South Rakkas Crew
“When it comes to knowing what mashes a dance, few production outfits can match South Rakkas Crew.”—Pitchfork “South Rakkas Crew make some of the most electrifying dance music on the planet.”—The Guardian Diplo and ‘N Sync? Deerhoof and Elephant Man? Tricky and Michael Jackson? M.I.A and Thom Yorke? Just one name links up this diverse, groundbreaking posse: forget Kevin Bacon—when it comes to six degrees of the most cutting-edge music production out there, there’s only South Rakkas Crew. Rugged dancehall, shameless pop, hipster-electro bangers, rude dubstep—fuck it, South Rakkas does it all. A duo comprised of Alex Greggs and Dennis “Dow Jones” Shaw, South Rakkas took an unusual path to become the dons of today’s digital funk. South Rakkas first gained fame for their blazing dancehall riddims (“Clappas,” “Red Alert,” “Bionic Ras,” “Chinkuzi” anyone?), which brought production work for stars like Mr. Vegas and Elephant Man. But it’s not for nothing that XLR8R recently praised South Rakkas for their “boundary-pushing” powers; indeed, these futuristic rhythm killers can’t be held down to any one sound or style. SRC can flex from Beenie Man and Bounty Killer one moment, T-Pain the next, and then on to the likes of M.I.A., Lily Allen, Beck, Duran Duran, Justin Timberlake, The Bug, Warrior Queen, Britney Spears, Shakira and Yo Majesty—all of whom have been touched by South Rakkas’ edgy studio savvy. Those skills came about when Greggs and Shaw met up working at the same recording studio. Both had roots in the local hip-hop/reggae scene: Greggs created beats for local rap groups and, erm, Barenaked Ladies, while Shaw spent a misspent youth as a charismatic, party-starting DJ (“Rakkas” is in fact a local West Indian slang term for “rockers” reggae music that Shaw used to put on his DJ fliers to indicate his parties’ music policy). The concept for SRC first hatched, though, when Greggs and Shaw moved to Orlando, Florida to become a crucial part of ‘N Sync’s production team. There, the pair decided South Rakkas Crew, would combine both their strengths. The plan was simple: Greggs would hold down the pop/dance production side in Florida (his work with the archetypal boy band on smash albums like "Pop" would catapult him into the pantheon of platinum-plated star producer/mixer/remixers); Shaw, meanwhile, would travel to ruffneck Kingston, Jamaica, where an introduction from his brother-in-law Mr. Vegas gave him access to dancehall’s top talent. Rakkas’ first riddim, “Clappas,” quickly proved a major island smash, paving the way for many more; Jamaican and non-Jamaican audiences alike also appreciated SRC’s talent for fusing hook-laden song structure with sound-system destroying beats.