|The FLOGG says: "Thank you, Gros Islet, for the inspiration."|
It was Gros Islet Carnival weekend.
The FLOGG was there and got some ideas. Sexy fat girls in sequins and bad bikinis sure are inspirational. They should have more of those in church. You would see fellas get baptized.
|You're quite inspiring, as well.|
The music at Gros Islet Carnival was not just current music or local music, it was new generation classic Caribbean soca dance music. Soca has changed the face of Carnival over the last decade and a half. While the Calypso Crown is still the most presitigious crown of all, the Soca Monarch and Groovy Monarch shows are the fastest growing in popularity. It’s only a matter of time before the Soca Monarch is considered the King of All Carnival.
Before this new generation of soca artists, producers and other innovators arrived on the scene, Carnival was ruled by the calypso giants.
Pep, Invader, Ashanti, Educator, blah, blah, blah.
In the two decades after the Long Reign of The Great King Pelay (as opposed to his last reign) those four King-Kings and their writers dominated both the Calypso Arena and the Road. Great lyricists and performers like Cheryl, boo, Herb Black, Lord Help Me, Lady Lynn and others competed, not to win, but to climb the rungs of runner-up-ship.
Then, in the late 90s, along came the new generation. Lady Spice did some time as a second-runner-up the neo-nascent soca arena as a sexy ghetto thing, and then, bowled over the Calypso Arena with her voice and performance style. Bachelor, in his first outing, announced that the domination of the four King-Kings was over and that from now on they would have to fight him for the crown. An era was over and a new one had begun.
|All this and spaced teeth, too|
The 21st century has not been kind to kaiso. But as soca continues to descend into the morasse of pornographic and aerobic instructional lyrics that took over from clever sexual innuendo in the 80s and 90s, kaiso continues to be the most lyrical, most truthful, most conscious form of music in the Eastern Caribbean.
Hell, the way reggae is acting, kaiso is now the sole of voice of conscience in popular Caribbean music. (Think about it. The reigning Bob Marley of this generation is Vybz Cartel.)
In St Lucia, soca has lured young people back into Caribbean and that is often mistaken for a soca takeover and the extinction of kaiso. Never happen.
With that said, The FLOGG now has the pleasure and privilege to present the defenders of the throne, the new lyrical ninjas, the social conscience and slow wine masters of the 21st century, St Lucians knights, princes, princes, kings and queens of kaiso. Oh, the majesty is too much. Here they are.
|"Finally, somebody who really gets my music!"|
TC Brown: The Innovator. When he first came out, his music was so innovative, that many complained that it was hardly kaiso at all. You could wine your waist to his music if you wanted, but TC Brown’s songs were built so that you could also snap your fingers or tap your toes if you were not a qualified waist-winer. You could hear so many things in his brand of 21st century kaiso. Tin Pan Alley. Frank Sinatra. Motown. Elvis, baby. T,C Brown is a pop music aficionado and like a right thinking 21st century St Lucian, he takes everything he knows, EVERYTHING, and squeezes it into each song. Where other songwriters and musicians focus on giving the songs what they need, TC seems to bring all his influences to bear on each and every song, taking out only what the song doesn’t need.
|"I'm shy. But I'll call you."|
Bachelor: The Composed Composer. First King of the new breed. Humble, composed. The kind of guy who is an accidental lady-killer. More importantly, he is one of the most serious, high minded and important St Lucian musical artists of any generation. He’s a kind of kaiso Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, who writes the songs with an acoustic guitar and then, against his better judgment, writes in parts for drums, keyboards, bass and horns. Jason Joseph is one of the few music writers who doesn’t seem to work with a formula (or set of formulae). His arrangements tend to be somewhat unpredictable, even though by his song structures, you can tell he’s writing most of them on guitar, instead of keyboard, just the Lion and Kitch and them kinda felluz. Bachelor’s music also betrays/confesses more about the artist than any other songwriter in the field. You can actually tell from how he performs a song how he feels about his own music that year. When he addresses wider social issues, it is most often in the context of some experience he had. You don’t even want to think about how much of his songwriting is autobiographical. You don’t even want to think about how much of his songwriting is autobiographical. Very personal stuff. At least it seems that way. If he’s faking it, hats off to him, that is the best artistic fake-out on the market today.
Minelle: The New Ashanti. Hell, she’s the new Sessene, if she wants it. She has that old time magic. That presence. That voice of the folk. That personal rhythm that instinctively syncs up with the pulse of the people. And she has the silent, smiling legend, Nahum ‘Happy’ JnBaptiste, writing lyrics for her all year round. The two of them are like a precision guided nuclear powered musical weapon that almost no one else can withstand. Hence her recent domination of the Calypso Crown. Minelle has a kind of modern Chatwelle vibe that allows her to connect with the most St Lucian part of her audience before she even starts singing, making Happy’s sometimes narrative and intellectual lyrics into an interaction between audience rather the big Trini-style spectacle that everyone else is intent on doing.
|"I give y'all a break. But don't forget, I own this shit!"|
Lady Spice: The Random Spoiler. What happen to that girl? She’s radioactive. A nuclear diva, shining in the dark, so heavy that the light she gives off destroys everything in its path. She’s not just a singer, she’s a song. She’s not just a storyteller, she’s a legend in the making. She’s a fucking romantic, comedic, dramatic horror movie. And no matter what she does to sideline her career, when The Vap takes her and she decides she’s going all the way, even Minelle, Bachelor and TC Brown have to duck.
|"Me you putting in your thing?"|
Walleigh: The Pawol Jettay President. He came from the last generation, but he became a king in the 21st century and so, Walleigh counts. He counts a lot. At first, it was like, what kind of way is that to spell Walleigh? He was good, but not impressive. He did a long spell in The Reign of The Four King-Kings being a forminable runner-up, along with Morgi and Lord Help Me. It looked, for a while, like he might join thranks of [perennial runners-up. But with his thoughtful, biting, crafted storytelling, his wicked punch lines and incredible set presentations on finals night, Walleigh always had what it took to breakthrough into the ranks, not just of monarchy, but of greatness. After Bachelor announced the end of an era in 1999, Walleigh seemed to get new steam. It wasn’t long before he won his crown and made his ultimate mark on the history of St Lucian kaiso. Now, every year, the other contenders await his contributions with respect, awe and baited breath.
Herb Black: The People's Champion. Yeah, we know that Herb Black comes from the late 80s, which is a whole nuther generation of kaisonian. We know that Herb Black is not nearly the same age as any of the other people cited here. But we also know that SUZZETTE is the single greatest, most popular and most well written St Lucian calypso OF ALL TIME. The man was a giant before he ever won the crown and since then has become a legend. He suffers a little bit from sameness of song structure, but that’s only because years of solitary confinement in calypso jail have somewhat traumatized him…made him try to be like the others sometimes. But when Herb Black gets an original idea and runs with it, watch out. He’s probably going to do something not just great, but immortal.
|"A great pleasure to meet you, my King!" Herb Black with a couple of subjects.|
Jany: The Wonderchild. She was the first woman ever to win the Calypso Crown and she did it while she was still something of a girl. She did it in her first outing. Like Bachelor, her debut in the Calypso Arena was also a watershed moment in history. Her presentations brought a new spark of international style to the Big Stage. Her image didn’t hurt either. She became, through no fault of her own, a voice, a role model and a symbol of hope for her generation. With international music deals in the works, she was poised to become a big star when she won the Crown. She was also at the center of a regional youth development network called Caribbean Visions, along with the sometimes controversial but visionary artist Kurt Allen, who also helped pen her songs and boost her career. And then, too soon….man, I can’t even talk about this. Suffice it to say. We will never forget her. Never.