He elaborates: "I think some of the table service stuff, bottle service, is a little out of control. And God bless people that have the means to do that stuff. But when they're making a spectacle of who can buy more bottles... That kind of thing has its place, but I come from an era where you just go to a concert to have a good time. You're with your friends, you have a couple of drinks, you're having a good time. It's not about well, 'ok, who's looking at me? Let me make sure I can buy the most bottles.' That just doesn't equate, to me, a good time." Though he's clear that he's happy to let people do their thing. In no way does Irie sound like a guy with misty-eyed memories of the past. Rather, he seems to just like the real things in life.
"If you ask me, I would definitely go back to that time, ten years ago, or whenever that was, when everybody was just going out, having a great time, enjoying their friends and enjoying their music, and can't wait to do it again next week."
And at the arena, while the Heat play and on plenty of other nights, Irie's the guy making fun happen. Some of his favorite tunes to spin these days are TJR's "Funky Vodka," which was recently sampled by Pitbull, and Lykke Li "I Follow Rivers." He's a big fan of Rick Ross' new stuff, and likes to play "Hold Me Back," which we joked is altered quite a bit in its clean version. When he plays it at the arena, he notes jokingly, "it doesn't have the same intensity."
Though we only spoke with him for a half an hour, he reflected a warmth and goodness not common in most. Irie is also a philanthropist and all-around do-gooder. He accredits Alonzo Mourning with fostering this side of his personhood. "I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with him in my early days with the Heat," he says. He used to head out with the basketball player to speak at schools. One time, Mourning had a tight schedule with tons of media stuff coming up that day. They were supposed to spend 20 minutes at the school.
"Twenty minutes came, it left," he remembers. They were there for an hour and 45 minutes. Irie pulled him aside and asked him why they stayed so long and Mourning told him, "'What do you mean? The kids had questions.'" It made Irie think. '"'Do you understand that the time that I spent there, the time spent speaking to those students as a group or one on one, answering their specific questions, has the capacity to change their lives,'" he recalls Mourning relating to him.
The idea was: "If we can change a life here today, there's nothing more important." And Irie realized, "you don't have to be Alonso Mourning to take an interest in your community." Though it's great to be famous, but he points out, "anyone who's paying attention, it's good enough for them."
After that, "If I could help," he says, "the answer was always yes."
He's since worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Special Olympics, and the Boys and Girls Club. And with members of the Heat like Shaquille O'Neal, Jason Taylor, Dwyane Wade, and others, he's contributed to plenty of other causes.
Recently, he was a teacher for a day with Teach for America at Edison and Northwestern high schools. He says the experience was amazing, "These are schools that have had their fair share of controversy, fair share of issues, from going to F schools to climbing their way out to B and C status."