Over 15 years after the smash hit ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ hit the airwaves, the Baha Men are back with new members, a new sound and a new album.
Discovered around 1992 by the band’s future manager Steve Greenberg of Atlantic Records, the group was plucked from venues like Waterloo, where they were found as the Baha Men, and transplanted into stadiums and venues packed with fans.
“Who Let the Dogs Out” originated as a cover by Trinidadian artist Anslem Douglas. When Greenberg heard the song on a vacation, he approached the band over five years later and was received with a resounding refusal to record the song. 16 years later, the reluctant record remains the group’s best known single.
“The way that they planned to record the song was going to be different from the original and it was going to take off,” said Douglas Knight, a current lead vocalist, writer and choreographer for the Baha Men.
With the instant fame, however, came the unforeseen pitfalls of an overabundance of money and celebrity status that led to the band taking the 11-year hiatus between their last album, “Holla!” in 2004.
“It was a shocking experience,what happened to the band with ‘Who Let the Dogs Out,’ it got to their heads,” Knight said. “When the band came home and just decided to take a little break while they dealt with a lot of legal issues, new relationships formed, people started families and they woke up one morning and it was 10 years later.”
With such an extended break between albums, the band is currently working to re-establish themselves in the music industry. “It’s an exciting time for the band as well as it is a sobering time,” Knight said. “Some of the members are still looking for the ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ rush, (but) 10 years later you have to rebuild your fan base all over again.”
Though the Baha Men’s hit song is widely known for its appearance in the childhoods of millennials through movies such as ‘Rugrats in Paris’ and through other tracks featured in ‘Shrek’ and ‘The Crocodile Hunter,’ the band’s new album capitalizes on pump-up party jams with an upbeat tempo.
“Ride With Me” takes listeners back to the “Who Let the Dogs Out” days with their song “Off the Leash,” which aims to reel in older fans while promoting their newer sound. Knight, however, was against the inclusion of the reference to the band’s source of initial popularity.
“People still request ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ every time we perform,” Knight said. “Why create another one?”
Knight may not be the biggest fan of the original ‘Off the Leash,’ but the dance remix is one of the choreographer’s favorite off- album tracks because of its beat and emphasis on movement.
“The dance version for off the leash has a dance that we call the Baha Shuffle,” Knight said. “The visual gives life to your music, especially in this day and age where the imagination is pretty much directed by a director in the minds of everyone.”
For Knight, performing is about more than simply singing a rehearsed song with a group of people, it’s about connecting with the audience.
“You gotta get up there and you gotta kill it you gotta give people something they can see and feel- put their jaw on the floor,” Knight laughed. “That’s what Baha Men do with our songs, we try to mesmerize you. We’ll trick you into loving us.”
In ‘Ride With Me,’ Knight favors the songs with the most visual and energetic appeals.
“’Winding Up’ is one of my favorites,” Knight said. “The performance of it is just so epic. ‘Carrying On’ is another one of my favorites, I think that captures a lot of the energy that was also in ‘Who Let the Dogs Out.’ It’s a straight-up party track.”
Before chasing music as his dream, Knight achieved a degree in computer science. Now, as the lead singer for a comeback band, he wants other islanders to follow his lead.
“We want to be role models in the music scene, especially for being from the Bahamas,” Knight said. “The Bahamas is only 380,000 people, so we want to inspire other islanders to want to do music, to see that there is success in the industry.”
Knight wants the group to build off of the ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ fan base while also appealing to a more inclusive crowd.
“(We want to reach) the people who grew with us, the ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ fans that want the energy of that song but not exactly that song,” Knight said. “I think that (fans) really latched on to that song because of the vibe.”
One of those fans, Nancy Leone, a sophomore international business and marketing major, remembers the Baha Men from their ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ fame, but is excited to hear their more recent album.
“They were my favorite band when I was 10 years old,” Leone said. “They have a unique sound that’s a mix of pop, hip-hop, and reggae, which I enjoy. I’d be interested to see what kind of new material they have.”