Tag Archives: Tippa Irie

Scary good from Horseman

Horseman - Dawn of the Dread - ArtworkThis year has so far been graced by remarkably strong dancehall albums, and Popcaan and Jah Vinci’s debut albums are two prime examples. Horseman’s recently released debut is another. These three albums are something completely different compared to all the generic and poorly mastered dancehall sets that are regularly put out.

Horseman is a veteran on the UK reggae scene and has spent about three decades working largely behind the scenes, often as a very capable and well-respected drummer. He has over the past few years made solid guest appearances on several productions coming from Prince Fatty.

And Prince Fatty is also responsible for production and mixing on Horseman’s debut album Dawn of the Dread. This album sees Prince Fatty taking a new direction. It’s still vintage sounding though, but not vintage as in 60s and 70s. No, Dawn of the Dread is primarily rooted in the mid to late 80s dancehall scene. Bouncing bass lines, playful drums and lively synths make this twelve track set a joyous and fun excursion, an excursion on which Horseman and Prince Fatty have invited Tippa Irie, Winston Reedy and Earl Sixteen.

I’ve actually been longing for a full album from Horseman ever since I heard Prince Fatty’s excellent album Supersize four years ago. And this album was well worth the wait.

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Lovers rock is about looking for love and losing love

Even though a romantic and soft side of reggae has been heard ever since the late 60’s with artists such as Delroy Wilson, John Holt and Ken Boothe, it wasn’t until the mid to late 70’s it became a genre in its own right.

Lovers rock heralds from the UK and evolved as an alternative to the political and militant roots music dominating the 70’s. Lovers rock is not particularly well-suited for riots or uprisings, but rather for late night dances and intimate moments between silky sheets.

Songs like Janet Kay’s Silly Games, Louisa Mark’s cover of Bobby Parker’s Caught You in a Lie or Brown Sugar’s I’m in Love With a Dreadlocks helped to make the genre popular and are today regarded as classics.

Menelik Shabazz’s documentary The Story of Lover’s Rock tells the story of a hostile environment characterized by discrimination. It’s a story about escaping the harsh reality and the search for identity in a divided British society marked by racism. But also about thirsting for love and losing love.

Maxi Priest, Janet Kay, Kofi, the late Jean Adebambo, Winsome and Tippa Irie are just a small portion of artists interviewed. And they are telling stories of where the genre came from, the people behind it and what it has meant to generations of musicians and listeners. They also cover other aspects, such as its future, how it gave women a voice and how it has travelled from the UK to Japan and Brazil.

The many stories are also told through dance moves and music and vivid comedy performances.

Menelik Shabazz has made a thorough exercise in music history. It’s obvious that he has great love of the music and its culture, which might have contributed to making the film unfocused at times. There are too many subjects, too many stories to be told.

But as a lover of music in general and reggae music in particular, you can’t but sit down, relax and enjoy the tale of one of Britain’s finest export products.

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Joey Fever is rooted in the 80’s

Joey Fever is one of Sweden’s fastest rising reggae stars. He has worked with both domestic producers and producers from abroad. Now he is set to drop his eagerly anticipated debut album In A Fever. Reggaemani has met him to talk about his work.

I meet Joey Fever outside the subway entrance on a crowded street in the city area of Södermalm. We are heading to the Panic Room studio, a studio that is just a stone throw away from our meeting spot.

Joey Fever is one of Sweden's fastest rising reggae stars.

He is dressed in jeans, jeans shirt and his very recognizable hat. He looks just like the scurrilous portrait of someone living in Södermalm (which he does), a part of Stockholm that was previously a working class neighborhood, but is nowadays occupied by trendy musicians, artists and people working in advertising.

It is a flourish way down to the studio. Long dark walkways, stairs and narrow nooks. When we have entered the studio Joey Fever sits down in a sofa with a big jug of coffee.

The studio is mostly used by a bunch of Swedish drum & bass producers, and Joey has rented studio time for the last couple of months. He is often here to voice riddims, and one of the latest is a relick of the classic Answer riddim, originally produced by Coxsone Dodd. Behind the new version is German producers Germaica.

Broad new album
His new album – In A Fever – is not recorded here though. It was mostly recorded in producer Mastah L’s home studio.

“Mastah L has produced most of Governor Andy’s stuff. He also produced Million Stylez’s Miss Fatty,” says Joey,

The new album boosts 16 tunes, where of eleven are produced by Mastah L. The other songs are produced by Viktorious from Sweden, Silly Walks from Germany, Weedy G Soundforce from Switzerland and Fresharda and Lockdown from the UK.

“We started recording about a year ago. But I have worked on it for about one and a half year.”

The album has been delayed several times. Joey explains that when you do this on a small scale it is hard to have everything done in time.

“The material was finished some time ago, but you have the mastering, studio time, graphic design and different wills,” he explains.

Worked with Curtis Lynch
UK-based producer Curtis Lynch did a wicked combination with Million Stylez and Joey Fever in 2009. That tune is not included on the album, nor is any other tunes produced by him.

“He is a wicked producer and we have talked about working together, but nothing new has been recorded,” says Joey.

Joey adds that Young Gunz had some impact on his career, but that he had a following previously, partly due to Sweetness.

Music is a part of life
But his career did not start with Sweetness. Joey says that music has always been a natural part of life, since his relatives on his mother’s side are almost all musicians. His brother – Junior Tan – is also a singer and has started to make a name for himself.

“I used to sing as a kid and both my uncles are reggae musicians,” he says, and continues:

“I fell in love with reggae in the 90’s and in high school I used to deejay with some sounds in clubs. And it was not all reggae.”

In the early 2000 he was in the group Collision for four years. He was front man and singer in this eight piece outfit that recorded some demo tapes.

“It was a bit unwieldy, so I left around 2005 and started to voice some riddims. The first big one was Youth Dem Rise on the Majestic riddim.”

Release on Lockdown
In A Fever is a broad album and spans from one drop reggae and early dancehall to the sounds of contemporary Jamaica.

“I think it is modern. It is modern roots and one drop with a dancehall touch,” he says.

In A Fever hit the streets on May 10.

It will be released on Tippa Irie’s label Lockdown, a subsidiary to major label BMG.

“Lockdown contacted me about two years ago and they were interested in working together.”

Rooted in the 80’s
Joey has just got back from some shows in Germany and is obviously tired. He is keen to play some of the songs from the album, but does not get the technology right. He calls some friends and after a while we are listening to a recut of the Tonight riddim.

When Joey Fever sings his voice is similar to Jah Cure. But Joey Fever is a talented deejay as well.

“I am inspired by Barrington [Levy], Michael Rose, Junior Reid and Cocoa Tea. But also Shabba [Ranks], Supercat and Tippa Irie,” he explains, and continues:

“I was born in 1981, so I have listened a lot to Chaka Demus and I also love to play with lyrics as the British deejays did.”

The album sounds very much like 80’s reggae done with a modern touch. And it spans from the early bouncy rub a dub to the sweeter sounds that were made popular by Augustus “Gussie” Clarke later in the decade. It is easy accessible and with some hit potential.

“I am pleased as hell with the album. It shows where I am musically and it represents me,” he concludes.

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Several new releases from Curtis Lynch

UK-based producer Curtis Lynch has managed to release a bunch of releases already in the new year. Started on January 11 with Chantelle Ernandez and her nice lovers rock EP My Forever and continuing with a relick of one of the most versioned riddims ever – Pass the Kutchie, originally titled Full Up and recorded at Studio One. It features vocals from the Mighty Diamonds, Yellowman, Mr. Williamz, Tippa Irie, Kasi and Franz Job.

But that’s not all. The Necessary Mayhem camp has also managed to put out the first release in their “Company Policy” series. It’s a 12” release (also available as legal download) with one side from the late Dennis Brown and the other from ex-Aswad singer Brinsley Forde.

The tunes are not on the same riddim though. The Dennis Brown cut is a version of his Deceiving Girl produced by Augustus “Gussie” Clarke in the early 80’s, and included on the Judge Not album with the late Gregory Isaacs. Brinsley Forde rides a relick of another Gussie Clarke production – the mighty Rumours riddim. Both tunes are served with its dub version.

Curtis Lynch is a reliable source for great reggae music and with these new releases you can expect the usual – ear blowing heavy bass lines, electronica influences and added sound effects.

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UK Bubblers will nice up the dance

In the early 80’s something interesting started to develop on the UK reggae scene. UK reggae acts such as Steel Pulse and Aswad were suddenly challenged by a new wave of reggae artists. These were young and hungry youths from London, Bristol and Birmingham.

In No No Way Daddy Rusty states “I’m an MC, don’t call me deejay”. This is significant for the new Greensleeves compilation Nice Up the Dance – UK Bubblers 1984 – 87, that consists of tunes released on the UK Bubblers imprint. These youths wanted to create something new, something that not merely copied their Jamaican counterparts.

And it was around UK Bubblers and the legendary British sound system Saxon that the fast chatting style was developed.

This compilation collects 36 tunes from both known and unknown artists. Among the former are the late Deborahe Glasgow, Pato Banton and Tippa Irie, who is represented by nine tracks. And his takes are some of the many highlights, for example his combination with Daddy Colonel and the fast chatting All the Time the Lyrical A Rhyme, a version of the Real Rock rhythm.

The lyrics are humorous and at times paint a picture of Margaret Thatcher’s England. The rhyming is inventive and sometimes a bit cheesy, as in Sparky Dean’s Satisfaction Guaranteed – “For some to be a Bubbler the price may be dear, for you to check the mic you must have no fear”. But that doesn’t matter when you have a great flow and some devastating hard rhythms.

Nice Up the Dance – UK Bubblers 1984 – 87 is also a great way to explore the scene’s evolvement. You can easy follow how the sound is developing from 1984 up until 1987. It’s rougher in the beginning and smoother and more polished later on.

This compilation is a must have for any music lover or dancehall aficionado. I strongly recommend you to buy the cd, as the sleeve contains very readable excerpts from magazines of the period when the all this was happening.

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Tippa Irie should stick to his roots

UK reggae has always appealed to me. From the early days of Dandy in the 60’s and the heavy roots in 70’s to the fast chatters of the 80’s. Nowadays UK reggae is represented by steppers and the sweet sounds of Gappy Ranks.

One of UK dancehall deejay pioneers is Tippa Irie, probably best known for 80’s classics Hello Darling and the amusing Complain Neighbour.

He has continued to record in the 90’s and 00’s and has also gained success in the hip-hop market with Charli2na from Jurassic 5.

If I’ve done my math right, Tippa Irie’s new album Stick To My Roots is his sixteenth. Three years has passed since the jam-packed Talk the Truth.

Stick To My Roots is done in collaboration with Germany’s Far East Band and is labelled as his best work in 25 years.

I have been looking forward to this new effort since Tippa Irie has dropped some nice work recently – Tippa On Da Mic on Curtis Lynch’s Come Down rhythm and Bad Boy, based on Inner Circle’s soundtrack to TV-series Cops.

And Stick To My Roots is not a bad album at all. Even though I had preferred more deejaying rather than singing. I’m a big fan of the fast chatting style and Tippa Irie has always had a wicked flow.

Stick To My Roots is versatile and conscious. The majority of songs are culturally themed, such as the title track and Only Jah Jah. The closing track – Helping Hand – seems inspired by Twinkle Brothers Jahovia and Deh Side Me revitalizes Rudy Mills early reggae tune John Jones with good results.

There is however some strange dance tracks included. Those seem out of context and might have been a good idea in the studio. The keyboard in One of Those Days sound like early 90’s Snap! and Wine It could have been recorded by the new generation of Jamaican dancehall producers.

If Stick To My Roots would have stuck to Tippa Irie’s roots it would probably have been even better.

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