Artist Spotlight: Young Franco
November 18, 2021
November 18, 2021
Back in 2011, Diplo recruited Jamaican-American DJ and producer, Leighton Paul Walsh, also known by his stage name, Walshy Fire, to Major Lazer. Diplo was heavily influenced by reggae and moombahton and Walshy Fire’s natural energy as a DJ and MC inspired Diplo to take Major Lazer in a new direction. Five years later, Major Lazer wins Best Electronic Song at the Billboard Music Awards for “Lean On”, “Cold Water” featuring Justin Bieber and MØ goes Platinum in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, and Major Lazer becomes the third most streamed artist on Soundcloud of all time. Walshy Fire’s Caribbean and African infused beats help put Major Lazer on the charts and now he’s making a name for himself as a solo artist.
Before Major Lazer, Walshy Fire DJd at various clubs in Miami while earning his Masters degree in Communications. As a child, he grew up on reggae and sought to bring the music of Jamaica to the American club scene. A chance encounter with record producer Supa Dups, who has worked with artists like Bruno Mars, Christina Aguilera, Eminem, and Drake, led him to be a part of the Jamaican sound system Black Chiney. It was around this time that Diplo began getting inspired by artists like Supa Dups and when Major Lazer began looking for new members, Walshy Fire fit perfectly,
“Basically, Diplo is the selector and I’m the MC. He’s the one that picks the records and mixes the records and I’m the one that’s out front and presents the records to people, makes speeches that makes the records make sense, and pulls up the records. I give the crowd humor when it’s time to give them humor, emotion when it’s time to give them emotion, and just keep the whole vibe intense throughout the whole set.”
On June 7, Walshy Fire released his solo debut album, ABENG, on Mad Decent Records and the album aims to bridge the gap between Africa and the Caribbean. With commercially successful songs such as “Call Me” and “Xcellent”, ABENG became an international hit that merged afrobeats with reggae, while also uniting an entire generation of music lovers.