RAVER EXCLUSIVE! Laurent "Tippy-I" Alfred (I-Grade Dub) live at Dub In DC III! | MIDNIGHT RAVER
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RAVER EXCLUSIVE! Laurent “Tippy-I” Alfred (I-Grade Dub) live at Dub In DC III!

Today we present an EXCLUSIVE live set from our friend Laurent “Tippy-I” Alfred of I-Grade Dub/Zion I Kings.  Performed live at DC’s Bossa Bistro on Friday April 3, 2015, DUB IN DC III featured a slamming live set from I-Grade Dub and selections by our good friend Dutty Bookman, author of the new book Fatidic:  Selected Duttyisms.  Tippy-I shares his set of blazing Zion I Kings-produced tracks with the world for the first time here at MIDNIGHT RAVER!

Hailing from the US Virgin Islands, I-Grade Records and Zion I Kings are at the forefront of the U.S. roots reggae movement.  As musicians, producers, and dubmixologists they have pushed reggae roots to its highest heights producing cutting edge projects with the likes of Midnite, Pressure Busspipe, Ziggi Recado, and Jahdan Blakkamore.  As I recently stated in my review of Blakkamore’s ‘Order of Distinction’:

“The work of Zion I Kings has ushered in the most inventive and transformational period for roots reggae in more than thirty years.  This unique brand of modern roots reggae – commonly known as the “I-Grade sound” – is characterized by an authentic and profound spiritual intensity, overtly Rastafarian and Pan-Africanist lyrical themes, and multi-layered percussive and horns-driven soundscapes which give the sound a deeply reverential and ceremonial feel. It is a sound that has clearly influenced an entire generation of aspiring roots reggae artists and is largely responsible for the resurgence in popularity of socially conscious roots reggae throughout the world. Jamaica’s so-called “reggae revival” isn’t as much a spontaneous, homegrown, grassroots movement among like-minded socially conscious reggae artists, as it is Jamaica’s answer to Midnite, the “I-Grade sound,” and the global influence of the entire Virgin Islands reggae contingent.”

Big respect to Tippy-I for sharing this exclusive with MIDNIGHT RAVER.




DUB IN DC3 flyer


If you’ve followed the rise of reggae in the USVI, you’ve heard about Tippy and his record label, I-Grade Records. I-Grade is behind much of the music that’s put VI reggae on the map, including nine albums from Midnite and, recently, “Virgin Islands Nice,” the Pressure Busspipe anthem that inspired this series. As a producer, Tippy (who now works primarily within the unit Zion I Kings) has helped shape the sound of these recordings, as well as off-island projects like Snoop’s Reincarnated.

Tippy’s story hardly begins and ends in the studio, though. An Olympic swimmer who competed in the 1992 Barcelona games, he graduated from Harvard (undergrad) and Yale Law School and then taught at Columbia, before diving into the music business. The man is officially “Ivy League” — three times over. Though music is where he ultimately found his calling, he’s been putting his law degree to use shaping the U.S. Virgin Islands’ future, having authored two crucial pieces of legislation that stand to make the USVI a hub for medical marijuana, as well as music and film production.

Tippy is a humble man not given to touting his own accomplishments, but his track record is impressive, to say the least. We asked him to speak on the breadth of his experiences in St. Croix, and his bold plans for the future of the whole Virgin Islands.

I Grade Records was founded in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands during early 2001 by Laurent “Tippy I” Alfred along with partner Kenyatta Itola. The label’s primary mission is to produce and release the highest quality reggae music emanating from St. Croix and the US Virgin Islands. Over the course of several highly acclaimed releases, I Grade has developed a unique musical identity that is undeniably roots, but freely influenced by hip hop, jazz, soul and other musical genres, forming a sound that is both ancient and modern. Having released several powerful debut albums, I Grade Records is known for its keen ear for new voices that need to be heard.  As a crucial part of the roots music movement in the VI, I Grade is committed to “spreading musical ises and healing, from St. Croix to across the world.”




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