With Trinidad & Tobago Carnival only a matter of weeks away, the amount of incredibly strong Soca tunes that are being unleashed currently would be exhausting if they weren’t all so damn exhilarating. The heavy influx of Afro Soca and RNB influenced Groovy Soca we had between summer and the end of last year has been trampled in the race for this year’s Road March (the most played song at Carnival), where undoubtedly the high-octane sound of Power Soca will be the ruling music of the celebrations. I look forwards to seeing which ones come out on top when I’m there this year.
Although things can always change last minute as Iwer George discovered last year (more about that in another post to come), most people’s smart money seems to be on a huge collaboration between the ruling giants of Trinidad Soca Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin, alongside Skinny Fabulous from St Vincent & the Grenadines (or Vincy as it’s often called) who has been relentlessly releasing some of the all time greatest Power tunes for the last few years. One stand out feature of the track that sets it apart from other Power tracks, most likely comes from the inclusion of top Dominican producer Krishna “DadaMuzic” Lawrence, who brings in elements from Dominica’s biggest musical export Bouyon (or perhaps Bouyon Soca is a more correct term to set it apart from the more traditional take on the term).
There have been increasing amounts of cross-pollination between the various Island styles and with Trinidad & Tobago being the main litmus test for global carnival hits it’s always taken note when artists there show any influences from outside the usual. Both Dennery Segment from St Lucia and Jab Jab from Grenada have been cropping up more and more and Machel has another tune out with Jacob of Guadeloupean band Kassav, those legendary pioneers of the ruling French Caribbean sound, Zouk. This season it seems Bouyon is the sound that is going to really start to break out of it’s home island. With Dominica’s carnival at the same time as T&T’s it makes total sense also.
We’ve been playing Bouyon artists on our weekly Super Soca Show radio slot since the very beginning and it’s worth listening back to show number 16 from back in October, where we go a little more in-depth into it’s artists and origins, but here’s a couple of the other crossover tunes out at the moment, both actually produced by St Lucian super producer, vocalist and all round entrepreneur Lashley ‘Motto’ Winter, who as well as being a pioneer of Dennery Segment, heads up one of the biggest Soca music labels, Team Foxx. He’s definitely been dabbling in a wide assortment of sounds this season and this particular one suits him very well indeed.
As well as having my current favourite for this year’s Soca Monarch title, Patrice Roberts on the riddim (I intend to do a round up of all her 2019 tunes soon, there’s plenty and they’re all great – I’ll include her version of this riddim then), Motto has jumped on the track himself alongside the ‘Bouyon Boss’ Asa Bantan, undoubtedly one of Dominica’s most popular artists. There’s also an appearance here from WCK playing the conch shell, an instrument consistent with both Bouyon and Jab Jab. WCK were one of the original pioneering Bouyon bands back in the 1980s, alongside Triple Kay so it’s a savvy nod of respect to include them here. You can download the whole ‘Simon Says’ riddim here.
Machel Montano is Soca’s biggest artist, so when he steps onto a Bouyon vibe twice in a season you know people are going to take notice of that. Motto gives a nod to WCK once again, this time using an accordion sample from one of their tracks. This is more of a traditional take, the accordion being an important component in it’s roots, drawn in from Dominica’s traditional Jing Ping folk music. Although it seems many newer artists have started to phase it out, or at least use it in a less obvious way, the accordion is still very much a part of Bouyon and it lends an authentic feel to this one.
I’m sure there will be more to come, but if you’re feeling the sound then Dominica has it’s own host of great acts such as P.G. Goons, Keks Mafia, Fetty Mark, DeLuxe and of course Asa Bantan and Triple Kay.