It almost doesn’t seem fair; that a nation so rich in beauty bear an artistic heritage every bit as vibrant as the beaches and the islands themselves. This deep musical legacy of the Bahamas might have forever remained a secret, shared only with visitors to this paradise, if not for the runaway global success of the Baha Men. In the summer of 2000, all eyes – and ears – turned to the string of pristine Caribbean islands as the Baha Men mixed the beloved junkanoo festival spirit with a relentlessly captivating chorus. “Who Let The Dogs Out” was irresistible. Undoubtedly the only pop anthem to ever feature a goat-skin goombay drum, the song immediately rose to the top of the charts throughout the world and became a sports stadium phenomenon as teams fought to call it their official battle cry.
The universal appeal of the song carried the sound of the Bahamas across the globe. Local officials called the Baha Men the nation’s greatest musical ambassadors. The band played in cities, in states and in countries where all language barriers disappeared the moment the beat of the goombay began. The Baha Men, thrilled as they watched the world discover their music, kept on doing what they’d be doing for the previous 20 years. They turned every concert into a junkanoo festival, rooted in pulsating island rhythms but with an uncanny ability to appeal to everyone. They were a band long before “Who Let The Dogs Out” and had no plans to change anything now. Even Rolling Stone magazine knew of the Baha Men’s enduring musical journey, declaring, “After 20 years, the Baha Men are an overnight success.”
As “Dogs” settled into a comfortable level of eternal popularity through video games, blockbuster films, commercials and children’s albums, the Baha Men continued doing what they loved best – touring. The band performed concerts around the world, always including their favorite stop, the Bahamas. And they continued to write songs that bridge the islands with pop culture like no other artist before them. In 2014, the time seemed right to share their new songs so the Baha Men signed with SONY Music Entertainment. Immediately, their “Night & Day” was selected for the FIFA and SONY Music Entertainment ONE LOVE, ONE RHYTHM: THE OFFICIAL 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP ALBUM. Celebrating that summer’s FIFA World Cup championship, the album matched the Baha Men alongside Pitbull featuring Jennifer Lopez & Claudia Leitte, Santana & Wyclef featuring Avicii & Alexandre Pires, Arlindo Cruz, Ricky Martin, Psirico, Sergio Mendes & Carlinhos Brown, Shakira, Adelén and many more. “It’s got an island-style party beat that no one can resist getting up and dancing to,” says Baha Men vocalist Dyson Knight, “whether they are from South America, the Caribbean, Japan or the US…or anywhere!”
“Night & Day” marks the first single off of the new Baha Men EP, RIDE WITH ME, due in the fall of 2015. Produced by Grammy winner Troyton Rami (Sean Paul, Beenie Man, Tego Calderon and Wayne Wonder), the band’s infectious energy easily made its way into Rami’s Black Shadows studio in Miami. “The guys are really quiet normally,” Rami recalls, “but when the music is playing they transcend into a musical experience, not just with their voices but their hands and bodies. Everything around them becomes a musical instrument.” “There was a moment when Rick and Dyson were recording,” he continues, “and they were jumping around the studio, drumming with their hands on top of the mixing board and just about anything else within their reach and I really got a chance to see how they come to life when they get caught up in the rhythm of the songs.”
“We want people to be happy,” explains vocalist Knight. “We want them to feel that it’s okay to let loose, to know that there are some good things in the world, there is a reason to enjoy life, feel good about themselves.” “This album puts you in a place where you’re happy,” agrees Rami. “Your frame of mind just changes because of the musical vibe of what’s playing.”
“And we wanted to definitely include the junkanoo sound,” explains band leader Isaiah Taylor, “making it current so that it could appeal to every kind of person. We even used junkanoo-type syncopation in the melodies of the songs. So on a lot of the tracks, we are singing in the way that would probably be played by a brass section. We were so lucky to have Troyton, who understood this. He helped us turn the feel-good spirit of the Bahamas into music.”
And fear not, the goombay is still front and center. “It’s the basis, the structure of the music,” says Knight. “We couldn’t be the Baha Men without it.”