Various – Asap Riddim

by Jul 6, 2022Reviews, Various

Asap Riddim

Release Info

Irie Ites Records
Street date
June 17, 2022
Website Label

01. Anthony B – Raggamuffin
02. Brother Culture – Build Up A House
03. Chezidek – The Game
04. Jah Defender – Redder Than Red
05. Jah Mason – Mother Earth
06. Lyricson – Wicked Heart
07. Beenie Man, King Kong & Nuttea – Dangerous
08. Spectacular & Perfect Giddimani – A.S.A.P
09. Queen Omega – Tunder Storm
10. Tomawok, Keefaz & Puppa Nadem – Calme Avant La Tempête
11. Irie Ites – ASAP Riddim
FLASHES!: A review of the ASAP Riddim

One of the most impressive and CONSISTENT of outfits making big Roots riddims and remakes is 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 Irie Ites Records 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.

A quick look back at the vault of riddims produced by Irie Ites shows reveals some STELLAR releases. Largely working with the legendary UK duo, Mafia & Fluxy, Irie Ites Records has delivered farrrrrrrr more than their fair share of big tracks over the years. Standouts have included the Borderline [“It’s time fi reach di borderline! No need fi hesitate, cause I don’t really wanna be late!”], Zion [“Mi haffi hail di King, King! A pure love man ah bring, bring!”], Only Solution [“Only my Jah can save the world”], the Strange Things and several others… I could really go on and on (the Rocking Time!) (HUGE underrated song on the Rocking Time that never got its push, Who I Am by Chezidek.

They put together an outstanding catalogue of music and, if you’ve been a consistent fan of the genre from the turn of the century of so, chances are quite high that you’ve ran into the works of Irie Ites in one way or another whether you’ve realize it or not. If you haven’t perhaps 2022 is a good time to become more officially acquainted with the work of the label. Just late last year, Irie Ites would curiously re-release the aforementioned Zion Riddim and now they are back with a set we have very much been looking forward to over the past month or, the ASAP Riddim (….seriously, that Chezidek tune on the Rocking Time Riddim is RIDICULOUS! CANNOT stop listening to it). Over the past few weeks or so, Irie Ites has sloooooowly crawled out the riddim, bit by bit, leading now into the full release. On one hand, it was frustrating as hell becuase not only were they peeling off big tunes, but they’d also established a roster of who had voiced the ASAP so, I don’t know about you, but I had a running list of what I was looking forward to hearing most and we just had to wait! Dammit! Well the wait is now over as the ASAP Riddim was released, in full on the seventeenth of June and it has me thinking of old times. Not only is Irie Ites Records known for churning out quality material, but they also, CLEARLY, put a lot of effort in marketing and publicizing their work.

Riddim albums and compilations, in general, for the most part just aren’t going to receive as much attention as projects from single artists (if they did, can you imagine how much money VP Records and Greensleeves may’ve spent (and MADE) back in ‘da day when their respective overactive series were at their peaks???), but apparently no one ever told Irie Ites as they go all in on putting their projects together and then bringing great notoriety to them. The ASAP may be one of the finest in that regards as, like I said, quite a few people have spent quite a while waiting on it and, though the competition isn’t great these days, one could well make the case that it is IMMEDIATELY one of the biggest riddim albums/Reggae compilations of the year thus far. That’s even before you dig into the music and once you do, you’ll soon come to see that notoriety isn’t the only thing that the ASAP has in common with many of its older siblings. It’s been awhile (and I don’t feel like looking it up to see exactly how long it’s been) but, once again, Irie Ites shows themselves to be amongst the very best when it comes to dropping a TRULY big riddim.

As I said, one of the most fascinating aspects of any riddim is just who the label has assembled in terms of vocal talents for it. Any outfit with any length of tenure has already shown that they have favourites, and Irie Ites is no different. The mix of artists on the ASAP is interesting because, although they do bring in a few ultra familiar names with whom they have previously worked, there’s only REALLY a pair of names that I (PERSONALLY) most associate with Irie Ites present here. So it definitely has its surprises. On top of that, previously, as I mentioned, while much of Irie Ites Records’s work was done with Mafia & Fluxy, for their latest offering they have teamed up with French band, The Ligerians – best known by me for having been behind an album from a couple of years ago, Timeless, which… I really need to review, because it was excellent, by someone who I’ve already told you about and will do so again, briefly.

As it gets started, Irie Ites Records’ latest creation, the ASAP Riddim puts one of its best feet forward (WHAT?!) in the form of Raggamuffin by Anthony B (I was about to call it “previous single” out of habit, but… damn near every song here is technically a previous single). This tune, I’ve been on for the better part of a month and a half or so and I’m convinced that it was a vibe, at least to some degree. It does have kind of a loose direction, but Raggamuffin also goes in so many other areas and does so quickly, that I just get the feeling that Anthony B heard the ASAP and constructed this wonderful and FUN tune around what he heard. The results are, easily, amongst the biggest winners here and should you think it was THE biggest song, well that’s an easy opinion for you to backup because it’s outstanding.

UK veteran Brother Culture is always working hard and this time it is his intent to Build up a House, courtesy of the ASAP Riddim. This one kind of surprised me a bit because I listened through it a couple of times and just enjoyed its old school Dancehall appeal (which is just Brother Culture’s style) before I really began to tune it in and when I did, what I found was a rather clever repatriation tune.

Build up a house, Jah mek mi build a house
Build up a house, build up a African house
Build up a house, Jah mek mi build a house
Build up a house, build up a rootsman house

Cah first thing mi do, mi set di foundation
Then mi fill it up with concrete, mek mi house stand strong
And next thing mi do, mi go an fell timber
Then mi use good timber to plan di structure
Then mi go and hire cement mixer-
And a contractor and two labourer
Mi build up mi room dem one-by-one
Then mi roof it make out of corrugated iron
Round back yah fi mi house mi woulda build a goat pen
Keep one dozen goats and a hundred chickens
Di house yah weh mi build is gonna in Africa
In di front room mi want a air-conditioner
Wi waan some lawyer, construction worker
Wi want some doctor and hard worker

BOOM! Culture has it all worked out and he brings it through in such a delightfully SIMPLE way that you find yourself wondering… yeah, why can’t we do this???! Brother Culture’s is certainly a name we’ve run into over the years and he’s almost always impressed, but it hasn’t been consistent on our end (because he’s definitely been active) and, hearing him here, I’m very exciting on the prospects of seeing exactly what I’ve been missing out on; and I suspect I won’t be the only one thinking that after hearing Build up a House (a situation which isn’t rare on these type of sets, actually).

And rounding out the opening of the ASAP Riddim is a tune which I was well looking forward to hearing and is one, I think, that they saved for the album’s release date as the mighty Chezidek blesses us with The Game. Chezidek is not only one of the two artists appearing on the ASAP who I most associate with Irie Ites (of the ones I just listed, he voiced all of them; the Zion, Borderline, Rocking Time, Strange Things and Only Solution riddims, respectively), but his album was Timeless with The Ligerians, so there’s an IMMENSE amount of chemistry at play here and you can hear it. Chezidek, for me, has been one of the genre’s finest and most reliable stars over the past decade or so and his effort on the ASAP sees him rolling right along at a typically very high level.

Said it’s all in the game
There’s no loss, there’s no gain
Sometimes laugh, sometimes cry, joy and pain
Said it’s all in the game
Take it all, don’t complain
Whether dry, low or high, is the same

Hello, hello this is the show
You must be up and ready to go
No time to practice, you should know
Action-time, just let it flow
Oh yeah, we do it because we love
And we do it because we trust
And we looking up above
Cause we rising from the dust
And the children coming after, there’s a duty here for us
Let us shine the light more brighter
No more searching for no answers
It is in the wind that blow
Cause the mission already started
Pushing forward, space to grow

Said it’s all in the game
There’s no loss, there’s no gain
Sometimes laugh, sometimes cry, joy and pain
Said it’s all in the game
Take it all, don’t complain
Whether dry, low or high, is the same

Every drip and every drop
Gi dem everything we got
Every thing we got, every-everything we got
When wi ah win dem haffi clap
Wi haffi beat dem like a bat
Every inning some a dem ah nyam dem like a snack

DAMN Chezidek! DAMN! As I said, when you get into it, the Irie Ites have assembled some truly impressive vocalists to go on the ASAP Riddim and one of them will even leap out at the most casual of Reggae fans as a tune called Dangerous brings together French veteran Nuttea and the great King Kong with Dancehall legend Beenie Man! I’m not going to look it up, I’m just going to assume that, at some point, Nuttea has crossed paths with Irie Ites Records and in 2018, King Kong would send a full album, Repatriation, through Irie Ites, but I can’t at all recall Beenie Man working with Irie Ites Records and to see his name here came as a very pleasant jolt. All three turn in fine performances and i found myself thinking while listening to it just how nice the vibes on Dangerous are. It is somewhat disjointed, there isn’t much back-and-forth between the three (I would presume they all voiced their pieces separately of one another), but when you stick them altogether it makes for a very big song and, again, IT’S BEENIE MAN ON AN IRIE ITES RIDDIM!!
While I may have been shocked to see the link on Dangerous, the tune following it was the most expected of the entire lot. In 2016, Perfect Giddimani and Irie Ites did an album by the name of Reggae Farm Work and appearing on that release was A.S.A.P., a combination featuring loooooongtime Irie Ites staple, Spectacular. That would have been the first time anyone laid ears on the ASAP Riddim to my knowledge and this appears to be a re-recorded (or at least remastered) and just BETTER version of the tune. Both Perfect and Spectacular have fiery and unpredictable styles so you can’t don’t really know what to expect on a combination between the two, but this one worked well for me PROBABLY because of the nature of the subject here. If you wanted to infuse a sense of urgency in your listener, you could do FAR worse than bringing together these two and, by song’s end, it is crystal clear that there are some serious changes that need to take place in the world.
And speaking of urgency: There’s the matter of a MAMMOTH Thunder Storm brewing in southern Trinidad and headed towards the entire world (no one is safe! Do not run! There is nowhere to run to!), being released by the great Queen Omega. If you didn’t receive the full word on A.S.A.P. (you may want to get your hearing checked out), the Queen will definitely let you in on precisely how critical things have gotten. This one finds her in a stunning lyrical form and, although I am damn partial and I admit it, Thunder Storm is my single favourite track on the whole of the ASAP Riddim and that’s saying something big because, along with what we’ve already discussed, there’re some exceptional tunes still to be heard here.

A fine example of that would be a piece that I’ve enjoyed from the very first time I listened to it about three or four weeks ago now, but has grown on me even more since then, Jah Mason’s splendidly GREEN Mother Earth. You can take the tunes about social and political consciousness and even self awareness and spirituality — running immortal themes in Roots Reggae music — and they are all poignant, important and crucial if we’re to make a change in the world, but if we do not treat the world, ITSELF, good – well then we won’t even arrive at the point where we’re capable of having the discussion of how well we treat one another, because there will be no “one another”. We need a rock to live on first. The Mason is sick, literally, in seeing how things are going ecologically and he’s going to tell you about it and THRILL at the same time.

Look what dem doing to Mother Earth
You know, mi just caan stand it
Pollution inna di earth and dem ah destroy di planet
Doing to Mother Earth
You know, mi just caan stand it

The earth is sensitive, so earth is life
No litter di street, it better ah sweep
That’s a good sight
Di drastic plastic ah black out di pipe
Lotta garbage mek di day turn night
When you dump inna di sea a dat di fish dem ah bite
Let’s keep di earth clean
Mother Earth can smile for di loving children and child

Look what dem doing to Mother Earth
You know, mi just caan stand it
Pollution inna di earth and dem ah destroy di planet
Doing to Mother Earth
You know, mi just caan stand it

Let’s work together
Mi seh ‘YES’ from now on
Recycling – dat a di latest vision
Every individual know your mission
Pollution every time when mi ah watch di television
So pledge to di earth and then you make your decision
Calling on di government, no matta di religion
No yellow tape and mi seh no red ribbon
How dem ah act lik dem stubborn?

Look what dem doing to Mother Earth
You know, mi just caan stand it
Pollution inna di earth and dem ah destroy di planet
Doing to Mother Earth
You know, mi just caan stand it

Mi tell dem seh TIME OUT
All these things mi ah FIND OUT
A east, inna west and mi seh ALL SOUTH
These are di things mi haffi talk bout
Wi nah like fi si garbage inna MY ROUTE
So mi haffi speak up outta MY MOUTH
Jah Jah Mason going back to MY ROOTS
So mi haffi hang on and is MY TRUTH!

BOOM! Wicked Heart is another one which has progressed on me just a bit from first hearing it, as the always compelling Lyricson takes on the ASAP Riddim. This isn’t the Guinea native’s first link with Irie Ites as he also appeared on the aforementioned Borderline Riddim with the sizable No Worry [“Rasta wi nah worry fi wi know, nah worry fi wi know! Babylon system will be burning!”] and his return shows that maybe artist and label should have made more time for each other over the years. Wicked Heart is just what you’re thinking it is as Lyricson chants down and flings flames upon nastiness and corruption anywhere he can find it and although it may walk an expected course in terms of direction, sonically Wicked Heart is amongst the most interesting tunes here… again, as you may’ve expected coming from Lyricson who is probably one of the most DYNAMIC artists in all of modern Roots music in my opinion [“Nuff a dem a wolf inna sheep clothes. That’s why wi and dem could never be close. Mislead di ghetto youths: Their only purpose. Stinkin babylon system designed fi hurt us. Mi si seh nuff a dem ah live inna confusion. Rasta come fi bun di lies and dis-sillusion. Put an end to all di war and sufferation. Tell wicked babylon a time fi redemption”].

Irie Ites return to the fruitful shores of Trinidad and this time they come back with the sweeping social commentary Redder Than Red and the damn dependable but damn underrated Jah Defender. While not too dissimilar to a few of the songs on the album in its lyrical approach (and there’s nothing wrong with that), Redder Than Red features the Defender producing a sterling vocal performance… he always sounds good, but the tune is very easy on the ears and strong lyrically as well. Jah Defender has enjoyed a good 2022 campaign with a few tunes and, significantly, a brand new EP, Jah Movements, but Redder Than Red is probably the single best tune that I’ve heard from him in some time.

Finally (not really) is another tripled combination, this one bringing together Tomawok, Keefaz & Puppa Nadem for Calme avant la Tempête [‘Calm Before the Storm’]. Of the three, I am only really familiar with the work of Keefaz (who has appeared on Irie Ites Records productions previously), but apparently this is just what all three are doing these days as I’ve found two other selections, Big & Ready and Family (the latter of which is from earlier this year) done in a combination and for Irie Ites. It’s a nice touch, doing a French tune for a French label and it probably would be the type of thing that I would have complained about being absent had it not been here. So, I always appreciate when people do things like this showing their own influence in what they have locally. Well done.

I would have also complained, and even more so, had Irie Ites Records not included a clean instrumental version of the ASAP Riddim but, thankfully I don’t have to do that because they did. The ASAP is a lovely modern Roots track with a dash of electricity and… this infectious other sound that I can’t quite describe accurately. As a riddim, alone, it ranks highly in the annals of anything they’ve done. It’s one of their best and it plays a nearly perfect backdrop to several big tunes, which is all you can ‘ask’ of a riddim.

Overall, it just feels good!!! Certain things in the world should just be a certain way: Irie Ites should be making big riddims and they are! Again, if you haven’t had the opportunity to dig into what they’ve done thus far, the ASAP Riddim is not only a FINE riddim of its own, but it’s a good place to start listening to one of the most decorated imprints in all of modern Roots Reggae.
The ASAP takes me back to the early/mid 2000’s when it seemed like a few times a year Irie Ites Records would reach with some giant composition with a LOADED roster of artists and that is just what it is, nearly two decades later. In that time so many things have changed in our music but, apparently, some have also, BEAUTIFULLY, remained the same. The ASAP Riddim has time on its side, I’ve missed its type, but it definitely ranks as one of Irie Ites Records’ finest creations to date.

Where to get it

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More Irie Ites Records Music

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