As I enter the studio Tippa is sitting behind his desk tapping away on his computer, he welcomes me with a big handshake and he makes me feel at home.
The first thing that struck me was the impressive array of awards and disks hanging on the wall, which shows his achievements of his hard work and dedication to the reggae industry over the past decades.
Q: How did the Mc name Tippa Irie come about?
Tippa was my nickname from school and Irie means feeling good so I put the two of them together and made Tippa Irie because my main aim in music was to make people feel good when they came to see me perform.
Q: Tippa I remember you back in the 80’s when you was a Mc for Saxon sound system and known as one of the top mc’s in the local community can you elaborate on this and give me the history of your early days?
I started my career on my dads sound system Musical Massiah, I grew up listening to U Roy, Big Youth, Tappa Zukie and wanted to be just like them, so I used to practice on my dads sound system and one day my cousin Gary heard me and said I must go to a King Tubby dance and perform so they could hear me.
After they heard me, they invited me to be a member of the sound system so I traveled round the country with them learning my trade. I started to enter a lot of talent contests and win them and I got spotted by Sir lloyd and he asked me to make my first tune which was called The Opposite which was on the B side of a tune called My Valentine by Toakes On the LGR record label. I just wanted to further my career in any way I could I went along. Plus King Tubbys were only paying me £3 and Saxon offered me £10.
When I went around Saxon, that’s where I met Maxi Priest, Papa Levi, Daddy Colonel and Peter King and I started to travel all over the country with them. I also brought Daddy Rusty from Brixton with me as my apprentice and he linked up with Daddy Sandy and Jnr Sandy and my sister Miss Irie. The cassettes started to circulate everywhere and record labels became interested in us. I got signed to Greensleeves Records and my first release was ‘Just A Speak’ with Daddy Colonel. Then after that single I released my first solo album ‘Is It Really Happening to Me’.
Q: Name a few artists that you listened to in your early days that gave you musical inspiration.
Well my favorite DJ of all time is Professor Nuts, U Roy, Papa San, Brigadier Jerry, Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Steel Pulse, Macka B, Lone Ranger and Johnny Ringo.
Q: Your sister I understand was an artist is there anything or a tribute you would like to mention?
We used to sit and write lyrics together and I used to love to watch her perform the lyrics that I wrote for her, it made me feel very proud. We love and miss her dearly and she is always in our hearts and she would be very happy to see how her kids have grown up to be hard working and very respectful people. R.I.P Miss Irie. I wrote an album in her honor and the album was called ‘I Miss’ and I really do.
Q: Hey Mama song with black eyed peas how did it come about?
I was on tour in the USA and I got a phone call from an agent called Shelley Roots…she told me that the BEP’s wanted to record a song with me so I went to their studio in LA and they played me the track
Hey Mama and left the gaps that they wanted me to fill. I took it away and lived with it for a night and went back the next day and recorded my vocals and they loved it and so it made the album ‘Elephunk.
Q: What are you up to at the moment?
I have a new album coming out called Stick To My Roots on my label Lockdown Productions it will be out on 10th June 2010. It’s my best to date and I’m looking forward to the release. I have also have a compilation album coming out called UK Flu which features Maxi Priest, J C Lodge, Tippa Irie, Black Blunt, Nereus Joseph, Nadirah X, J Sol, Gia Ray, Joey Fever, Tad Hunter, Colour T, Dan I, Donna Marie, Anetta Gordon, J B Baker, Mikel X and more.