Monitoring the Progress of Our Soca Bards

By Arley Gill

It is the beginning of the Carnival cycle again with February mas’ in the Mecca — Trinidad and Tobago; and also much smaller Carnivals in Dominica and Carriacou. These Carnivals mark the commencement for the year of what I refer to as the “Trini-style Carnivals’’ around the world.

For the full-time lovers of Carnival most of us will be finalizing arrangements to get our Carnival experience for 2015 going. I am strategically located, so I don’t have any serious planning to do; I am already in the full swing of things. ‎

What is occupying a lot of my time is following up on the progress of our Soca artistes from Grenada; scanning the news, searching the World Wide Web, trying to find any bit of information on how they are doing, especially in Trinidad.

Last year Hollice Mapp — Mr Killa — had arguably the biggest Soca song, “Rolly Polly’’. He enjoyed a hugely successful season, placing second in the International Soca Monarch. This year, he does not have such a monstrous hit; but, he’s in the semis of this year’s Power Soca Monarch. His “Bacchanal’’ is a beautifully constructed song.

“Bacchanal’’ was recently released, just in time for Trinidad’s Carnival. He released it along with a few others, namely “Panty Dropper’’ and “Fever’’. It appears as if Mr Killa’s focus is the Trinidad market; that apparent strategy is rather curious though, considering that songs from outside Trinidad have a much longer “gestation’’ period to hit the Trinidad Soca market than the songs from Trinidad and sung by Trinidadians. By that I mean, the songs from Grenada that have made it big in Trinidad, usually are released for Grenada Carnival in the preceding year.

These August Spicemas Grenada songs, then hit New York for Labour Day in September, which acts like the approval centre for big Soca songs from the Caribbean region. It seems as though when New York says, it’s good, then it’s good. All the major Soca hits from Grenada have followed this pattern.

Killa’s “Bacchanal’’ is a wonderful Power Soca Monarch tune; much better suited, in my opinion, to the Power Soca Monarch competition than “Rolly Polly’’. But, overall, I don’t expect Killa to do as well this year as did in 2014, since the judging is not so much about criteria as it is about the “size’’ of the hit.

In “Panty Dropper’’, ‎Killa returns to his humorous and provocative self; and this song, “Panty Dropper’’, is one I believe will tickle the fancy of the ladies once again.

Skinny Banton makes his foray into Trinidad competition with his well-known “Saltfish’’, a hit song. But, he will need to improve his on-stage performance if he is to create a bigger impact and make the final of the International Soca Monarch.

Tallpree is in the groovy semifinal. He’s now a regular in that arena and is more than capable of handling himself. Andrew ‘Hitz’ Phillip — who is better known as a producer — is in the Power Soca semis. We wish him all the best. He knows what is required on the Trinidad stage. Our triple and reigning Soca Monarchs are in the semis as well. However, in Trinidad, you need to have a popular song as an outsider to stand any chance of winning. I am sure they will represent us well.

The Vincentian, Skinny Fabulous, has established himself as a first-class Soca writer and performer and I am thoroughly impressed with his development. He is a top-notch performer that all Windward Islanders should be proud of.

However, the Soca artiste undoubtedly enjoying one of the best seasons is Lavaman. Whilst his songs are not big in Trinidad, he has been performing — ever since Grenada’s Carnival last August — all throughout the Soca circuit and receiving rave reviews.

Lava’s “Nah Change That’’ is one of the biggest Soca songs and it is enjoying good rotation throughout the region. Lavaman is creating a stir. His music is irresistible and he makes one want to party.

Lavaman’s lyrical construct is hilarious, witty, relevant and just simply amazing. He is a dynamic performer — and master of the dance hall.

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