The Only Remedy for Carnival Fever
This is a 45 min concert piece of Machel Montano and the full Xtatic band from 1996 broadcasted on Trinidad & Tobago Television.
Here are two more examples of vibrant power soca, by Superblue and Blaxx. Both artists contributed a lot of hit records.
Soca goes Global
One of the latest trends in afro soca is a response by Caribbean artists and producers to the rise of afrobeats. The first recorded productions were in 2014 by Machel Montano and Nigerian singer Timaya collaborating. In 2015 Olatunji Yearwood won the Soca Monarch respectively with his „Ola“ on the „Kan Kan Riddim“. The music video was recorded in South Africa. Enjoy the vibes!
For many soca lovers worldwide, Machel Montano is the undisputed king, which has been an effective messenger for the genre since he started to perform in 1986 at the age of 7 with traditional calypso compositions. With the help of his family, including the management of both of his parents, his career would guide him across the world, promoting soca on an international scale and collaborating with a lot of popular artists, like Shaggy, Sean Paul, and Wyclef Jean.
This brought soca a lot of new listeners, even though his popularity never crossed mainstream music directly. While looking back on his career, they collectively were working day and night in hopes to come up with something that they could identify with as young men in Trinidad and Tobago.
This musical era involved a transformation of the audience in terms of age group (younger people), class (including people from the higher society), outreach (presenting it to new audiences), and look (greater emphasis on wearing sexy clothes or on exhibiting sexiness). For Machel Montano, changing perspectives on traditional ideas of originality has also involved learning about new instrumental techniques and studio technology (including sampling and turntable effects). Montano’s particular way of thinking about lyrics and dancing out of his perspective as a composer, as well as producer and consumer, in all cases is an embodied experience. In the meantime, he celebrated his wedding gracefully, in an extravagant style close to his popular „Machel Monday“ celebration.
Fete after Fete
International soca events have been emerging in every European country. Groups of soca lovers, calling themselves the ‚Dutch Soca Lovers‘ or the ‚Swiss Soca Crew‘ create communities to travel together to events and have a good time. For more than 50 years Notting Hill Carnival is the forerunner of the diaspora carnival. Since then the events are expanding in Europe, and also in London (UK), soca events on monthly events can have more than 200 visitors. Hubs like Berlin and Zoomer Carnival (Rotterdam, Netherlands) brought soca lovers together until today. I wrote an article about the European soca movement in 2015 and published it together with a mixtape showcasing the artists, all of them inspired by the legacy of soca with its origin in Trinidad and Tobago.
Here is a vibrant performance by Bunji Garlin for you, recorded in 2018. Enjoy this massive crowd!
Nowadays it is not easy to find great pieces of live recordings for soca music. Too many artists decide to get backed by DJs, playing the original track during their live performance. In a way, they are moving from the rhole of a singer to the MC of their own track. It is something discussible, still, there are fantastic examples of pure talent.
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Jocelyne Guibault (2007): Governing Sound – The cultural politics of Trinidad’s Carnival Music
University of Chicago, Ian Randle Publishers
Gerard Besson (2011): Calypso, Calypso Music
BBC (2017): The surprising politics of Calypso
Yvonne Web (2012): Trinidad Guardian – History through the eyes of Calypsonians
Jesse Server (2017): The Rise of Soca
Ronald C. Emrit: Calypso History
Calypsoworld.org: Calypso in Trinidad – Carnival and Musical Traditions
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