Sometime at the beginning of this decade, it became apparent that mashups had jumped the shark. While Girl Talk still has the clout to headline festivals, not many other mashup artists have found success in the last couple of years. The White Panda seems to be the one exception. While the duo, largely unsuccessfully, tried to morph themselves into remixers, mashups have always been their bread and butter. They return with The Pawprint, their sixth full-length album and first since 2011’s Pandamonium.
While trying to re-establish themselves, the White Panda don’t stray too far from what has made them popular–namely mixing well known acapellas with lesser known electro beats. We see this almost right away with “Wild Wild Catch”, a mashup of Will Smith 1999 hit with Vicetone‘s “Catch Me.” The mixture is not overly impressive but is the kind of mashup that still catches on with the Hype Machine crowd. What is more impressive is the mixture of sung vocals over instrumentals that we hear on “Kung Fu Classic” mashing Carl Douglas’ disco hit acapella with The Knocks‘ “Classic” instrumental and the most accomplished mash on the album, “Let’s Get The Man” teaming up Aloe Blacc’s “The Man” vocals with Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.” The mixture of classic soul and modern neo-soul fits together better than it probably sounds in your mind’s eye.
Other attempts at similarly formulated mashups do not turnout nearly as successfully. Perhaps the best example of this is “Pony Lasts Forever” which wastes a chance for to turn Ginuwine‘s acapella into something special. The Feki instrumental is too atmospheric for the vocals making it seem like an excuse to squeeze the acapella in there for novelty’s sake rather than actually doing something with it.
Despite a few missteps, The Pawprint is nothing to fast forward through. It delivers the warm, fuzzy nostalgia of hearing Tupac‘s “California Love” get mashed up with Backstreet Boys‘ “I Want It That Way” while still being danceable and fun. While The Pawprint might not break new ground in the mashup game, it does re-establish The White Panda as a force to be reckoned with. Your move Girl Talk.