Tag Archives: Irie Ites

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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Reggaemani presents – A one drop hip-hop mix

Reggae and hip-hop have always had a symbiotic and close relationship. From the early days of Jamaican deejaying to today’s contemporary hip-hop scene.

DJ Kool Herc, one of the founding fathers of the hip-hop movement, was a Jamaican immigrant and wanted to have a sound system in the Bronx in the early 70’s. He built his own and brought a whole new culture to the world by doing so. The rest is as you say history.

My new mix is called One Drop Hip-Hop. As the name indicates the tunes brought together are reggae with a hip-hop vibe. The bass is loud and riddims are extraordinary pulsating.

There are many relicks here. For instance the Jah Children riddim and Billie Jean riddim. The former is a brilliant and very clever version on the None A Jah Jah Children riddim by Ras Michael & The Sons of Negus. The latter is a brand new version of the Billie Jean/Chim Cherry riddim, originally produced by Lee Perry, and made famous by American singjay Shinehead in the 80’s.

Other highlights includes the anthemic Rock the Spot from Ward 21 and the brutal Liberation Time by Capleton and rapper Noreaga. Be sure to take cover when this one blasts through your speakers. Noreaga’s fury delivery makes Capleton’s singjaying sound surprisingly serene.

As usual – One Drop Hip-Hop is a continuous mix with no full tracks and some added sound effects. If you like what you hear, please support the artists and labels and purchase the tunes. Most of them are easily available as mp3 or vinyl or CD.

Download by clicking the link (right click, save as). You can also listen and download on Soundcloud. Enjoy!

Reggaemani presents – A one drop hip-hop mix

Artist – song title (label – riddim)

1. Pressure – Ina Dancehall (Irie Ites – Strange Things)
2. Sena – Strange Days (Irie Ites – Strange Things)
3. Alborosie & Kymani Marley – Streets (Shengen)
4. Junior Kelly – Lots of Herb (Nowtime Sound – Jah Children)
5. Chezidek – Herbsman Rise Again (Nowtime Sound – Jah Children)
6. Moese Angel – Jah Jah Mission
7. Sizzla – Police Oppression (Irie Ites – Billie Jean)
8. Spectacular – Born in the Ghetto (Irie Ites – Billie Jean)
9. Ward 21 – Rock the Spot (Richvibes )
10. Sena – Work It (Ghetto Scorp – Eyes On My Purpose)
11. Lutan Fyah – Cut It (Ghetto Scorp – Eyes On My Purpose)
12. Nas & Damian Marley – Friends
13. Lutan Fyah & Spectacular – Kill Dem Sound (Irie Ites – Stop That Train)
14. Mr Benn & Blak Twang & Blackout JA – Long Time (Square One)
15. Mr Benn – Long Time Instrumental (Square One)
16. Capleton & Noreaga – Liberation Time (Kingstone – Cognition)


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Reggaemani presents a new reggae mix

So far 2010 seem like a pretty decent reggae year. I collected some of my favorite tunes on a roots mix presented in April. And now it’s time to drop a new continuous mix with some wicked tunes from producers around the globe.

Starting off in the U.S. with producers Philadub and three licks of their pulsating Repeat rhythm, and then moving over the Atlantic to the UK and producer Frenchie and his skankin’ version of the Creation Rebel rhythm, this one originally recorded by Bunny “Striker” Lee.

Next is another relick. Boops rhythm was originally produced by Winston Riley and provided the backing for Supercat’s hit song with the same name. This new version is produced by Shane C. Brown and I’ve used deejay cuts from Busy Signal and Chino as well as a straight singing version from Romain Virgo.

French crew Irie Ites is represented with two rhythms – Take A Lick and Party Time. The former is a fresh original with a nice xylophone and the latter is a re-cut of the classic Party Time rhythm from Studio One.

If you’ve been following reggae this summer you’ve probably stumbled upon the Major rhythm from Jamaican producer Don Corleon. There are eleven cuts of this rhythm and nearly all of them are above par. I’ve chosen Tarrus Riley and Wayne Marshall, but thought about including J Boog and Jah Vinci as well.

A Pleasant Roots Mix Vol. 1 consists of 16 tunes and some added sound effects. Most of the tracks are available as legal download or cd. If you like what you hear, please support the artists, producers and labels and buy them. I hope you enjoy these songs as much as I do.

Download here (right click, save as) or below.

Reggaemani presents – A Pleasant roots mix vol 1

Artist – song title (label – rhythm)

1. Lukie D – My Type (Philadub – Repeat)
2. Spectacular – Hotter Than Lava (Philadub – Repeat)
3. Lutan Fyah – Show Me Some Dub (Philadub – Repeat)
4. Johnny Clarke & Fantan Mojah – Rebel With A Cause (Maximum Sound – Rebellion 2010)
5. Tarrus Riley – Poverty Nuh Inna Fashion (Maximum Sound – Rebellion 2010)
6. Busy Signal – Government Gone Luu (Jukeboxx – Boops)
7. Chino – Phone Gallis (Jukeboxx – Boops)
8. Romain Virgo – Live Mi Life (Jukeboxx – Boops)
9. Sena – Heavens Gate (Irie Ites – Take A Lick)
10. Lutan Fyah – Take A Lick (Irie Ites – Take A Lick)
11. Mafia & Fluxy – Take A Lick version (Irie Ites – Take A Lick)
12. Tarrus Riley – Wildfire (Don Corleon – Major)
13. Wayne Marshall – Work Hard (Don Corleon – Major)
14. Leroy Sibbles – Party Time (Irie Ites – Party Time)
15. Natty King & Spectuclar – Sweet Jamaica (Irie Ites – Party Time)
16. Mafia & Fluxy – Party time version (Irie Ites – Party Time)

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Chezidek prefers European producers

Chezidek is one of the top reggae artists and has recently released the acclaimed album Judgement Time. After his concert at Swedish reggae festival Öland Roots, Reggaemani had a chat with him about his new album and the reggae scene of today.

Chezidek released his first album Harvest Time in 2002 and has since delivered several strong efforts. He has worked with producers from Jamaica, the U.S. and Europe.

He has a unique delivery and fragile voice that may not suit everyone. But he has managed to become one of the brightest stars among the new generation of cultural singers and is currently in the forefront of the international reggae scene.

Chezidek performing at Öland Roots. Photo by Anna Thunander

I meet him about 20 minutes after his performance at Öland Roots. He is noticeably calm and in a cheery mood where he’s sitting backstage with a spliff in his hand.

This is his third festival gig in Sweden. The first two were at the Uppsala Reggae Festival.

− I remember the first time I was in Sweden. It was in 2005 at the festival in Uppsala. A very special occasion. I sat on my knees on the stage praying and suddenly rain came streaming down, says Chezidek philosophically and takes a puff.

His last two albums were recorded in collaboration with European producers. At last year’s I Grade, he worked with Guillaume Bougard from France and on this year’s Judgement Time Dutch Not Easy At All Productions was behind the controls. Both records have been praised by critics around the world.

Judgement Time has very natural vibes. The producers have a clean energy and they really love the music. It’s not about money for them, Chezidek says and continues:

− It’s a deep roots album and it’s very special for me. Easy and natural.

He believes that his latest album is substantially different from its predecessors, especially Inna di Road from 2007.

Inna di Road was a serious album. I wanted to reach the people, to move and connect, he says and starts singing Dem A Fight We.

Chezidek has also made several notable songs with French production team Irie Ites, including Bun di Ganja and Mr. Officer, a duet with Lorenzo.

− Irie Ites take music back to the roots and they really love reggae. I’ve known them for a long time. I used to sing with Lorenzo when I met them in Jamaica in 2002. He followed them to Europe. I was supposed to come along, but stayed and recorded Harvest Time with producer Phillip “Fatis” Burrell, he says.

Chezidek explains that Europe has better vibes than Jamaica and that is why he works extensively with European producers. In Jamaica, he says, it’s all about dancehall and hip-hop rhythms.

− There is no reggae scene in Jamaica today. Everything revolves around money, money, money. The more expensive it is, the better. I sing about life and that type of music is not played on the radio or on sound systems. It’s like climbing a mountain backwards, he says, and continues:

− People want to hear the music, but no one plays it in Jamaica. It’s all about the negative sounds. Bad people claim the space and spread negative energy, while the good ones are in the dark.


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Somriga vibbar från Irie Ites

Redan i april kunde Reggaemani berätta att franska Irie Ites hade en ny rytm på gång. Och nu är datum bekräftat. Den 20 juni släpper fransoserna Party Time med sju somriga spår från kända namn som Leroy Sibbles, Sizzla och Glen Washington. Då är det 7” som gäller. Vill man ha cd eller legal nedladdning får man vänta till första september.

Party Time är, precis som titeln antyder, en relick på den klassiska 60-talsrytmen med samma namn. Då satt Coxsone Dodd i producentstolen. Även han jobbade med Leroy Sibbles, som sjöng in rytmens titellåt tillsammans med The Heptones kring 1968.

Irie Ites version ligger nära originalet. Basen är lite högre, men annars är 60-talskänslan intakt.

Ladda ner en kort mix av låtarna nedan som smarrig försmak:

Irie Ites Megamix Party Time

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Strictly Roots & Culture Mix – An Irie Ites Special

Det har varit mycket franskt på Reggaemani nyligen. Senast en artikel om den franska reggaescenen och innan dess en intervju med producenttrion Irie Ites, med bas i Le Mans ett par mil utanför Paris.

Och det röd/vit/blå fortsätter. Irie Ites är nämligen föremål för Reggaemanis nya mix Strictly Roots & Culture Mix – An Irie Ites Special.

Mixen innehåller 23 tunga låtar med elaka one drop rytmer, varav en också byggts om till hiphop-version.

Veteraner samsas med nykomlingar. Vad sägs om Louie Culture, Perfect och det ungerska stjärnskottet Sena, som för övrigt stod för förra årets bästa låt Outcry In The City. Det här är modern roots reggae när den är som allra bäst.

Precis som på den förra mixen är det inga fullständiga låtar. Gillar du något, så är låtarna lätta att hitta både på mp3 och cd. Vissa låtar finns också på 7″.

Ladda ner mixen här eller via länken nedan (högerklicka och spara som).

Strictly Roots & Culture Mix – An Irie Ites Special

Artist – låttitel (rytm)

1. Lorenzo & Chezidek – Mr. Officer (Roots & Culture)
2. Jericho – Mr. Dub Officer (Roots & Culture)
3. Lukie D – Laugh (Zion)
4. Turbulence – Rastafari Livity (Zion)
5. Mafia & Fluxy – Zion riddim (Zion)
6. Chezidek – Powers of the Lion (Borderline)
7. Lutan Fyah – Bun Dem (Borderline)
8. Lorenzo – Trod in the Valley (Borderline)
9. Mafia & Fluxy – Borderline riddim (Borderline)
10. Ras McBean – We Never Tell Dem (Down In Jamaica)
11. Perfect – Light This Joint (Down In Jamaica)
12. Mafia, Fluxy & Dean Fraser – Down In Jamaica riddim (Down In Jamaica)
13. Sena – Rebel Woman (Only Solution)
14. Suga Roy & Conrad Crystal – Nuff Time (Only Solution)
15. Calvin So So Francis – Only Solution Dubwise (Only Solution)
16. Sizzla – Sow More Love (Rocking Time)
17. Louie Culture & Malijah – Hills Farmer (Rocking Time)
18. Gussie P – Rocking Time Dubwise (Rocking Time)
19. Chezidek – Bun Di Ganja (Strange Things)
20. Sena & Ras McBean – Travelling So (Strange Things)
21. Calvin So So Francis – Strange Dub (Strange Things)
22. Sena – Strange Days (Strange Things Hiphop)
23. Pressure, Spectacular, Cali P, Keefaz & Don Pako (Flex Remix) – In the Clash Tonight (Strange Things Hiphop)


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