Tippa Irie started his musical career as a teenager in South London on his father’s Sound System called Musical Messiah. Family members soon realized that young Tippa had talent and encouraged him to enter local talent competitions. Most of the local Sound Systems in the area also recognized his talent and invited him to perform on their Sound Systems.
The first Sound System to actually record Tippa was Sir Lloyd on the LGR record label where he made his first record at age 17, called The Opposite. Shortly after, Tippa got his first big break when he was asked to join King Tubby’s Sound. He stayed with King Tubby’s for a couple of years before being spotted by Dennis Rowe and Lloyd Francis from Saxon Sound System, who were both blown away by Tippa’s talent. They asked him to come to South London and join Saxon Sound.
Saxon Sound System became the forefront of the UK Reggae and Dancehall scene and helped launch the careers of Maxi Priest, Papa Levi, Smiley Culture, Tippa’s sister Miss Irie, Daddy Colonel, Daddy Rusty, Roger Robin, Peter King-who created the fast talking style that Saxon MC’s were famous for- and many more.
The sessions were recorded on cassette tapes and as the tapes circulated, their popularity grew. Tippa and Saxon became famous all over the UK, USA, Europe and Jamaica. Record labels such as Virgin, Greensleeves, Island, Ariwa and Fashion became interested in the artists’ on the Sound.
Greensleeves offered Tippa a recording contract which he accepted and went on to release ‘Jus a Speak’ with Daddy Colonel. Next, came a string of singles including ‘Good to have the feeling you’re the best’, ’Complain Neighbour’ and ‘Hello Darling’ which hit
number 1 in the British Reggae charts. Hello Darling also sailed to number 22 in the British National charts and was a hit all over Europe and the Caribbean.
‘Hello Darling’ was taken from Tippa’s first album ‘Is it really happening to me’ released in 1986. Since that album, Tippa has released 20 studio albums with several number 1 hits including ‘Ragamuffin girl’ ft. Peter Hunnigale and ‘Superwoman’ ft. Winsome which were released in 1989. ‘Stress’ ft. Lloyd Brown was released in the 90’s.
The 90’s was a great decade for Tippa. He also teamed up with Mad Professor in 1994 and recorded the critically acclaimed ‘Rebel on the roots corner’. ‘Shouting for the gunners’ was recorded in the 90’s for the Arsenal Football Team and reached the top 30 in the British pop charts. ‘It’s a love thing’ ft. Lloyd Brown was also a big hit in the 90’s.
We can safely say there is not a continent in the world that Tippa has not graced with his talent. From Reggae Sunsplash in Jamaica to 12 cities in China, all 50 States in America, almost every country in Europe, all over Asia including India with The Reggae Rajahs, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia and Singapore. Also Australia and Africa including Gambia, Kenya and Botswana.
Artists’ from all over the world have requested to work with him in all types of music genres. Tippa Irie is not just a successful performer, he has built up a reputation as a top radio DJ, record producer, and owner of his own Studio.
He worked with the Black Eyed Peas and was nominated for a Grammy in 2004 for the worldwide smash hit single ‘Hey Mama’
which Tippa wrote with Will-I-am and taken from their album ‘Elephunk’. He also worked on the BEP’s next album ‘Monkey Business’ on the track ‘Dum Diddley’
He has also worked with bands and artists such as Maxi Priest, Peter Spence, Pato Banton, Long Beach Dub All-stars, Jurassic 5, Friendly Fire Crew, Detour Posse, Chainska, The Uppercut Band, UB40 (who he supported on their Labour of Love lll tour in 2000), Aswad, The Far East Band and more recently Congo Natty aka Rebel MC to form a group called UK All-Stars, and countless others.
In 2016 Tippa struck gold again with his latest album ‘Living the Dream’. The album is a mix of Reggae Dancehall, Soca, Hip Hop, Pop & Afro Beat. He teams up again with Peter Hunnigale with the track ‘Friends will say’ & General Levy with the track ‘Ebola’. The album also features Safiyah, and Sun-I-Tafari among others. Tippa is really excited with the feedback and response from this album.
In 2018, Tippa started touring with the UK reggae legend David “RamJam” Rodigan on tour with the 25-piece Outlook orchestra celebrating 40 years in the reggae business performing to several sold out crowds. He has continued into 2020 with touring the world, with plans to perform in Asia, Africa, Europe and the United States.
Tippa Irie continues to be one of the most consistent artists’ around and is not afraid to continually reinvent himself and venture into different genres to keep his music fresh and current which attracts people of all ages. To date, Tippa remains one of the most successful entertainers to come out of the UK and continues to fly the flag for the UK scene wherever he goes.