I-Grade Dub live, Miami, June 17, 2015
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Tippy-I and I-Grade Dub live, Miami, June 17, 2015

Blazing live dub set from Laurent “Tippy-I” Laurent of I-Grade Dub, Miami, June 17, 2015…


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Tippy

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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Comments

  1. jk says:

    That first Vaughn Benjamin song – “heavy low” – is wonderful… it sounds like I’ve known it all my life.

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