By Arley Gill
“When we touch down, the whole place shell down, …when you see us J’ouvert morning all we do is chip chip…’’, lyrics from Bigred and Melo, featuring KC and Stout. This latest hit song is coming from Carriacou, where it was released for Carriacou carnival 2015. It follows on the heels of Skinny Banton’s, “Soak it Good’’, which did remarkably well in the soca world and opened up many doors for Banton. This teaches us some lessons about the music.
It teaches us that good music and big songs can come from small places and from unknown artistes. A good song is a good song, especially now with available technology to publish music globally.
It also teaches us that, there is no season for good music and that good music “lasts’’. The traditional view around carnival time is for calypsonians to hold back songs for late in the season, to create impact. That traditional approach is now spent with regards to relevance; if the music is good and there is good performance, it will create impact; regardless of when it is released.
It goes without saying, that one of the major lessons to be learnt is that talent is not confined to any one place or with any one people. I want to believe that Kirani James has destroyed that thought, wherever it existed. So, young men from Petite Martinique or Carriacou can produce big songs. I was attempted to say Grand Roy with the massive hit from Mr Kanah this year and his beautifully constructed song, “Joggers V Leggings’’. But, then, Grand Roy has produced the best in Slinger Francisco – the Mighty Sparrow – and other recording artistes of note.
It is really heartening to hear the quality of work produced by the young and upcoming soca artistes. Filani Jeffrey, “The Young Stunner’’, represented himself well in Trinidad earlier this year. And, while I have not heard him as yet for this year’s Grenada carnival, I am certain that he — along with the other artiste at the school level – will continue to grow.
I am sure that inspiration and motivation would of come from Tallpree, Mr Killa and Lava — all of whom, in recent times — have been doing well on the soca circuit; and so, too, have been the godfathers of year to year — the likes of Ajamu and Inspector.
I would like to urge our radio broadcasters and DJs to give our young artistes some special treatment this year by playing their music regularly; and especially during peak time and not only when people have gone to bed. I am not asking to compromise the quality of their shows as I believe that you will know quality when you hear it. In other words, let good songs rise to the top and not just artistes who are known but whose songs may be weak. Let us give the young artistes a fair chance to be heard.
Then, there are the seasonal “managers’’. Around this time of year there are more “managers’’ than artistes. Some, who really do not have a clue of the music and entertainment industry, proclaim themselves as managers and look to grab any young singer who happens to have a tune that people like. Needless to say, by the end of the season, they are no longer managers and the singer is left without any guidance until the next season. When next season comes, if he does not have a good song, the manager of last season moves on to “fresh blood’’.
I know that there are serious persons offering themselves and their services to manage and guide artistes and that must be applauded. I see the organisation and the seriousness of Mr Angus Steele, for instance; I applaud his efforts.
The flip side of the coin is the artiste who does not know what is management and, as such, he is unmanageable. Once their song is doing well, they have a new manager every week, although they make all their decisions themselves and effectively managing themselves. They accept no advice; or, they have so many advisors, they end up making all the wrong decisions.
The business of music is a serious industry. It is one of the biggest in the world. Soca music is only a small part of it, but it can generate good revenue for those involved — if managed effectively. Therefore, persons who are desirous of getting involved need to study the business by appreciating the applicable laws, marketing, industry trends and the different areas that touch and concern the business. One may never know everything; but, at least, you need to know who to ask.
I wish all of our young performers well this season. I hope that they grow from strength to strength.