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South Rakkas Crew - Causing A Rakkas

Author: Cyclone
Monday, 24 November 2008

Having produced beats for some of the biggest in the business, South Rakkas Crew’s hybrid urban style is beginning to get some serious attention; 3D’s Cyclone talked to member Dennis Shaw about their plans for global domination.

South Rakkas Crew are not yet a household name, but Dennis ‘Dow Jones’ Shaw and Alex G are working on it. They've forged their own sound, a mash-up of electro, hip hop and dancehall, which could potentially appeal to commercial urban audiences as well as fans of regional underground styles.

Not only have the Orlando, Florida team cut beats for dancehall stars like Beenie Man, but they've also remixed MIA, Lily Allen and the improbable Duran Duran. SRC raised their profile in dance circles last year with The Mix Up EP, encompassing the popular Mad Again, on Diplo's Mad Decent. As it happens, SRC aren't native Floridans; the pair originate from Toronto, with Shaw born in Jamaica and emigrating to Canada at six.

Both Dennis and Alex laboured at production companies back in Canada but felt frustrated in their efforts to enter the urban market. Alex was the first to relocate to the US, producing for the Miami bass outfit 95 South. That led to further work for Zomba acts, including N 'Sync, Justin Timberlake's old group. Dennis followed two years later at his pal's encouragement. Within a few months, he'd devised SRC.

Shaw credits SRC's diversity to their Canadian upbringing. “Living in the Toronto area, you have a mixture of a lotta different cultures and a lotta different scenes,” he says. “At one point or another I was into dancehall, I was into hip hop, all that b-boying, I was into house music, I was into the rave stuff, jungle music, rock, RNB, Top 40, just about everything - and that's how it is when you're brought up in a society like we were.

“To think that we just do dancehall is a misconception. Even with our dancehall, they all call it 'electro dancehall' because it sounds so much different than the stuff coming out of Jamaica - but that's us being true to ourselves. We've been influenced by a lotta different types of music and it comes across in what we do.

“A lotta people don't know that we do a lot of other different types of production. It's just the name 'South Rakkas' is what we put this [dancehall] stuff under. We've done production for pop and rock artists and all kinda different things.”

Indeed, one of their lesser-publicised gigs was assisting superproducer Rodney Jerkins on Michael Jackson's Invincible. “We just did a lot of drum programming and things like that on his album - and, actually, we might be doing some stuff on his new one! There's been contact with us for that, but it hasn't started yet.”

SRC will issue another EP before a full album. They're currently considering label offers.

Shaw was here for the Playground Weekender in March. Since then, SRC have remixed local hip hop duo KillaQueenz. The DJ is anticipating his second Australian trek, this time with Orlando's MC Agony. “It was great,” he says of his past experience. “The thing that I really loved about Australia is that we were able to experiment. Our sets would include hip hop, dancehall, reggae and electro - we were able to do it all. People really just seemed to appreciate good music. They were out to have fun. It was a great crowd to play to.”

WHO: South Rakkas Crew
WHAT: Play Days Like This! at the Entertainment Quarter
WHEN: Sunday 4 January