Jamaican deejay Tippa Lee – currently based in the U.S – has collaborated with talented producer and mixing engineer Tom Chasteen, who is also running Dub Club in Los Angeles.
Now the pair has an album out on Stones Throw Records and it’s a bona fide killer with its tasty and excellent relicks of a number of immortal riddims, including a murderous cut of the lethal Drum Song riddim.
Cultural Ambassador and its dub version Dub Them With Reality are all about culture, consciousness and sound system skills. Tippa Lee started deejaying at the tender age of twelve and dropped his first single in the early 80s. He hasn’t been particularly prolific and this is actually his solo debut following combination sets with Rappa Robert and Toyan in the 80s and early 90s.
And when listening to this stunning set it’s a pity he hasn’t spent more time in the studio because he has a majestic flow and is also a gifted lyricist paying respect to his peers from the early days.
Judging by the artists joining Tippa Lee on this album it’s clear that he’s a force to be reckoned with. Cornell Campbell, Tony Tuff, Bionic Clarke and Sister Nancy all grace this album with their skills.
“Kill them with reality, a with reality, teach them reality… and all slackness deejay them have to run away” states Tippa Lee on the title track and that’s the essence of this set.
Cultural Ambassador (Deluxe Version) is currently available as digital download. It collects both albums mentioned above. A vinyl edition of Dub Them With Reality has also been released, while the vocal part will be put out on May 20.
U.S. reggae producer and mixing engineer Tom Chasteen has via his Dub Club project recently released his first one riddim album, where multiple of mostly veteran artists have brought their own flavour to a dubby and dark instrumental. Artists include Josey Wales, Tippa Irie, Trinity, Tippa Lee, Blackout JA, Ranking Joe and Cornell Campbell.
”UK legend Tippa Irie leads off with the title cut, name checking some dub warriors like Jah Shaka and Lee Perry in the process. Jamaican sound system veterans Trinity, Josey Wales, and Tippa Lee bring some rasta vibes on their respective turns, as the musical track is flipped a little different each time,” explains Tom Chasteen in a press release, and continues:
“Golden voiced singer Cornell Campbell starts side two with a message to all, followed by up and comer Blackout JA and his paean to Dancehall Everlasting. Up next is possibly the stand-out cut out on the record, transforming the deeply swinging instrumental into a percussive runaway train. Finally Ranking Joe adds his two cents to Cornell Campbell’s words of wisdom. We conclude with a clean instrumental for DJs and MCs to make their own.”
Meaning of Dub is yet another fine addition to Stones Throw Records’ growing reggae catalogue.
For a few years I have been a regular reader of U.S. music magazine Wax Poetics. But when I started to read this excellent publication I didn’t know half of the hip artists they wrote about. After watching the fascinating documentary Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton, about California-based underground label Stones Throw, I realized that several of the artists that I have been reading about – like Madlib, Dam-Funk, Mayer Hawthorne and the late J Dilla – were all based around the same label. You guessed it – Stones Throw Records.
The story about this independent label is an inspiring one and starts in 1996 when it’s founded by Chris Manak aka Peanut Butter Wolf. For about ten years it was largely a hip-hop label, but from around 2006 they went into a new direction and started to put out a plethora of genres, including rock, punk, soul and funk. Soul singer Aloe Blacc’s acclaimed Good Things, with its infectious single I Need a Dollar, is the best-selling album yet.
But selling records is not Peanut Butter Wolf’s primary focus. He goes beyond music and releases what he likes rather than what actually sells. Being commercial and successful comes second. Music and creativity come first. And that’s an honourable and admirable approach.
With lots of highly successful albums – of which several are hip-hop – Stones Throw has grown into an independent empire, much like punk label Epitaph. Today Peanut Butter Wolf does almost the same thing he did in 1996, but in a wider scale and in an industry that is completely transformed thanks to Internet and file sharing.
Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton is a moving and impressive story about a pioneer that has overcome several challenges – both personal and commercial. He has been fighting the unpredictable music industry and has also managed to make change over these 18 years.
Being anti-establishment and against the grain spark change and originality. That’s a fact after being overwhelmed by his story and energy. Unfortunately – for us reggae-heads – there is nothing on Stones Throw’s recent venture into reggae territory via excellent releases from Tom Chasteen’s Dub Club.
Dub Club’s Tom Chasteen has dubbed the hell out of The Lions’ excellent This Generation, a set released last year. He has twisted and turned the knobs and the remixed version has a brand new sound, where the bass has been turned up to the max and the percussion plays a more central part.
This Generation in Dub is not a fully accurate title though since album opener Picture on the Wall is a full-blown vocal cut, however in a new shape since Ranking Joe and Leroy Sibbles take turns on the microphone on this version. The other seven cuts are more or less straight dubs with lots of imaginative mixing.
The original album was beautifully arranged with stunning harmonies, tough bass lines and sweet horns, so Tom Chasteen had much to deconstruct and build up again, though with added echo and reverb.
The album title track has been dubbed beyond belief and has something of rock feeling to it now, while New Dub sounds like it has been sent to outer space and back. And not to mention Dub It Tonight. It’s razor sharp and sounds like two ninjas sword fighting.
Another nugget from Stones Throw Records, a label that now has several excellent reggae albums under their belt.