Soca: Soul Calypso
Soca music's vibes are intoxicating and its rhythms soothing, smoothing over your nerves like milk and sweet fruity drinks; add any other aphrodisiac, say, alcohol, laughter, etc., and then you're on a roll, with buoying flavors of rhythm and prose to compose and to console as you would need—and you’re in Heaven for as long as you can maintain its vibe.
Given that in 2021, milk and alcohol are essential services, laughter is all you have to truly supply—I am here to declare to you that Heaven is here via two very good soca albums found on Apple Music: Soca Universe 2020 and Fox Fuse’s Get Soca 2019. I run these two albums all of the time, their rhythms enlivening my days and nights with breaths of freedom, endless air, and invigorating energy for miles on end.
evolved from the ska/reggae era and its melodies span all of the Caribbean, with Latin, soul, funk, and dialect as engaging influencers. These influences make soca so melodious and charming, as the bounce offered by the combination of powerful rhythms is innocuously provocative of hips shaking, feet moving, height-climbing, and an overall raving vibe.
Not to mention the songwriters’ cheeky personas, which always make me giggle as an adult — as a child, their double entendres always went over my head — which is why soca can be good for all ages, as there is an energy for youth and laughter for adults ingeniously intertwined. I cannot count the endless ways that men and women continue to make each other drive and thrive in life and I am often distracted by this fact, that these two genders are responsible for so much commotion on earth.
The singing is phenomenal on both albums, as socan royalties and newbies alike show their class and production agendas with style and impressive pizzazz. These are two very well-composed albums and I was impressed with the variety of tracks that displayed vocal range, energy, and originality, and there were even excellent crossover beams.
These tracks had me dancing, thinking, and reflecting on the messages sometimes clearly delineated in this good music that is intended to cause us to uplift ourselves. I was impressed with the storytelling on Bunji Garlin’s "The Struggle," which was interesting for someone like myself who did not grow up in his era and who is still discovering soca. Soca’s ballads are sexy, and the duets reminiscent of R&B from the eighties and nineties, which is nice.
It is safe to say that soca is steadily holding it down when it comes to love music; on Soca Universe 2020, tracks like "Dear Promoter" by Voice & Kes, "Captain" by Hey Choppi, "Feel the Love" by Freetown Collective & DJ Private Ryan, "Gimme D’ Road" by Calypso Rose featuring Destra, "Slow Wine" by Machel Montano, "West Indian" by Alison Hinds, "I Love You" by Machel Montano, and "No Tomorrow" by Kerwin DuBois & Adana Roberts are all enjoyable for their stellar musicality. "Oil Drum," "Rum and Soca," and "Hold On" are also favorites, along with "Splash," "Stage Gone Bad," and "X Games." With this list, I still have not covered all the tracks of the album, which comes in at thirty songs. The rest of them are good too, which convinces me that there is no such thing as bad soca music.
On Get Soca 2019, "Alive and Well" opens the album beautifully, sounding so melodious it could be the only track you listen to for several hours and still want to hear it again. "Blaze in Love" is sweet, and Nadia Bastion’s "So Long" is as Trinidadian as doubles and aloo pie — and it makes me giggle for the many colloquial, West Indian phrases that fit so perfectly together in this song.
"Gyal Owner" is funny, and Patrice Roberts, Farmer Nappy, and Nailah Blackman round out the early part of this album with stellar tracks. It continues on powerfully, with "Iron Love," "Tombstone," "Party We Love," "Trouble in the Morning," and "Wining Challenge." Finishing with twenty-one tracks, it is a formative companion to the first album, which is a more current album. It speaks to the talk that soca is on the rise and as I give in to this belief, I am humbled by soca's heritage, as it is mine. I do feel like voices like mine belong at the forefront of American culture as this vast land has been calling for the kind of knowledge that I, and many West Indians, would like to give.
Soca music is godly music, as it pertains to life, vitality, knowledge, skill, and more. As I reflect on its message and the current political climate in America, I recognize that America's exports to the world have come a-calling a few ways in this current century: via a wild and plainspoken people who are talking back via their music and other ways, a wild former president who has spent the last four years enraging them, and an unfailing massive of immigrants pummeling the south border with their presence; all of these are concurrent in our realm and I do not think it is by accident. Recently, border crossings by undocumented migrants in March hit a 12-year high
, which is not something to ignore. There are also reports of child migrants crossing at a higher pace
, indicating an obvious nexus where need has reached possible manipulation or the need is indeed that
great, and people's hope of salvation is again stimulated by President Biden's obviously compassionate mien.
As I introduce you to soca music, it would be remiss not to point out the living conditions that give rise to such popular music. As foreigners and locals alike give us good music, their entire purpose in making music is to send us a message, and keen ears would find that they all decry poverty, classism, greed, and all of the apples that fall from the tree that keeps humanity in shambles.
As foreigners and locals alike give us good music, their entire purpose in making the music is to send us a message, and keen ears would find that they all decry poverty, classism, greed, and all of the apples that fall from the tree that keeps humanity in shambles.
I know that it is a better strategy for the whole world to step in to save immigrants rather than this one country, and my argument is always about the U.S. supporting its own beliefs at home and abroad, which is the fated, next solution, so I expect that the compassionate stance that the U.S. has adopted at home to extend itself to even these marginalized countries — especially the ones that have been pushed to be brink by the United States' bullying (think Brazil, Mexico).
In the past, the United States was guilty of a lot — and it is possible, a whole lot, as we don't always know the full story, given the scope of the U.S.' power. It is my simple, sensible extrapolation that your behavior is your constant — racist and prejudiced policies at home most definitely leads to the same policies abroad, as a dog is a dog anywhere, and even more so when it is the top dog. I say this to highlight the fact that the United States is very influential, and our ability to change the world for good is sure, and therefore, it ought to be swift.
Today, I see the world advancing quickly, as the cowards continue to be silenced and common sense holds sway over leadership. We save lives, we save money when we consider the needs of everyone and act swiftly with good faith. Too much time has been wasted on useless debates and those across the way who are wild and seeming to be enjoying themselves a little too much are tuned in and pruned for vicious ways.
We save lives, we save money when we consider the needs of everyone and act swiftly with good faith.
While soca is about joying indeed, it is the fierce joy of Jah and His children, and indeed it is their wrath also. Just listen to Bunji Garlin's "The Struggle"; it is indeed the struggle of Black people: harrowing conditions build souls that are wild, spirited, gifted, and ready for any sort of foolishness. These are people who are tired of certain living conditions. People are tired of the prejudice and racist policies that are keeping them in these situations.
As the Bible predicted, the meek are in firm control of the nation. President Biden's victory proves such, as these are the people who are fierce in anger — righteous anger — and they have history on their side.
As people search for the next big thing that gives them life, I firmly proclaim the art of the West Indies as a good place to start. Especially our soca music, as it is a combination of several intoxicating spices, sun, sea, and salt. Vibes!