Music for the mas

Essiba Small surveys the soca scene for possible winners in the Road March race and on the party circuit for Trinidad & Tobago Carnival...

  • Destra
  • Bunji Garlin
  • Faye-Ann Lyons


She’s been in the junior calypso arena since she was nine. Now 18, former Junior Calypso Monarch Megan Walrond is hitting the soca playground to play with the big gals and guys. “Trailer Bumper” is her 2011 offering.

Singing DJs Shal Marshall and Super Jigga TC have put out “3D Wine” featuring Swappi and “Confidence”,  featuring Nebula 868, respectively.

Erphaan Alves has released “All Over Me”. Singer/songwriter Stephan Abraham, known in the industry for the last three years as Kuttit, offers the danceable “After the Fete”, and Umi Marcano sings about the “Naughty Shortie”.

A taste of chutney soca

Current Chutney Soca Monarch Ravi B delivers again with the laid-back “Player”, “Samatee” with Terry Gaj and “Budoww”, in which he duets with his sister Nisha.

Not to be left out is Elvis impersonator Soca Elvis with “Doubles and Roti”.

Other chutney soca tracks are Hunter’s “Sumatie Daughter”, SW Storm/Ravi B’s “By the Ba” and Mr Mackie /Rishi Ram’s techno-flavoured “Deewana Main Chala”.


Caribbean imports

What’s T&T Carnival without them? Over the years Bajan-bred Alison Hinds has won hearts in Trinidad & Tobago with her energetic participation in the festival. This year she turns out “I Want to Wine”,  a chutney-infused song in which she expresses her desire to wine on an Indian man. “Soca Queen” and “Makelele” are her other songs.

As is customary, you can expect some of the successful Crop Over 2010 songs to cross over. Look out for “Christening” by Eddie Yearwood, Lil Rick’s “Go Dung”, and TC (Terencia Cox)’s “Duttiness”, Grenadian Tallpree, who some years ago made a successful debut in the Carnival with “Old Woman Alone”,  has put out “Drunk Man” for the season.

Guyana is represented by Juno Primo (“Push that Bumper”) and Vanilla (“Party Can’t Done”). And from St Vincent comes no less than the current Road March winner Maddzart, with “King Road”.

Riding the riddem

Another staple of the Carnival is the riddem – catchy backing tracks used by more than one singer. For 2011 there are several.

On the Girl Scout riddem you’ll hear Nadia Batson (“Admiring Me”), Alison Hinds (“Soca Queen”), and Patrice Roberts (“Jack it Up”).

Artists on the Massanto riddem include Ms Alysha (“Wine It”), Natalie Storm (“Nuh Watch Me”) and Romain Virgo (“She Want it More”).

Others include the Gyal In Front Ah Meh, Makelele, Mango Seed, Swahili, Gre, Kis, Mesmerising Wine, Avenue 1 and Honey Bottle riddems.


The veterans

Leading the pack is her royal highness, queen of calypso, Calypso Rose, with the track “Feel Like Dancing”.

Machel Montano, who sat out Carnival 2010 (though he still released tracks last year), signalled a return to the festival with “Coming Again”, from his album aptly titled The Return. The song was written and produced by Dwain “Dwaingeous” Antrobus and Montano.

Also returning to the fray is Destra Garcia, who also skipped last year’s festival to concentrate on her pregnancy.  Back with a new image and a whole lot of attitude, the new mom has put out the groovy soca “Cool it Down”, produced by De Red Boyz out of Barbados, “I Feel Like Wukking”,  and the scorcher “Proppa”, produced by Chris Allman for Barbados Crop Over last year. She’s always been a bridesmaid but never a Road March bride, so it will be interesting to see if “Proppa” can win Destra the road this year.

Set to run the Road March race too is Shurwayne Winchester, current International Groovy Soca Monarch, with “Paparazzi”. His groovy soca offering is “Paradisin’”.

Nadia Batson, who took in ill for the latter part of last Carnival, returns with another road contender, “My Time”.

Listen out for Bunji Garlin’s “De African”, “Obeah”, “Change Me”, “Party Cyar Done” – a duet with Problem Child –and KMC’s “Wine Gyal”.

Rikki Jai, who has long featured large on the musical landscape with his mixture of chutney and soca, tackles the country’s social ills with his political commentary, cleverly wrapped up in a Bollywood-type song, “High High”.

Anslem Douglas, who won a Grammy award for writing “Who Let the Dogs Out”, seems to have an on again/off again approach to Carnival. He is on again this time around, with a ditty called “Gold Digger”.

And Ronnie Mc Intosh, once a Soca Monarch, shows he’s not too old to tangle with the young ones with the jumpy “Fly”.


Funding provided by the 11th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme Direct Support Grants Programme.
The views expressed on this website are those of the the authors and do not reflect those of the Direct Support Grants Programme.