If there’s one thing we know about the indie pop/hip hop duo known as Rebel ACA and The French Monkey Wrench (French) from their interview with Your EDM back in 2018 is they’re nothing if not diverse. Flipping from hip hop to electronica, pop to indie rock effortlessly and with no small amount of cheek, since we last spoke to them, the UK duo had recently teamed up with legendary reggae artist Spragga Benz on his Billboard #1 album, Chiliagon. Rebel ACA’s Damon Albarn-esgue rap verses featured on the single “Move to the Music” and it seems since then, Rebel and the French have developed a taste for reggae and dancehall.
Somewhere along the road to reggae, Rebel ACA and French met two more vocalists, Danny Sprang and iSTAND, leading them to try their own hand at reggae and dancehall production. The result so far has been two tracks in 2020: “Modulation,” released on Buttercuts Records in October and most recently, the pop reggae dance track “Dance Without Fear,” released in late December.
Danny Sprang is well-known in the reggae community in the UK in his own right, having recently charted at number one on a London reggae chart. There’s less information about iSTAND but his deeper, more traditional patois vocal contribution is a great compliment to Sprang’s modern dancehall/pop-style vocals and the production from Rebel ACA and French.
In terms of style, “Modulation” has Rebel ACA and French’s Gorillaz-esque knack for giving a basic, soulful beat that works as a platform for all three vocalists. Ostensibly it’s sort of a reggae/hip hop meld but it’s well-done enough that it supports the funk and reggae instrumentals, Rebel ACA’s more stripped down rap and the more ornamented ragga styles of Sprang and iSTAND. It’s a chill yet emotive track that gives all the vocalists and musicians a place to play.
“Dance Without Fear” is quite different from “Modulation.” A light, uplifting dancehall/house anthem with lots of island rhythm over top of the base track. The funk is present here as well and it drives the track forward as iSTAND and Sprang work the vocals. Intended to be a message of New Year’s hope after 2020, the lyrics remind listeners that it won’t always be like this and no matter what’s going on in the world, we can still always “dance without fear”.
It’s fun to see Rebel ACA and The French Monkey Wrench adding the reggae and funk feather to their cap. It seems this duo can adapt to any style really, “Modulation” and “Dance Without Fear” seem to really resonate with their fun, uplifting and cheeky ethos. Here’s hoping that they will continue to work with Danny Sprang and iSTAND, because that is clearly a match that’s working.
“Modulation” and “Dance Without Fear” are out not on Buttercuts Records and can be streamed on Spotify. “Dance Without Fear” can also be found in multiple other platforms by clicking here. Check out other artists and the YouTube streams of these tracks on Buttercuts Records’ YouTube channel.