Trinidadian Carnival has rolled around again. And here are a few songs that I really like. These songs are not necessarily the most popular songs of the year but just ones that caught my ear.
- Olatunji – Bodyline
This song is by far my favourite of the 2018 class. Olatunji, known for his previous experiments with Afro-pop, divorces that style for a joyous romp into swing music. I love the concept and the video is even cooler especially considering I was involved with one like this in 2017 with the 1688 Collective and Jabari Browne.
2. Kes – Hello
I know I said in the intro that this list might not include the most popular songs, but this one by Kes is definitely one of the front-runners of 2018. Here Kes the Band is on the Afro-Pop fusion vibe and this one easily calls out to the work of Flavour, Davido and the other members of the Afro-pop legion.
3. Full of Vibe – Voice and Marge Blackman
Kes is has a great voice and once again I like his contribution with Marge Blackman. This one fits into the more traditional Ragga Soca/Groovy Soca model. It has a solid beat and great vocals which means that it fits neatly into any Soca playlist.
4. Machel Montano and Superblue
The of the biggest names in Soca in Trinidad have joined forces this year and this song pretty defines the genre in 3 minutes and 22s. There is nothing more Soca than this. It probably will win road march as well.
Ok, so I chose some really popular ones here…
What songs do you like?
Jab Jab is a certified sub-genre of modern Soca
The Jab character is a staple of J’ouvert carnival celebrations and looks like the guy below.
The music itself is characterised by melodies with small ranges usually in minor with little harmonic movement. Check a Jab classic by the Grenadan boss Tall Pree below which explains the whole thing.
When it comes to Jab Jab tunes, the certified capital of the world is Grenada. and no one does Jab Jab like them.
So here are some of my favourite Jab Jab tunes from Grenada carnival 2017. ENJOY!
The early results from the Soca competitions are in.
This means that Barbadian radio rotation will now be based around the competition songs chosen to go forward
leaving the other 600 to die.
Before these songs go into the afterlife altogether though, let me try to keep five of them alive. Here is my Lazarus 5 of Crop Over 2017. a.k.a 5 songs that didn’t make it into the next round of competition.
- Makka Tree – Vybz I Love
I was introduced to this guy earlier this year when my Caribbean Ensemble from the Barbados Community Collge did the National Cultural Foundation’s Cavalcade. I was immediately blown away by his voice. Check this one produced by Quantum Productions.
2. Jafar – Bang
Like Makka Tree, I met this guy in person on the Cavalcade gig. This Bajan Dub song, although not progressing further, has all the qualities of a really good Bajan Dub song.
3. Aidan – Life Nice
This song, written by the Waterstreet Boyz and produced by super-producer Chris Allman, is in the tradition of the modern Ragga Soca. With a great hook and super saccharine melody, it should not be thrown on to the rubbish-heap. A good rendition by Aidan as well.
4. Chenice – Sweet Carnival
Like Life Nice, this is a modern Ragga Soca. Chenice does a good job here as well.
5. Contone – Come Back Tomor
Contone has been around a long time and has of late been battling his own demons. This year he reconnected with long- time producer, Anderson ‘Blood’ Armstrong to produce this. Like My Car Brek Down and 2 Sir Grantleys, this is Contone at his Bajan Blues best.
These are not all the songs obviously.
And I would be glad to hear more suggestions.
What are your five?
Here is my group’s offering featuring the super talented Jabari Browne. We didn’t compete with this but keep checking it anyway.
Last month I contributed to an article written by Sharine Taylor from Noisey.
Here is the link.
Bajan Dub is a big mover and shaker for Crop Over this year again.
If you want to call it Bashment Soca then fine…
Here is the Top 5 anyway.
5. Lady Essence – Fluffy Gal
The most prominent lady of Bajan Dub is back. Here she is keeping it like she normally does with Fluffy Gal.
4. Stabby – Wukkist
Stabby has actually been around for quite a while originally doing the “original” Bashment Soca. This beat is one of the freshest in Bajan Dub.
3. Stiffy – Tip and Ben Ova
Stiffy to me is one the biggest talents in the genre of Bajan Dub. Like Stabby, he came to prominence through Soca. This one has another fresh beat as well.
2. Scrilla and Faith – Gimme
This one is the only duo entry and could have easily gone to Coopa Dan and Rhea’s “Bare Trouble.”* This one gets a slight nod from me but not by much.
- Scrilla – Wood
This song is perhaps the biggest Bajan Dub song for the year and once again features Scrilla doing what he does best.
Enjoy theBajan Dub competition if you are in Barbados and if you are overseas please continue to watch this cultural space.
*Nah Going Home is actually 11 years old but born after the school year…;)
Crop Over has seen its first controversy for 2017.
For those not in Barbados, it concerns the release of Nikita’s song, “Same Way,” which basically was released 2 years before by DeeVine and called “We De Same.”
Check the links below:
For any artist involved in the Carnival music industry this mix-up is pretty much as life-shattering as they come and here are 3 reasons why I would be in terminal depression if what had happened to Nikita had happened to me.
- I spent plenty money!
To get any song out for Crop Over is expensive. There is the song-writer, the producer, the studio time, the mixing and the mastering to pay for. Those bills could run north of 5000 BDS easily. So to shell out all of that cash to realize my song is not the original work I intended would have put me in firm connection with the Kleenex box.
2. I look like a thief
Stealing is reprehensible no matter how and when it happens. It is even worse when it looks like a public heist of lesser known artist. If I was made to look like a hustler at best, or a thief at worse, when I am not even close to being dishonest, then I would be completely broken.
3. I have one shot at this.
The carnival music complex is a CRUEL model. It allows for no mistakes. So to have a single which is going to be my only major release for the YEAR caught up in plagiarism is possibly the worse thing that can happen. It can also rule me out of the lucrative lottery of the soca competitions.
Are there other issues in the Caribbean? Yes, they are.
But do not overlook for one minute the personal and professional predicament Nikita and the other members of the production team have been placed in. This is a serious matter of integrity that is being played out VERY PUBLICLY. So after reading this, do like me and place yourself in her position and if you come out positive, then you are as good as Nikita, Deevine and the Red Boyz.
But if you think you would be equally depressed…
You are not alone
I would feel DE SAME WAY!
There are few artists who are disliked as much as Rameses Brown is in Barbados.
For those of you who don’t know who Rameses Brown is,
he is a soca artist who came to local Barbadian prominence in the mid to late 90s.
The reason for this dislike has always baffled me and I thought, why not dedicate a blog post to try to answer the question.
Why does everyone hate Rameses?
1. Rameses sings ok.
Rameses might be the first to tell you he is not a technically gifted singer. He can’t do the runs like Anderson Armstrong or hit you in the back of the room like Dr. Anthony “Gabby” Carter.
He simply stays in key for the majority of a song.
But you ask, there are other artists who are just ok singers as well that do not generate the level of “chupsedom*” Rameses does. What is wrong with singing ok?
Well, that is a good question and the answer is that Caribbean audiences generally like singers that can woo them or those that can’t sing who make them laugh.
Rameses is neither.
2. Rameses has muscles.
This may seem like a strange one to put here as muscles are a good thing.
But for him
Rameses’ gym work seems to turn off guys who are haters and women who inevitably say:
“He feel he look good!”
Why this happens I am not too sure but this a music blog post not an anthropological one.
3. People have never forgiven Rameses for All Circuits Are Busy.
Rameses most popular hit was as catchy as it was hated. The song’s lyrics spoke about not being able to make a phone connection. Check it out below:
Due to the content and #4, many people hated the song. It didn’t help that Rameses went on to release several phone themed songs right after. A lot of people have never forgiven him for this with many unable to give him even the slightest forward.
4. Rameses has a nasal and light voice.
It has been shown that men with deeper voices tend to ascend the corporate ladder. A deep voice commands respect…
Rameses doesn’t have a deep voice.
He therefore sings with a nasal tenor voice which to many seems a little strange coming from a man his size.
5. Rameses doesn’t wuk up.
The wuk up dance is a big part of Soca music in Barbados.
Rameses doesn’t wuk up.
Instead, he stalks the stage like an itchy brown bear that is full of rhythm.
This lack of standard movement once again puts Rameses in the back of the love line.
The five reasons I have listed here are not held by every one of course. Rameses does have fans even though I have never met any. Personally, I think he is unfairly treated as haters let their biases as identified above cloud their judgement of his current work.
So people, stop giving Rameses blows and realize your bias. So next year my post would read:
Why everyone loves Rameses?
Every two years I teach Caribbean Music and Culture to students from the University of Delaware.
These sessions are a mixture of theory and practice. And when I say practice I mean practice.
Check this Bajan Dancehall session below led by the amazing Shameka Walters.
Isn’t this great?
This to me this is the gift of all Afro musics, the lived community!
Big shout out to Juanita Clarke on drums who also made this session happen.