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New generation of soca artistes should not be underestimated

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The Ragga soca and Soca monarch semi-finals, dubbed ‘Boarding Pass,’ were successfully staged last Saturday night at the decommissioned ET Joshua Airport.

Other than the tremendous entertainment value of these high energy events, it is pleasing to note the emergence of a new generation of soca artistes, many of whom were inspired and drawn into the artform by big brothers Delroy ‘Fireman’ Hooper and Gamal ‘Skinny Fabulous’ Doyle who, for almost 15 years, totally dominated the soca arena in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

Skinny has bowed out of competition for now, but Fireman’s flame is burning as brightly as ever and he stands a very good chance of taking home at least one of the two crowns, come Saturday, July 8, if the crowd’s response to his performances last Saturday is anything to go by.

But the new generation of artistes should not be underestimated, as the crowns are theirs for the taking. Last year, newcomer Chewalee, with his infectious song “Rumist,” took home the Ragga Soca crown in his debut year in the soca industry. Similarly, Shane ‘Hypa 4000’ Husbands wrecked the Victoria Park with “No Behaviour,” en route to the Soca Monarch title, being the first person in over a decade to be crowned Soca Monarch who was not Skinny or Fireman.

The 50 acts who took part in the two segments of the semi-finals included many who only came on the scene in the last few years. Acts like ‘L Pank’, ‘Keke’, ‘Wyz Skid’, ‘Kaviedes’, ‘Flanka’, ‘Naphtali, ‘Prime Time’, ‘Grabba Finnesse’ have only been on the scene for a year or two, but they have brought to the local soca and ragga soca industry a fresh vibrancy which is welcomed. Included among those relatively new acts is Dynamite, who dropped out of the Ragga Soca semis, but not before making a name for himself this Carnival season with his hit ‘Brave,’ with its catchy tagline “Ra ta ta tey tan te ta”.

Other artistes who have been around for a little while, like Royal, Rus-T, Shanel and Alla-G, gave good accounts of themselves last Saturday.

Shaunelle McKenzie and Hance John, though young, cannot be considered among the new generation, they having come through the junior competitions and therefore have been around for quite some time. Their experience shows in their professionalism and versatility, with Hance in particular coming out strong this year, especially in the Ragga Soca competition.

And of course, there are the other veterans in the persons of Fya Empress and Skarpyon, both of whom, having previously taken home the Ragga Soca crown, know how to do it again.

This all makes for an entertaining Ragga Soca and Soca Monarch final, come July 8 at the Victoria Park.

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