The Baha Men, most well-known for “Who Let the Dogs Out?”, released a new album on October 9.
Ride With Me is a 9-song celebration of the good vibes and Bahamian rhythms that define the band, successfully reframed with a modern, electronic backbone.
The last album the band had released with a label behind them was 2004’s Holla! Despite the gap between albums, Knight says the band never really experienced a break-up. The band would still get together to record “a song here, a song there, but nothing really serious.”
Three years ago, though, the band was given an opportunity to come back in a big way.
Sony Latin America held a conference while looking for new artists in the region, giving showcases to artists.
As Dyson puts it, “two songs into the showcase, the CEO of Sony Latin America asked if we were obligated to any other label because he wanted to sign us.”
Of course, quite a bit in the music industry has changed in the last ten years.
Despite being the newest member of the Baha Men, Knight has a good understanding of what went into making the earlier albums from talking with bandmates.
The biggest shift, in his eyes, is that “the entire band is never together for a recording.”
As is now common practice, each track is individually recorded and compiled together post-recording.
Dyson also mentions that, in some cases, the producers would come to the band with an essentially complete song for them to record.
The band would take the work and “add a bit of that island vibe, that flavor, but it’s pretty much the same song.”
Knight admits that it was initially difficult for the band to reconcile their Bahamian influences with the more modern, electronic music environment.
He refers to Bahamian music as “Junkanoo.” The genre is characterized as celebration songs, featuring an African drum structure, and is described by Knight as “a cross between marching band and noise.”
Knight says that, due to the “junky” style of the island’s sound, it can be “hard to make it sound clean” and that “producers usually fight against that.”
However, the band was able to bring the issues to rest, being able to “lock in that sound.” According to Knight, “it’s all about rhythm.”
Knight took the opportunity to compliment his bandmates for having the talent to find that balance.
2015 not only marks the first new album for the Baha Men in over a decade, but also the 15th anniversary of the release of “Who Let the Dogs Out?”
The final track of Ride With Me, titled “Off the Leash,” pays homage to the track, even sampling the famous line.
While other band members and producers enjoyed the homage, Knight was “totally against the version that is on the album,” admitting that he enjoys the Dance Radio Mix of the song much more.
He felt that “the sample of it was a bit overkill,” and that the song “reiterates the whole one-hit-wonder atmosphere.” Knight also worries that the song says that “the band is only good for ‘Who Let the Dogs Out?’”
Knight looks at top artists in the industry, saying that “Michael Jackson didn’t [play to the fame of his biggest song], Beyonce doesn’t do it, and we are just as good. I wouldn’t even say I’m that good; [my bandmates] are that good.”
However, Knight does concede that “if [Off the Leash] opens up the market to listen to the other songs that we have, then it’s great.” He mentions that his favorite song on Ride With Me is “Carrying On.”
Knight also provides perspective on how the fame that came from “Who Let the Dogs Out?” affected the band, seeing it as “a blessing and a curse.”
It “put the band on a high hill” and that it made it hard for the band to follow-up the fame of the single.
He mentions that if the song had not become so popular, it would have helped ”the consistency of the brand.”
He feels that “the music would have a lot of great songs instead of this one mega-hit song.”
The song also “married the band to the US market” and changed the relationship between the band and some different markets, like Japan and the Bahamas.
Knight likens the change to a favorite drink. “They change one of the ingredients, and it tastes similar, but not the same. So you only buy it once in a while, for the nostalgia.” He concludes, though, that “with new music, we can do new things.”
The interview concluded with a focus on the future, as Knight gives a preview of what listeners can expect from the second album in a 3-record deal with Sony.
Knight feels that “the next album is going to vary from [Ride With Me] in texture.”
There will be more collaborative efforts, both in terms of feature artists and producers.
Knight mentions that many of these collaborations will work to “give the album a more worldly feel” and feels that “we want to move away from the programming as much as possible. Give it more of a live feel.”
Knight’s final comment was that it is paramount that the band, no matter what direction their music takes, retain their music’s “good vibes.”
The Baha Men’s new album Ride With Me is now available nationwide, the physical version being exclusive to Walmart. It is also digitally available on iTunes, Google Play and Spotify. Dyson encourages anyone interested in the band to check out bahamen.com.