The members of South Rakkas Crew are well established as dancehall producers — they’ve produced a handful of seven-inches and managed to sneak their way onto one of the best albums of last year, remixing the Bug and Warrior Queen’s “Poison Dart” for a twelve-inch on Ninja Tune — but The Mix Up EP is their first official release as a group. It’s a blend of a cappellas and studio vocals, with sights set nicely on both deejay and armchair consumers. The EP manages to complete an almost precise split between searing dance-floor pressure and messy cornball antics.
Like much of Mad Decent’s mostly excellent catalog, The Mix Up forgoes sonic originality for production perfection. Each song is an onslaught of well-worn breaks, keyboard presets, dancehall stabs, and early hip-hop references. Sometimes, it’s blindingly accurate; the remix of “Mad Again” is perfect club aggression, turning the techno synth jolts of Inner City’s “Good Life” into an undeniable speaker assault.
“Hotter Than Them” exists in an extended and radio format, and deftly twists an acid line around dancehall riddims and late-’80s drum machines.
Sometimes, however, the constant nods to the past get tiring. Their version of “Under Mi Sensi” is all candy, and when you put the Sleng Ting bass line, the oft-dropped Mr. Vegas a cappella, the amen break, and Grandmaster Flash snares all in one place, you may get a stomach ache. Things get worse when they venture into glossy, grinning, feel-good dancehall anthems, complete with keyboard horns and bells. You can only cram so much cheese onto the pizza before it falls apart.