I conducted this interview with Tippy I of Zion I Kings back in 2021 on the eve of the release of Akae Beka’s ‘Polarities’ album. Most fans would agree that the album is Vaughn Benjamin’s best since 2016’s ‘Portals,’ also an I-Grade/Zion I Kings production. Both albums are now regarded as modern roots masterpieces.

Polarities‘ is the 13th and final full album of new material from Vaughn Benjamin and I Grade Records along with Zion I Kings, the culmination of a 20 year working relationship that began with 2001’s Nemozian Rasta album, which was Midnite’s 4th album released to date at that time.

Polarities was produced jointly by the Zion I Kings production team, with Tippy I of I Grade at the production helm, alongside Vaughn Benjamin himself. Zion I Kings is a family of producers and labels that include Jah David of Zion High Productions, Tippy of I Grade Records and Andrew “Moon” Bain of Lustre Kings Productions. Tippy and Vaughn have been producing songs together since 2001, and this Polarities album was a return to their roots of sharing album production. The sound reflects this collaboration as it weaves deep roots basslines with intricate melodies and instrumentation.

So who is Tippy? He is a former Olympian, representing the Virgin Islands as an accomplished swimmer at the 1992 Olympic Summer Games in Barcelona. He is a 1996 graduate of the prestigious Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is also a 2003 graduate of Yale Law School. However, his true passion is music and his story is inextricably linked to the rise of Midnite and the Virgin Islands reggae movement.

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My favorite track from the new ‘Polarities’ album is “Sow and the Reap,” a song brilliantly written by Vaughn Benjamin which addresses the horrors of slavery while drawing parallels to the effects on the human population by today’s misguided immigration policies. Listen Keenly…