Rap Reggae Revolution

Back in the day, a good mixtape was filled with enough variety that it could make you dance, sing aloud, or crack up laughing, depending on what tracks you were listening to at the time.

Somehow, producers have gotten away from that over the years, but local sound system gurus Black Chiney just dropped a burning hot new mixtape — their first in almost four years — that gives you all those thrills and more, plus loads of production creativity. The eclectic South Florida-based sound system is known for its high energy DJing sets and, thankfully, much of their sweaty nightclub dominance transcends to their latest release, The Black Chiney Show Vol 8.9.

What stands out immediately about the disc is the crew's trademark skill of blending red hot reggae tracks with white hot urban beats and pulling it all off with pinpoint precision throughout this 84-song set. For listeners, that may seem like a lot of tracks to digest, but, like old school hip-hop, they're giving you the best part of each mix for 45 seconds to a minute and then keeping things moving.

Producers Willy Chin and Supa Dups handled the mixing and production tasks, while selectors Walshy Fire and Bobby Chin do all the toasting. But where Black Chiney outshines most of its island competition in Jamaica is that they know what's banging in the streets of Kingston and Opa-Locka — and can mash it together so that both crowds enjoy their favorite riddims at the same time.

They've got an all-star cast of dancehall's elite featured on the project, and the hip-hop beats that they're all spitting over are ridiculous. So when you hear Buju Banton and Movado chanting over Shawty Lo's "They Know" beat or Elephant Man on top of Snoop's "Sexual Eruption," don't be surprised. The same goes for Demarco on top of Birdman's "Pop Bottles" or Busy Signal's assault of Kanye's "Flashing Lights." These cuts and plenty more are like reggae mash-ups on steroids, but where other sound crews try to imitate, it's clear on this project that Black Chiney is the originator of the style.

As rewarding as the production is, the disc is also full of hilarious skits, with Bobby Chin making prank phone calls like a Jamaican Crank Yanker. What's best is that Dups and crew are giving this 84-track blitzkrieg away for free on their website. It's easily the best reggae mixtape to hit the streets so far in '08, but Black Chiney won't charge a dime for it.

"We've been gone for a long time and I just want to make sure people get ready for Black Chiney Vol. 9," Dups says.

So it's no matter that this is their first foray into the mixtape business in a while. Black Chiney seems like it's only gotten stronger during the time away.

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Jonathan Cunningham