I saw Inner Circle play a bar date in Germany back in 1990. The band’s been around even longer. They formed in Jamaica in 1968. While known to the Fox Television viewing world for their 1989 song, “Bad Boys,” (title track for the show Cops) the band is better known inside the music industry for its chill recording studio in Miami.
Evelyn McDonnell of the Miami Herald paid Inner Circle a visit at Circle House–where Usher, Lenny Kravitz, Lil Wayne, Ne-Yo, Jamie Foxx and many other stars have cut a record–and came away with a multimedia report for her paper.
Straddling a quiet residential street in North Miami Beach lie two houses that are musical portals. From the mixing board in the guest cottage of one, you can look out on a curvy pool and see hitmakers taking a dip. Pungent aromas of vegetarian cuisine waft out of the kitchen across the road, while members of the storied reggae band Inner Circle watch soccer on TV, rehearse, or tend to the business of Circle House, the top-notch, world-renowned studio they built.
Caribbean culture passes into urban America here — and vice versa. Some of the hottest records of the past 12 years — from Who Let the Dogs Out to today’s hit Lip Gloss — have been recorded by pop’s top musicians and producers between these brightly colored walls. If there’s one place responsible for making the region a top destination for lovers of hip-hop, reggae and R&B — a crowd that will once again be partying in Miami this Memorial Day weekend — it’s not a South Beach club, but this tropical, professional, homey studio.
Some studios — like Circle House’s near neighbor, Hit Factory/Criterion — are known for their phenomenal acoustics and state-of-the-art technology. Circle House has those, but it also has brownies. They’re made by one of the local cooks who provide fresh gourmet cuisine nightly for whomever happens to be in one of the studio’s multiple recording and mixing rooms, which on a given night could be Nas, Kelis, Trick Daddy and Rick Ross.
”We’re not trying to run a studio business, that’s not our thing,” says Ian Lewis. “We’re just vibing. How we look at it is, in the words of the great Bunny Wailer, it’s correct. It’s flowing.”
Here’s another, older article on the studio from City Link Magazine.