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Let’s move away from ‘drinking, getting on bad’ Soca music

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Editor: Vincy Mas is soon approaching, so I thought I’d share some tips for those thinking about writing/singing a Soca song along the following lines, instead of the usual jump and wave or drunk themes.

Everyone can relate to relationships, whether it’s about how happy a girl makes a guy, or the complete opposite, I mean, who can’t relate to hearing a song about relationships? Everyone – from teenager to grandmother (and even pre-teen now, with the current climate of the world) – has probably had a relationship, whether good or bad.{{more}} Not to mention that in other genres like R&B, Jazz, Rock and Pop, some of the hugest songs are either love songs, or deal with relationships.

Because of the first-hand experience, such a topic can give you a long-lasting song. Bomani’s contribution of the vintage Soca song “Woman Gone, Woman Dey” has earned him much more respect in the Calypso/Soca arena. This is one artiste who proves time and again his versatility and the fact that he can actually sing. Back to the subject at hand, it is songs like these that can be played year round on the radio. The objective of every artiste should not just to obtain some hype or fame during the carnival season, but to affiliate some longevity to one’s product.

In my opinion, art imitates life. No matter who we are, we’re bound to find one piece of art that is relatable as a song about personal experiences, even if it’s nonsensical. Fireman seems to have perfected this art with last year’s “Rum Meeting,” which gives a thorough outline of a rum drinking experience, making it a rum drinkers’ anthem for years to come, I envision. The song also gripped listeners with its infectious chipping beat, which inevitably owned its spot as a Road March contender. I am eagerly anticipating Fireman’s release this year, as he effortlessly translates his unmatched energy that literally moves an entire crowd.

Music is the ultimate culmination of that, because, through words, it offers listeners a direct link between someone’s familiarities and possibly their own. That’s why a song like “Fettologist” reached the popularity it did last year. Who West Indian doesn’t love to fete? Although it may not have gained as much popularity, I can see Zoelah’s “Sell Off” remixed with a hip hop fusion. Her already smooth vocals, elastic range and compelling attitude add to the feel good aura one gets as they get lost in this “chune”.

I’m sure that we can all agree that soca is fast paced and repetitive, but that did not deter newcomer Madskull from making his presence noticed with his rendition “Family”. If you never thought that carnival can be enjoyed by the entire family, then this was the song to jump with your real friends and close relatives.

A club banger – This is actually already happening in Soca, although we’ve dubbed it a new genre – Island Pop (subject to correction). In Rap and Pop, it’s an easy formula to have a club banger – a heavy bass line, a catchy (and preferably repetitive hook… like “Yuh Feel You Bad”), and lyrics about things related to going to the club (getting ready, how you dress, what drinks you’ll have, how and who you’ll dance on, making references to what the DJ will do, and to other club bangers, etc).

Skinny Fabulous’ “Like No Tomorrow” was well tailored, with subtle vocal tones paired with classical piano notes that easily make it an every Friday/ weekend theme for partiers. Not only does the song focus on having a grand time, but it somehow invokes an appreciation for life and living today to its fullest in whatever way you may perceive.

It’s about high time our artistes consistently raise the bar each carnival season, not just for their individual benefit, but more so to make an even greater impression on the region and international scene. The last two years have shown that the Soca is not limited to the West Indies as Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin have been flying the Trinidad flag and making strides on the international music stage.

This piece would not serve its justice if I did not commend Skarpyon with “Raw Curry” for challenging himself each year by expressing his vocal versatility. We need more artistes like him who can make testament of their work that Soca artistes can indeed sing more than getting drunk or behaving bad all the time. If there are more songs like Fryktion’s “Soca Man”, and Skinny Fabulous’ “Mental Home”, not only would we hear more local Soca on the airwaves but inevitably contribute towards lifting the standard of Vincy Soca. The onus is now on all music producers, singers/vocalists and musicians to satisfy our Soca palate, as they take Vincy Soca forward for 2015 and beyond.

All the best and drop de tune dem!

Kenrife Matthias

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