

    Eric Wareheim (of Tim and Eric fame on cartoon network) makes his comedic living by lampooning video culture. 80′s lo-fi public access, silly themes in videos. He also has a stunning ability to put together visually intense colors.

    Daggerin’ is awesome, and Skerrit Bwoy is hilarious and very talented.

    Just quit looking for racism in everything and enjoy stuff you uptight nerds.

  • http://picky.spreadshirt.com darel

    John H and everyone after him. Thank you for having some sense and not being panzies. John H hit it right on the head with his research provided.

    I’m trying to figure out who is so lame they went to pick this apart as racist. k-scribe, etc. Are you really that much of a lame that just because you knew the dj’s to be white that you say this is racist. Luke and hella other artist have depicted us in a much more terrible light…and you trip of some forieners doing a dance , that they invented, and holler racism…..stupid. really stupid…i’de delete my ignorant comments if I were you *(K.Scribe, Sonya, etc)

    fyi, i’m 26, black, from the midwest and work as the IT coordinator at a major university. so as well as all you may have articulated your unfounded opinions, you are just friggin rain on a parade and most people like you unintentionally hate on our people and hold us back by not picking your battles. clean it up

  • Saba

    My issue with this is look at who the audience is for this venture. I support people from different communities getting their stories, experiences, particular versions of their culture out there in the public, so that there is a greater slew of individual accounts that will prevent homogenization of a culture or notions of otherness from rising. But that’s just it, there ISN’T a slew of Jamaican experiences. And I’m not even doing the whole white people/black people thing, it’s deeper than that. Westerner’s are going to caricaturize this culture, associating it with, in this case, hypersexuality, and rob this group of their individuality.
    It’s not like they’re being presented with other accounts of Jamaicans that would help formulate a complete mental picture of that culture and these people. So it’s like they aren’t even people anymore, they’re caricatures.

    It’s the same thing as what Westerner’s have done to South Asian culture (I’m Pakistani), and every other ‘ethnical’ culture for that matter. South Asian women, for example, aren’t people with complex identities and nuances, they’re just girls that like to belly dance and put dots on their forehead. Cause that’s the only image you see of us, those are the only stories that are out there in the public, and it is that which formulates ideas in the private mind. At least if you’re not aware enough to check yourself.

    And it’s stuff like THIS which makes it a little bit easier for someone to come up to me and ask me if I ‘know about that kama sutra shit’ and rob me of my human-ness. My complexity. My whole person-ness. I am just a f’ing cartoon character.
    And it DEFINITELY goes beyond black/white. People of color internalize this media bs and do it to each other too. Unless of course, they’re cognizant enough to check themselves, again.

    If you still don’t get it….read a book homie. Here, let me suggest something. Pick up some Bell Hooks, some Angela Davis, some Edward Said. Or if that’s asking for too much, at least just watch this video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xtoanes_L_g

  • hmmm

    I see good points in both arguments…I really don’t think Major Lazer or Eric Wareheim seek to intentionally make something racist, but, couldn’t they make something else? The images are so stereotyped, so caricatured…you’d think they’d have a little more smarts than to make something like that. Of course, your average rap video is way worse, right? And everybody is totally desensitized to it. And it does make a sickness in the culture, I’ve heard people say stuff like “Well that’s just part of African American culture” when referring to guns, misogyny, etc. like with not a hint of irony.
    I’m totally wondering if I’m going to see Henry Louis Gates protesting outside the Major Lazer show here…..LOL. I’m gonna let you guys know if I do!

  • elvis

    hmmmm… i’m jamaican, i LIVE IN jamaica, and i’m in the music business. to call these images stereotyped or caricatured is incorrect – go to ANY big dance in Jamaica and the dancers in this video will look absolutely ordinary and bland – the video is not the greatest but it does take exactly the vibe of what is currently happening (or at least the time this was made) in our music scene and mirror it.

    as for people hating on diplo & switch (and countless others) for musical appropriation i have two things to say:

    1 – the solid rock that lies under jamaican music is appropriation of other musics in a way perhaps not equaled by any other genre – reggae arose essentially from an attempt to make a local form of american r&b, that in the quintessential jamaican way got a little screwed up in the mix… and it is not just “black” music in the mix here – american country & western has been a HUGE influence throughout the entire history of Jamaican music – at the same time those early ska and rock-steady singers were covering curtis mayfield, the moonglows and so on, they were also covering jim reeves, marty robbins, skeeter davis and many more. many of the classic “riddims” are in fact originally cuban (taxi, rockfort rock, etc.) – have you ever heard Ninja Man’s heart-rending and horrifically off-key rendition of “Mississippi” by Anne Murray? anyway you get my point.

    2 – we in jamaica and the biz constantly bitch about reggae breaking through and being successful internationally etc., but when someone actually pays homage to it (like Major Lazer) we get our panties all in a bunch and start to call out things about white people and foreign people and so on. sorry but you can’t have your cake and eat it too – that’s part of breaking through, people here are just sour because most of them don’t have their shit together enough to take advantage of the momentum that these kind of things can generate.

    nuff said

  • Mike Henderson

    There is nothing racist about this video, just have some fun and watch it. What I do find racist is questioning the making of the video by “two white men”. What does it matter? Who cares the skin colour of the men who made the video? Who cares the skin colour of the people dancing in the video. Racism continues because people think in terms of race to this day. Stop thinking that way. We are all creatures of god. Enjoy the fruits of our labour, don’t put it down.

  • http://milliondollarextreme.tv honky black

    The video was made by Eric Wareheim, not Diplo and Switch, although I’m sure they saw it before it was put out there, they did not come up with the idea, Eric Wareheim did.

    Eric Wareheim made the video Dancefloor Dale, which is literally two black people fucking. There is no need for discussion about this video, it is clearly racist, made by a white man with a small dick who is obsessed with black sexuality’s seeming mixture of slapstick and raw energy. He masturbates to black porn, and also laughs at black people like they are monkeys. THE END.

  • lux

    this isn’t racist, this is actually clearly not racist. just because the music director happens to be white…? what? you lot have lost your minds. racism will alway survive if people use it in the wrong way, like slamming something fun and irrelevent. i hope you guys are poking the racist stick at all the artists who have full directoral rights and still continue to sterotype thier culture and future, because thats just as worse and you guys sitting in forums talking about something in a wrong light. change your view point and what you look at changes. shame on you all for saying the R word over something like this. i’ve seen this exact dancing in jamacian dance halls and its totally normal and acceptable. this is polititcal correctness gone silly. and i think eric should be highly commended for his creative and conceptual video. his work is light and refeshing and a complete world away from the racist videos you should be worrying about. mtv base has enough to re-enforce any sterotype of black culture going, but its made by black people so its ok right? (banging my head against the laptop?) this video is marvellous.

  • Whitney

    I think this video is totally hot! I LOVE watching it. Everyone looks like they’re having so much fun. The dancing is hilarious and creative. The only thing this video makes me question is how comfortable I am watching something so explicit, even though there is no nudity. It’s brilliant!

  • Whodem

    who are the other dancers in the video besides skerit bwoy?

    love the video btw. daggerin mi seh!!! lol

  • DANI C.

    you are joking me, right? those dancers were amazing. maybe they just are the lead entertainment because they are really talented. and when it comes to this all you really have to ask yourself is were you entertained? because if you maintained focus then major lazer succeeded and that is his job— to entertain. but now that you are spending your precious time and effort into thinking about this deeper…. lets just say the jokes on you if you “dislike” it.

  • Jason

    This is how much they care about your opinions! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCNoz26oRrs&feature=fvw

    I was entertained, looked like some pretty hard/difficult moves…. who is that chick from the beginning in the red skirt? She looks nastyyyy i’d bang her!