June 22, 2019, marked the first Windrush Day on the anniversary of the HMT Empire Windrush bringing Caribbean migrants from Jamaica to Great Britain. Passengers on the first voyage to the “mother country” included a few notable people. Sam King—a Jamaican ex-serviceman and first black Mayor of Southwark—helped Claudia Jones organise Notting Hill Carnival, and Alwyn Roberts, the calypso legend from Trinidad (also known as Lord Kitchener) sang “London Is The Place For Me” upon arrival at Tilbury Docks, Essex, in 1948.
Of the reported 492 Caribbeans aboard Empire Windrush, more than half were from Jamaica with the rest mostly from Trinidad and Bermuda. Optimistic Caribbean migrants were met with unwarranted hostility and harassment from English men and women. White homeowners with “room to rent” signs in windows often refused blacks, the Irish, and people with dogs. Likewise, few nightclubs were available to black folk. As a result, the blues dance, or shebeens, were usually held in the basements of their homes, or “captured houses”/derelict houses. Despite all of this, the descendants of the Windrush Generation would go on to build legacies that would change this country forever.
Music played a pivotal role in reuniting the community on new shores. 50 years ago, Desmond Dekker’s “Israelites” became the first reggae song to enter the UK singles chart, at No. 9, and in the summer of ‘78, Althea & Donna’s “Uptown Top Ranking” was the first deejay song to reach number one. The deejay style, popularised by U-Roy and his chanting over riddims, had now crossed over. Other early adopters, such as Tapper Zukie and Dennis Alcapone (Stefflon Don’s uncle), soon relocated to the UK.
Tippa Irie is a Dancehall legend who built his success based on a solid foundation. He began with his Father’s sound named Musical Messiah, and went on to perform with King Tubby’s and Saxon Sound (for younger DJs readingthis email, performing live on a sound is not as easy as it appears; you mustbe the cream of the crop to earn that residence).
Performing live developed Tippa’s ear and the ability to know what lyrics and which riddims connect with audiences. When Tippa heard one of The Heatwave’s productions, he immediately reached out to Gabriel to arrange a recording on one of the groups riddims. The result is “Tun Ova!”
Released on The Heatwave’s own label, the single is being embraced in Europe and making its’ way across the Atlantic to fans who respect the voice and delivery of the great Tippa Irie!
To quote Kool Herc, ‘hip-hop and reggae are cousins’. I’m sure most people reading this are familiar with the origins of hip-hop. A young Jamaican expat who moved to New York with his family and wanted to recreate the sound systems he’d seen as a child in Jamaica in his new surroundings. The fact that those at the famous party in July 1973 reacted to the soul and funk records more than the reggae ones influenced hip-hop’s sound, but the connection with reggae and sound systems has always been there since the beginning. When it comes to the history of hip-hop, the two genres are intrinsically linked and I believe that it is in Britain where this explicitly becomes the case. Due to the colonial history between the two countries and the steady immigration from Jamaica during the twentieth century, the culture of the Caribbean island has gradually seeped into culture in the UK especially amongst younger generations. With second and third generation migrants there developed a need to find their own identity in Britain, the country they considered home. Over the course of the 1980’s for a number of youths this was played out in the progression from reggae to hip-hop, as hip-hop became the music for them to ‘document their own history’ (Back, 1996: 193) and helped to develop a hip-hop scene in London different from that in America. Hip-Hop in the UK has often, and unfairly so in my opinion, been derided as a cheap imitation of its American counterpart when it is this cross-cultural collaboration that has helped create music that is distinctly British in sound. The music’s hybridity has helped develop a number of styles utilising its aural sensibilities to create unique soundscapes. Consequently, reggae has a deep and strong connection to the hip-hop that grew out of London and has been vital as a means to voice identity politics in this multicultural city. As a result, reggae sound systems and the youths involved within them have had a lasting impact on the foundation and development of hip-hop in London during the 1980’s.
Or to put is another way, a love letter to two enigmatic Frenchmen of a certain age. L’Entourloop are a crew that emerged around 5 years ago, what they did before, who they are, or where they came from is not easy to divine. What little can be found says the main men go by the monikers of “Sir James” and “King Johnny”, what is also clear is they’ve attracted some guests of the highest quality and know all about the bass.“Dreader Than Dread” featuring Skarra Mucci dropped in 2013, excellent debut album “Chickens In Your Town” followed in 2015, including regular live collaborators N’Zeng and Troy Berkley and more, (such as Funkdub favourite LMK). They first came to our attention in 2017 when the writer stumbled across their second long player “Le Savoir Faire”. An absolute monster of an album, the best of that year, featuring a wider musical spectrum and an even bigger guest list including: Marina P, Tippa Irie, Rodney P, Soom T and Panda Dub. The sound of L’Entourloop is perhaps most simply described as Reggae Hip Hop, with flashes of jungle and drenched in an old school film soundtrack sensibility.
The second single by Reggae Roast on Trojan Reloaded.
London based sound system Reggae Roast continue their relationship with Trojan’s sister imprint Trojan Reloaded.
Their second single, following Murder by Charlie P and Brother Culture, features legendary South London emcee and entertainer Tippa Irie.
Real Reggae Music repositions the Sleng Teng bass-line to create a completely new dancehall/dub hybrid backing for Daddy Tip to extoll the virtues of the music he loves – praising the next generation in Jesse Royal.
The vocal comes with a flipside remix by Bristol UK bass producer DJ Madd.
In addition, the label’s past and future are set to come together with Reloaded second release, as Reggae Roast returns with Real Reggae Music featuring Tippa Irie on July 13, which will also be included in the upcoming Trojan Records 50th boxset due for release later this year.
Deekline and Tippa Irie are bringing the smooth grooves and ragga vibes in the place on their latest colab for Jungle Cakes.
Setting the perfect mood for the summer Deekline has laced this chilled out, tropical Jungle beat with Tippa’s infectious vocal. Calling up Voltage & Nicky Blackmarket for remix duties they’ve kept some of the Caribbean feel but added some down low dirt to the mix. And no Deekline release would be complete with out some garage for the house heads, bringing a little bit of the 90s warehouse feel to the release, a sub heavy sound that will cause some serious damage on the floor.
He was the young South London lad back in the 1980s when he took the leap of faith into the rising world of Reggae, and released the iconic “Hello Darling”. He’d already had some success after releasing singles on the Greensleeves label but it wasn’t until “Hello Darling” was released that his career took off in the right direction for him. He was received with open arms and Anthony Henry AKA Tippa Irie was born and in hot demand.
Since then he’s gone on to work with some of the most influential musicians in the World. From Alexander O’Neal to The Black Eyed Peas, his own influence can be heard on some of the most memorable tracks ever recorded. Most recently he’s worked with London Reggae band The Skints whose style is reminiscent of some of the 80s classic Reggae musings, and certainly fits well with Tippa’s style. His music is as relevant now as it was back where it all began.
I caught up with him ahead of his latest tour with the Lockdown Band which will see him hype the crowds of The Maze in Nottingham on Sunday 16 July.