Can the French-adopted culture of Carnival be salvaged?

by Brian Joseph

Grenada’s French-adopted culture of carnival is slowly dwindling in the twilight, the things that were unique us especially our African culture, the customs, the practices that we once truly embraced as ours is totally gone.

The French-adopted version of carnival celebrations has now become a showcase of “vulgarity and nudeness.” I can’t believe that’s the low standard or level our French-adopted culture of carnival has been reduced to. It’s disheartening seeing how cultural and social change has transformed culture into lawlessness.

Attending carnival as a child was an enjoyable occasion. I can vividly remember the memorable days “when culture was culture” and we really appreciated what we had to showcase as a nation. Now today questions keep coming to my mind, where we went wrong? I’m often doing soul searching, asking where has the dog mas, mud mas, wild indians, fancy sailors, and dancing to sweet steel pan music gone?

We have truly lost so many of our traditions that truly made carnival what it was for our people. I know many folks will say “this is a new generation and things have changed” but are we willing to forfeit our culture and traditions? For a generation that has little or no respect, for the things, we value as our cultural heritage. The very culture that shaped and makes us who we are as a nation and as a people.

I am not holding any grudges against anyone, but it is heartbreaking to see how we have allowed the whole cultural structure to crumble. The whole essence of it has faded, and it continues to die a sad, miserable death.

Moral values and standard have fallen to the lowest level and it continues to do so at a drastic rate. The most important question here is why have we allowed this to happen?

The standards in calypso and soca music here in Grenada have become deplorable. It’s like no one is taking the time to write proper lyrics anymore and what makes it even worse the folks that arrange these songs are not making it better. Because instead of improving and trying to give these artists international standards, they’re just taking their monies and producing crappy music for the market which are unfit to the ear and for consumers.

These arrangers called themselves pioneers and icons in the music industry; that’s just disgraceful. I am no expert in English language, but these songs and their lyrical content are just terrible.

The thing that bothers me the most about these songs is its always about some woman’s anatomy or genital parts. What makes it even more disgusting, is these women come out to the various soca events and dance like they want to make a baby to those degrading songs displaying some of their best behaviours. How can any woman allow themselves to be disrespected in such vulgar ways yet support these artists? Any man that does that has no respect for his mother, wife and women in general.

I think the various women’s organisations should stand up against it until something better can be produced. Time to make sure that this kind of lyrical content does not hit the airways. I think the calypso association, (SMC) Spicemas Corporation and other bodies or associations should do something to lift the standards of music here in Grenada. Because there is “too much crap on the radio that’s getting too much airtime.” I say this with no apology this is what I called constructive criticism.  If you’re an artist, writer or arranger please take our music to another level. I believe in giving everyone a fair chance to showcase what he/she can do, in a talented way. But please, if you’re going to do something for the art form take your time and write a proper soca or calypso that you can be proud of, likewise the persons listening to it. Let them say “yes that is music with great lyrical content well put together.” Do you know how proud you will be, how proud you will feel hearing those uplifting words? You will be inspired to do even a better job next time around.

Let’s write to inspire, let’s sing to motivate and educate others through soca, calypso, political and social commentary.

I do support the young artist but we need more leadership from the stalwarts and the veterans calypsonians. Let’s teach the young folks some of the tricks from books that we’ve have long read from. It’s important because our standard has fallen badly. I’m of the opinion and I strongly believe Grenada has the lowest standards in music when it comes to lyrical content. We have to always remember that we cannot always write how we speak: the colloquial country or town twang. Whenever a song or album is being produced, you’ve to always think about producing for the international market.

That market demands better standards therefore you never know when fame will befall you as an artist, the privilege might be yours to represent your country abroad regionally or internationally. So you must be prepared at all times. A word from the wise “please pull up on your socks” and don’t say I can’t but rather say I can. Say to yourself; I got what it takes to bring out the champion in me. Tell yourself and others in the music industry we need clean lyrics, international standards and you will see how far it shall take you.

It’s time to think outside of the box and look beyond the horizon and take Grenada’s culture its music further than hope itself. I must say kudos to artist “Lil Vaughn” affectionately known in music industry whose real name is Jevaughn John for the bold step he took in partnering with Spice Concoction a few years ago, to develop his entertainment service. Congratulations. It’s a great move from being an amateur to becoming a professional. As the old saying goes “you hit the nail right on the head.” You have now secured a sound future in the music industry. I listened to you being interviewed and I must say you are a “well-spoken young man” and you are very knowledgeable enough to know what you are out to achieve from the music industry. Many successes to you and congrats. I wish many others can follow in his footsteps to take the music industry higher.

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