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 roots reggae music emanating from St. Croix - music that provides both spiritual ises and much needed healing for people across the globe. Since 2001, I Grade has produced and released seven albums with several different artists, helping to firmly establish a strong foundation for the flourishing reggae movement on the small island of St. Croix.
Logo & text courtesy of I Grade Records.
I Grade Records is perhaps best known for its crucial collaboration projects with the world-renowned roots band, Midnite. Following three powerful albums on their own, Midnite released is first collaboration project with I Grade - Nemozian Rasta - in July, 2001. This passionate and innovative album was quickly followed up six months later by Assini - a groundbreaking album of heavy-weight roots with all-live instrumentation. In January 2003, I Grade Records released yet another innovative Midnite album - Geoman - a collaboration between Midnite's lead singer and its crucial riddim section - Phil Merchant (bass) and Dion Hopkins (drums). The third Midnite-I Grade release - Vijan - was released in September 2003 to widespread critical acclaim for its highly creative sound and visionary lyrical content.
In addition to releasing four deeply respected albums with Midnite, I Grade has become known for its keen ear for new talent. Most notably, I Grade Records was privileged to produce, record and release the debut album by the amazingly powerful singer named Dezarie. As the strength of Dezarie's gifts traverse the world, she is becoming widely regarded as one of the top female reggae vocalists of our time. Dezarie's debut in November 2001, entitled Fya, produced alongside the Midnite band, is regarded by many as a modern day classic. Album sales for Fya continue to surge over two years after its release. The album had the distinction of being the first non-Jamaican ever album to top www.ireggae.com's top ten list.
I Grade recently released another powerful debut release by a new artist from St. Croix named Abja. His first release, Inna Red I Hour, has received strong reviews and radio play from around the world. Many DJ's and writers regard Inna Red I Hour as one of the finest debut releases of conscious reggae to emerge in years. Future releases with other groundbreaking new artists are currently in the works. The upcoming debut release by a talented young singjay named Yahadanai is sure to make widely felt waves amongst reggae fans across the globe.
I Grade releases consistently receive critical acclaim from the reggae community worldwide. Four of the I Grade releases have topped the prestigious www.ireggae.com monthly top ten list, most holding that slot for more than 3 months. The releases have also consistently ranked highly on Europe's top chart, the www.reggae-vibes.com's monthly top 50 list, as well as a number of online and print media other charts. I Grade releases are also among the top selling albums sold by independent reggae distributor, Ernie B's Reggae.