Aaron Harris, CP Photo Check the dancers: they're a big part of the appeal…
- Posted on Sep 22nd 2011 4:45PM by Anupa Mistry
South Rakkas Crew are returning home to Toronto as part of the Manifesto Festival's Red Bull Music Academy Culture Clash Sept. 22 event, where they'll represent Diplo's Mad Decent imprint against greats like Afrika Bambaataa and come-ups like Hudson Mohawke. Spinner talked to D-Rakkas about the group's new member, Mad Decent's cultural influence and their new EP, 'Gangsta Revival.'
How has your approach to making music changed over the past five years?
Individually it hasn't changed much. I kind of take a DJ perspective and imagine myself hearing the music in a club. I have to feel it first, and then hopefully other people feel it, too. With this latest EP release, 'Gangsta Revival,' I produced seven or eight of the songs on my own -- Alex G has been involved in a few other projects that have taken his time away from South Rakkas. I've kind of felt we haven't been productive enough over the years so my new resolution is to drop new product every few months.
There has been a big change with an addition to our camp. Marc Royal -- known as T Power -- is a technical genius in the studio and a wicked producer. Up until recently, he was a production partner with Shy FX and instrumental in developing his distinctive drum and bass sound. He helped mix 'Gangsta Revival' and mastered the whole thing.
You were part of the earlier wave of artists adopted by Mad Decent; how did that affect your career?
Mad Decent helped introduce us to a whole new market. There is a world of people out there that appreciate good music, no matter what genre. Our fans are the coolest. I love the dancehall fans, but when I see people that don't go to dancehall spots, and aren't part of that core, appreciate our music and come out to our shows, I know we are doing something right. And that's helping my Jamaican culture grow.
Why do you think Mad Decent is so culturally influential?
Mad Decent is ahead of the curve. They're a reflection of today's Internet-savvy, forward-thinking and music-loving youth. It's not about genres and titles -- what's good is good and what's cool is cool. They go out of their way to bring it to a bigger audience and I think it
helps bring the world closer together. It's becoming a global culture; taking a little bit of good stuff from many cultures and throwing it in one pot.
The 'Gangsta Revival' EP is pretty experimental in terms of incorporating very current electronic sounds like dubstep and moombahton. Is there ever resistance from dancehall audiences to outside influence?
I wouldn't really say there is resistance -- though I've been hearing some dancehall artists, producers and DJs complaining that no one makes real dancehall anymore. Most dancehall fans appreciate the growth of the market from remixes and artists stepping out and doing collaborations. Evolution is good for everyone.
What artists or DJs were your starting points when working with dubstep and moombahton-inspired sounds?
The obvious guys like Dave Nada, Afrojack, Rusko, Doctor P, Caspa, Benga; you know the pioneers. I'm into good music and there are lots of guys out there making good stuff, so let's applaud them all.
So South Rakkas are playing the Mad Decent stage at the Culture Clash in Toronto: What's your strategy going into a soundclash?
[Laughs] I didn't even know it was a clash until I saw the flyer two days ago! We were under the impression we had our own stage at a festival and we would be doing our own thing ... so, no strategy. Not yet, anyway!
What riddims are you guys feeling at the moment?
I've had my head in the studio for the last eight months so I haven't been touring or collecting new music. I'm just starting to collect again and I'm really feeling the 'Summertime' Riddim from Adidjaheim Records. It stands out because it's got so much musicality.
What's next for South Rakkas?
South Rakkas fans will be pleased to know we're putting out a lot more product moving forward; no more waiting. 'Gangsta Revival' EP is out now and the remixes keep coming in. I am starting to tour again and about to drop a riddim called 'Chachi' There's also a super-secret project that will drop before the end of the year -- a collaboration EP with a big Jamaican super duo.