Up again. I think we've done at least a respectable job in our return on these pages, but while we were away there were definitely some changes that occurred and are, seemingly, here to stay. Some things have changed for the better in terms of the general experience of listening to music -- music, in general, has never ever been more accessible than it is now -- and others have changed for the worse in my opinion, but that change has been widespread and much of it is still in transition. Along with the expected and appreciated new faces (both artists and those behind the scenes), there's also been a direct musical shift in Reggae music to my ears. As I've said, while it has been in 'development' over the past decade or so, what we now regard as Dancehall music is something that I don't recognize at all under the genre. For me, much of it is Hip-Hop music done with Caribbean artists. The addictive Dancehall BOUNCE is largely a thing of the past, save for rare occasions in the hand of an increasingly selected (but wholly CELEBRATED by me) group of producers. Taking that a step further, there were a couple of individuals, veteran Dancehall artist Red Rat and producer NotNice who openly spoke on the nature of the change of the Dancehall in particular as far as, not only the sound being different, but the fact that a great deal of the genre is done in single songs. You virtually never see that one, potent, big riddim jump up anymore because very few people do them anymore and many of the younger artists won't touch them anyway. That makes me... SAD. I can't even put it better than that. I'm saddened by that change, coming from an era not too long ago where it was a chore to keep up with even the biggest riddims (going to call that the 'Riddim Driven Era'). Fortunately, Dancehall seems to be the only genre with that situation, in full. While I will say that Roots music (and even Soca, actually. More on Soca shortly) probably has not produced the same amount of big riddims in recent times than maybe a decade or so ago, the sound itself, THANKFULLY, has largely remained the same. Aside from, again, being placed in the hands of a larger variety of newer names in some cases, much of the foundation that was laid in the generation of people such as Marley and Tosh is still intact in 2022 but.... DAMN I have to say that I kind of miss the excitement of the moment of hearing a genuinely big riddim and then what follows in wondering exactly who else the producer has turned it over to. I can recall having full arguments with more casual heads and non fans of the genre who referred to the practice of having multiple vocalists taking on the same one track and they as lazy or a demonstration of a lack of creativity, but we grew up on it and, to this day, even the PROSPECTS of a truly impressive and well supported big riddim will definitely get my attentions.
I cannot possibly be the only one who feels that way. Even if I am, amongst fans, clearly the labels have something else in mind and if we were to rewind the clock back a few years ago to when we were very active (I used to WRITE MY ASS OFF on these things!) and even before that actually, and definitely one of the most impressive and CONSISTENT of outfits making big Roots riddims and remakes was one Irie Ites Records from out of France. Even before we get into their tracks, I can sit here and think of full blown albums for artists that II has done throughout the years that have stuck with me from the likes of King Lorenzo, the great Mark Wonder and, going wayyy back, Ras Mac Bean ("Pack Up & Leave", big underrated, under-known gem of an album), but despite working with names like those and even the likes of King Kong and Perfect Giddimani (more on him later), the label is probably best known still for dropping a very impressive string of big riddims. With a history dating back to the early 2000's, nearly two decades in, despite all that has surely changed around them, it appears as if things're as they normally are at Irie Ites.... and that is a great thing.