This week I was doing my normal routine; scrolling through my Facebook feed slack jawed under Zuckerburg mind control when I noticed a pervading issue. Should deejays play non-Soca music in fetes? People quarreling bitter. On one hand, there were patrons livid that deejays even thinking bout playing non-Soca songs in a Soca fete. On the other hand, there was the deejays insistent that change is needed and this ‘innovation’ is good. Personally, I ONLY WANT TO HEAR SOCA IN MY FETE!!! But to be generous I’m going to (try to) examine both sides. Check my boy Keevo’s video below. He captures my views on this topic like a bucket beneath a leaky roof. Only soca in my soca fete.
The biggest question in my mind is WHY? I mean, we not only have numerous quality Soca this year, but tons of quality Soca from years gone. Bring them back I saw. You know how I wish I could hear deep cuts from Treason (before 3 Suns) in 2018? You know how I wish vintage Bunji like one of my favourites “Desparado” could get a run? They could spin the whole “Courvousier riddim” if you ask me. Tings we forget like “Ridin It” from Precious, “River” from “Sanell Dempster and Surge “In Your Timing”. Bring dem back. When you last you hear ting from TC? “Jammers” and “Who De Hell Is Kim?”. Gimme a whole Alison Hinds session.
What about a Krosfyah session? “Wet me”, “Pump me up” and “Oil Pumpin”. I’m a Destra fan so bring back not just “It’s Carnival” but “I Dare You” and “Fly”. An ole school session in Dancehall, Ole school KMC. Some deep (not canoe bay deep) Machel cuts, not just “Band of the year” etc. Hip Hop and many other genres is always greatly appreciated by the public. Why not with Soca? Time to get creative. Falling on foreign is a cop out.
Lemme try to assess it. Why would deejays play Dancehall, Pop etc in a Soca fete? The only logical reason I can think of is if those songs are getting a larger forward than Soca. Are they? However, judging from the backlash it doesn’t seem so. People seem to be genuinely pissed off and irate. To put it lightly, they mad af. But playing devil’s advocate again, those angry people like yours truly can just be a very vocal minority while the majority welcome the change. Even if that is true, deejays, I advise caution. You are heading down a slippery slope which can not only negatively affect the culture but your livelihood as well. Let me explain.
This heading might seem outta timing. but hit a blunt and lime with me for a second. In many things there are two broad types of fans – casual and hardcore. The Nintendo Wii was a console marketed firmly to the casual gamer. Gameplay consisted of waving a “Wii-mote” which excited casuals but pissed off hardcore gamers who are lazy and averse to that kinda embarrassment. It was chock full of kid-friendly games with simple concepts. Initially it worked. The sales were phenomenal. The console was sold out for months.
But casuals in any market are fickle. They soon moved on to the next shiny thing. And the hardcore who consistently buy games and advise their casual friends on what to buy were nowhere to be found. They had moved on to the ps3 and xbox 360. And since the console business is built largely on game sales as opposed to actual console sales, the Wii floundered.
BACK TO SOCA
Now back to Soca. There are hardcore feters. The people who in a fete every weekend. The taxidriver who have a Soca playlist in the ride from October. The people who bending like bamboo to attend a club but from January to March the trunk always have a cooler. The feters who does still go to the front of a stage even though there are ample screens to provide visibility. That one partner who does still lose he jersey halfway through the night. Those mad people, bless their soul, who does get legit excited at the prospect of a hose of cold water to chest at 5AM in a fete.
Those are the people, in my opinion, who most vex about “Skankin Sweet” in a fete. The casuals, the girl who coming in a cooler fete in a long dress and heels and steady on she phone – she likes the change. The crew who reaching 9pm to an All-Inclusive that finishing 10pm to show their face and take snaps – they bubbling to Ed Sheeran. But guess what? They not going much fete and they will quickly switch to something else. And they depend on their hardcore friends to advise them on which fetes to go, which songs are the big tunes and most times, their hardcore friends link the tickets as well. The hardcore are the backbone of the industry.
Angering the smaller hardcore might seem like ‘small ting’ but they guard the integrity of feting culture. We have already seen things fade. People don’t breakaway like they used to. We’ve seen heavy segregation with all the VIPs and VVIPs and the like. Not all change is bad but some is troubling. If a fete is no different from a normal concert, the whole Soca switch and fete-going culture will disappear. And many artistes and you deejays eat ah food off of it.
The only constant is change. People don’t like it, but it’s true. What I would humbly advise, from a deejaying perspective is if you want to introduce non-Soca elements – ease it in. Not many people will remember, but when Machel started bringing foreign acts in Carnival he started by collaborating with them. A Trojan horse of sorts. The first I remembered was “Rubber Waist” with Red Rat. Machel brought him down for Boy Scouts fete a year to perform their collab. After which, Red Rat proceeded to sing his dancehall hits. It was a surreal experience at the time. But few quarreled and Red Rat made appearances on Soca stages many times after that.
Machel himself has always been careful to always place Soca to the forefront. The acts are usually surprises and in radio ads; the local acts get prime position. So deejays, make sure Soca is the main draw. Your hardcore audience though small is the base of this house of cards. Don’t make things go Kevin Spacey.
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