Back in June, The Large tweeted “if u don’t like cheesy dancehall u don’t really like dancehall feelme,” a sentiment that could just as easily be applied to Bmore, footwork or any number of other contemporary dance forms. Case in point, London DJ/producer Smutlee first grabbed our attention via a blend of Dre Skull’s “Loudspeaker Riddim” and Breach’s “Jack”, a cheesy combination if we’ve ever come across one that still goes off every time we hear it out in the dance. Subsequent combinations of Jack U with Meridian Dan and Aidonio with O.T. Genasis cemented his place as one of the most creative blenders around and, more recently, Smutlee’s begun to refine his production abilities, combining his creative sampling with an ear for sharp rhythms.
The SAS EP, a collaboration with Serocee, was the breakout moment for Smutlee, a series of rethought productions based on grime classics (and Paleman’s “Beelzedub”) with the London MC riding roughshod over the top. It’s one of the best releases of the year and a clear-eyed merging of grime and dancehall, slowing down the former to a crawl and adding a rhythmic intensity to the latter. Smutlee’s Astral Plane mix jumps off with a series of remixes (“Take Time”, “Good Times”, “Jump Off”) and some quick dancehall jams before heading into some proto jungle and drum and bass, a range that Smutlee has always seemed to feel comfortable at, especially with tracks like Think Tonk’s “Opposite” and Gully Bop and Stylo G’s “Who She Want?” flowing out of numbers from Alix Perez and Sam Binga. Smutlee has made a name for his party rocking style and mixing virtually anything and everything, but it’s still fair to say that he’s at his best when rinsing his favorite bashment, grime and drum and bass, simultaneously offering the listener a condensation of each genre’s recent hits and collapsing the boundaries of those same genres.