Tag Archives: Irie Ites

Daddy Rings returns with a varied set

The under-recorded Jamaican singjay Daddy Rings returns with his third solo album following the successful The Most High, which dropped almost ten years ago. During these years Daddy Rings has only recorded sporadically. A pity since he’s great talent with a catchy melodious flow.

The first single off In the Streets was released in December last year. It’s the title track and a combination with Daddy Rings’ long-time sparring partner Gentleman. The single – with its militant beat and dubstepish style – certainly boded well for the album.

The album isn’t in the same dark and aggressive style however and is rather a combination of several different elements; both heavyweight and lightweight. Jah People is uplifting dancehall with beautiful acoustic guitars and album opener Don’t Say a Word is a certified summer anthem with its flute, bright horns and catchy chorus.

The album ends with a ginormous bass line. Irie Ites’ hip-hop version of their Billie Jean riddim is outrageous and Ganja Pipe is a sound system destroyer as well as an instrument to annoy neighbours. And it will eventually get you evicted and out on the street.

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A bomb from Perfect Giddimani and Irie Ites

PerfectGiddimaniReggaeFarmWorkOn Perfect Giddimani’s ninth album Reggae Farm Work he has teamed-up with Irie Ites – one the toughest and best production crews around. They have been working with Perfect Giddimani for a number of years and finally a full-length album has materialized.

This album is Perfect Giddimani’s best since Back For the First Time, released in 2011. And they are musically miles apart. Where Back For the First Time was soothing, breezy and beautiful roots, Reggae Farm Work is much of the opposite. It’s fierce, dark and uncompromising contemporary rub a dub with influences ranging from hip-hop to dubstep.

Perfect Giddimani tackles and rides a number of Irie Ites’ baddest riddims, including a devastating new version of their infectious Roots & Culture riddim and the dread hip-hop tinged S.T.F.U complete with strings and curse words.

The riddims – powered by a number of muscular musicians such as Errol “Flabba” Holt, Leroy Mafia, Fluxy and the late Style Scott – take no prisoners and Perfect Giddimani is as expressive as always with his highly unorthodox delivery.

A striking and innovative album that drops like a bomb.

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Eclectic EP from Yellam

yellam-getonboardFrench singjay Yellam – formerly Jr. Yellam – recently dropped a new EP as a taste of what’s to come on his second album The Musical Train, slated for release during the first quarter 2016.

Yellam has previously collaborated with French production crew Irie Ites, one of the best and most consistent production teams from Europe. On Get On Board they have produced four of the five tracks, including the massive Rub a Dub Anthem on their Diamonds riddim.

The EP showcases a variety of styles. Rub a Dub Anthem is tough vintage dancehall with clear influences from legendary producers like Linval Thompson and Henry “Junjo” Lawes, while the two exclusive tracks on the set – Step Up and Beggin’ – show a somewhat different approach. The former is up-tempo and dancehall flavored, while the latter is atmospheric with a hip-hop vibe.

Not included on the effort is the single Galong, which is in the same vein as Rub a Dub Anthem. I hope that Irie Ites have taken Yellam further in that direction, but the two new tracks clearly illustrate another path.


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Irie Ites celebrate 15th anniversary with new riddim

When French label and production crew Irie Ites celebrates 15 year anniversary they take the opportunity to release their 15th riddim, a riddim full of summer vibes.

Soulful Spirit is a modern hip-hop-influenced riddim based around a sample from an old soul song, also interpreted by Sharon Jones.

In a press release the riddim is described as dynamic and danceable, smooth as a summer breeze, perfect for summer nights and parties.

The riddim has been voiced by a bunch of great artists who have worked close to Irie Ites for many years, such as Perfect, Spectacular, Chezidek, Skarra Mucci and Sizzla. But several lesser known artists also grab the microphone, including Jr. Yellam, Sugar Kawar and Papa Style.

Soulful Spirit hits the streets in mid-June on 7 “via Irie Ites web shop and in mid-July as digital download via all major platforms.

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Swing and Diamond

untitledJust came across two fresh new riddims from European and U.S. producers.

From Italy and the U.S. come the Swing Heavy riddim. It’s a catchy one with classic horns and stems from a collabration between Bizzarri Records and Itation Records and features a number of strong voices – Lutan Fyah, Jah Sun and Kabaka Pyramid to mention a few.

The first cut on the Swing Heavy riddim was released already last year. It was the mighty Foundation, a joint tune from Kabaka Pyramid and Jah Sun. Check that tune or Skarra Mucci & Teacha Dee’s Forward Inna de Dance to get the picture. The latter is actually available as free download over at Soundcloud.

The other riddim comes out of France. Irie Ites is always reliable, and Diamond riddim is no exception. A sweet and shoulder rubbing one drop with vocals courtesy of Jr Yellam, Spectacular, General Levy, Solo Banton and Ras McBean, among a few more. It also features two dub versions mixed by Jericho.Diamond

Diamond riddim will be available digitally on February 17 via Reggaerecord.com. The vinyl release is the same day. But if you have a craving for iTunes you have to wait until March 15.

Check the riddim megamix on Soundcloud to crave your thirst.

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A decade of reggae greats from Irie Ites

album-various-artists-irie-ites-a-decade-of-reggae-musicFrench label and production house Irie Ites celebrate a ten year anniversary this year and part of the celebrations is a glorious compilation titled 2003/2013 A Decade of Reggae Music.

It collects 14 tracks on a broad variety of riddims and remixes, including Chezidek’s militant Bun Di Ganja on a relentless version of the Strange Things riddim, Ras Mac Bean and Morgan Heritage’s uplifting Lion is King, rock stone voiced dancehall deejay Bounty Killer’s Push Over on a version of the rock steady classic Stop That Train and Lutan Fyah’s catchy Take a Lick.

Irie Ites has together with labels and producers such as Heartical and Special Delivery put France on the reggae map. These three labels have put out some of the most consistent albums and riddims for the past ten years. And this compilation is together with Heartical Story Vol. 1 & 2 and Special Delivery’s The First Decade (2001 – 2011) a strong statement of the burgeoning and innovative French reggae scene.


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Tough combinations from Trinity on Eye To Eye

Cover Trinity Eye to Eye promoJamaican veteran deejay Trinity, aka Junior Brammer, rose to prominence in the mid 70’s with his Big Youth-infuenced style. With his Joe Gibbs produced smash Three Piece Suit, on the same riddim as Althea & Donna’s monster hit Uptown Top Ranking, he pioneered dancehall slackness. And from then on he released several albums, singles and combination albums.

And his brand new 14 track album Eye To Eye is yet another combination set. This time French production crew Irie Ites have – together with excellent riddim sections such as Mafia & Fluxy and Sly & Robbie – re-recorded and re-licked a number of well-known riddims and then having Trinity and the original vocalist riding the riddim in fine style.

The vocalists are some of the best ever and include Barrington Levy, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Cornell Campbell, John Holt, Beres Hammond and the list goes on in the same fine style.

Trinity is inspired and delivers his lyrics, interjections and catch phrases singing and deejaying.  The interplay between Trinity and the singers is impressive and it sounds like these may well have been the original versions.

Eye To Eye includes a few already released singles and is now available on CD and digital platforms.

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Lorenzo has grown on second album

King Lorenzo recently dropped his second album Stronger.

King Lorenzo

King Lorenzo aka Lorenzo did a huge combination with Ras Mac Bean on the latter’s debut album Pack Up And Leave in 2004. Several strong singles followed and in 2009 his much anticipated debut album Movin’ Ahead was released. The album was an intense roots effort produced by reliable French crew Irie Ites.

Since that album not much was heard from Lorenzo. Until November last year when his sophomore album Stronger was released on digital platforms worldwide.

I had a chat with Lorenzo about Stronger, his relationship with European producers and musicians as well as his friendship with veteran deejay U Brown. Check the full story over at United Reggae.

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The vibrating French reggae scene

France has established itself as one of the leading reggae countries. Producers such as Special Delivery, Irie Ites and Frenchie have put the country on the map and new producers and labels are popping up like mushrooms, both in France and in the French West Indies.

Reggae has been in Europe almost since the music’s inception in Jamaica some 50 years ago.

Britain was – and maybe still is – the leading European country for reggae music due to the large Jamaican population and that the island up until 1962 was a British colony. With many immigrants from the Caribbean, especially Jamaica, it was natural that the UK took reggae seriously.

But recently something has happened. According to me, the baton has been handed over to France. Or at least partly.

Serge Gainsbourg was a reggae pioneer
National idol Serge Gainsbourg is probably not widely known for his reggae productions. But he was a reggae pioneer and has meant a great deal to reggae in France, mainly for the general public.

In 1979 he dropped Aux armes et cætera, an album that partly meant a bigger breakthrough for reggae in the country. The album was recorded in Jamaica with musicians such as Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare and The I Threes. But what got the most attention was the title track, a sarcastic reggae version of the French national anthem La Marseillaise.

Serge Gainsbourg is probably not widely known to the reggae audience though.

Started with sound systems
Frenchie – French producer from Maximum Sound and nowadays based in London – says that the reggae scene in France really exploded in the mid 90’s. According to him, reggae has been in France since the beginning of the 80’s.

“The journey of the French reggae scene is interesting as it started really with the sound system movement and the toasters/deejays in the mid 80’s more on a ragga tip. Now it has gone very rootsy with a lot of reggae groups doing very well,” explains Frenchie, and continues:

“The first French reggae records I remember were Pablo Master’s En a en i en o, Mikey Mossman’s La Cocaine and Pupa Leslie with Ausswiss.”

Back then only a few labels were putting out Jamaican music and Blue Moon Records used to license material from Greensleeves in the late 80’s.

Regulations changed the game
But something changed. And it was due to new governmental regulations according to Frenchie.

“In the mid 90’s the government introduced quotas in France which obliged radio and TV to play 70 per cent French speaking music. That revolutionized the reggae scene as it was the gateway for record companies to sign all the DJ’s and singers who were on the sound system circuit,” says Frenchie.

Since then much has happened. Particularly in terms of producers and labels. These are the words of Pierre Bost, co-founder of Special Delivery Music.

“The French reggae scene is not really that big. There are several great producers, but less successful artists, in international terms. Local singers are not that recognized internationally and the producers are therefore mostly interested in Jamaican and other European artists,” he says.

Vibrating scene
The French scene differs from the rest of Europe. For example, many of the artists sing in French instead of English with a patois accent.

“France has probably the largest local scene in Europe and we were early with our own reggae artists such as Tonton David, Raggasonic and Pierpoljak,” says Sir Joe, founder of label and sound system Heartical.

Sir Joe points out that France, in addition to the UK, has been the best in European reggae since the late 70’s.

“The first sound system shows in France took place in 1979 with Lone Ranger on the mic. But it took another ten years before the sound system culture reached the rest of Europe. Since the 70’s we have also had regular yearly tours including artists like U Roy, Gladiators or Israel Vibration. There are many veterans who visit France,” says Sir Joe.

Sir Joe highlights the country’s demographics as a key reason behind the reggae interest.

“France has the largest African population in Europe and also a huge quantity of immigrants coming from the French West Indies and overseas territories. It is no surprise that reggae has been popular here for so long,” explains Sir Joe.

New found interest
In recent years the popularity of reggae has spread in France, notes both Pierre Bost and Frenchie.

“Since the mid-90’s, interest has spread from French Africans to the white audience. There is now a very mixed audience,” says Pierre Bost.

Frenchie says that that he started to see a lot of French labels producing Jamaican artists around the year 2000, and the whole European production thing outside of the UK really started from Germany with Pow Pow and Germaican records.

“I think a lot of people were doing specials for their sounds in France and from then started to produce records with the knowledge they learned from producing artists on dub plates,” explains Frenchie, and continues:

“Reggae has always been strong in France, especially roots music. Europe is one of the biggest markets for reggae and there is a void in the business today, as Jamaica is not producing the kind of reggae Europeans like so they have taken matters in there own hands and are producing what they love. And are doing well with it.”

Production crew Irie Ites also believes that the French people are mainly interested in roots, and that the scene has gained a lot from producers visiting Jamaica.

“Now that the French producers know the music business and the reggae scene most of them go to Jamaica regularly and learn a lot. Jamaica represents the roots, the essence of this music. It also gives a lot of inspiration when you are there,” says Jericho from Irie Ites.

Bashment gaining interest
The interest in different genres differs between audiences, according to Pierre Bost. One drop is the biggest, but dancehall and Jamaican bashment is on the rampage.

Frenchie has also noticed this segmentation, and says:

“There is a clear division in the market in France. The French West Indian population from Guadeloupe and Martinique really like dancehall and French people like roots music more.”

Pierre Bost fills in:

“The West Indian audience is mostly interested in hard dancehall. But there are not many French producers making this type of reggae today,”

“We mainly do one drop since it’s doesn’t feel like a fad. That music will stand the test of time.”


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Jah Soldier is a hidden gem

Some months ago I had some credits left on my eMusic account and didn’t really know what to do with them. I wandered the site and stumbled upon Jah Soldier by U.S. born singer Mighty Howard, whose name I recognized since I’m a big fan of the EP The Berlin Sessions released in January this year.

I downloaded the album and immediately forgot all about it. This happens to me all the time when I’m acquiring lots of mp3 files at the same time.

Some weeks ago I was looking through purchased albums, noticed Jah Soldier and gave it some space on my iPod. On my way to work the next day I was blown away.

When opening track Run From di Thunder blasted through my ears my workplace suddenly seemed very distant.

Mighty Howard’s pleading voice kept me company for the rest of the week.

On Jah Soldier Mighty Howard shows many sides of himself. But the album is mainly dark, dreamy and has an air of Lee Perry’s finest moments at times. This suits Mighty Howard’s fire and brimstone lyrics well. Producers Aldubb and Dubmatix have undeniably done a great work on these often hard and electronic riddims.

However, some tunes stand out of the darkness that embraces Jah Soldier. Rock the Night with its sing a long chorus and Home, an acoustic tune that could have been voiced by Jason Mraz.

One tune – the haunting Meditation – is accompanied by its dub counterpart. It’s sad that the dubs to Warrior Call, Mount Zion and Rock the Night aren’t included. These can instead be found on The Berlin Sessions.

Jah Soldier is Mighty Howard’s full length debut and has not been widely promoted. That’s a shame. Because Mighty Howard’s moving singing and conscious lyrics deserve to be heard.


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