Friday, November 28, 2008

Chromatics performing in Barbados

Mih boy Chromatics tear it up for Trinidad and hip hop went he was in Barbados a few weeks ago. But don't take my word for it...check it in the videos below.

Chromatics live in Barbados - Put It Up

Chromatics Performing Live In Barbados - The Take Over

Chromatics live in Barbados - Forced Into Independence

Chromatics Performing Live In Barbados - The Ballad

Chromatics Performing Live In Barbados - Basement Party

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Digicel Rising or Synergy Soca: Which star is brighter?


For the first time this season I took in the fourth edition of soca star. In that episode the contestants had to perform their respective songs in front of a mostly appreciative crowd in St. James and receive criticism from the judges. The judges comprised of Paul Richards, Carl “Beaver” Henderson and Carol Jacobs and what struck me about their criticisms was that it was both honest and (gasp) constructive. As you may know, I previously followed Digicel Rising Star competition a few months ago and their judging wasn't terrible but seemed uneven being sometimes venomous and other times hinting at 'favouritism'. Both of these competitions have the same primary purpose, which is to make dollars on the heads of hapless struggling artistes. However, both of these competitions also have the same secondary purpose of trying to help these upcoming artistes so I think it would be useful to discern which competition makes the most sense to an artiste trying to advance his/her career.

So I'm going to rank each competition out of five in five categories (clever eh?) that are of use to a new artiste. These categories are "Career Advancement", "Improvement of Craft", "Embarrassment Factor", "Chance of Winning" and "Benefit of Winning". So without further ado...

Career Advancement

DRS: DRS completed its third season about three months ago and already it's hard to even remember the winners. All contestants had to jump through a perilous slew of hoops singing the hits of mostly foreign entertainers in an attempt to reward the vocalist who could mimic different vocal styles the best. Ironically enough, that contestant placed second but it would be like betting on the Lotto to guess what either of the top two would release to radio, if they ever do. Note to DRS: if you're going to make people sing foreign stuff at least organize a US recording contract nuh.
Score: 2/5

SSS: SSS has notoriously only been kind to the winners (excluding last year) with previous winners Fireball and Umi Marcano both becoming household names with hugely successful radio singles. However, it definitely sucks to be second although I guess this puts them almost square with American idol. Moral of the story: play to win.
Score: 3.5/5

Winner: Soca Star

Improvement of Craft

DRS: Both competitions have artiste development as their sub-mantra and one of the subversive hooks of each show (and every talent show invented) is the pleasure of watching contestants embarrass themselves. With DRS, this has been one of their selling points with one judge being aptly dubbed 'Judge Dredd'. Does all this criticism help? I guess they would like to think so although they totally destroy those with no inkling of talent while bathing those with talent in buckets of undeserved praise. Even so, I guess the hard-nosed approach is sometimes effective.
Score: 3/5

SSS: I can't speak for the other judges too much and I would love to know how Paul Richards ended up becoming a judge in the first place but that Carl 'Beaver' Henderson really seems to know what he's talking about. He's calm whether he's praising you or telling you that you're mess and is brave enough to nitpick a crowd-pleasing performance. SSS also seems to have more surprise winners than DRS so I guess SSS contestants have a greater propensity to improve. It also helps that SSS is more deliberate in their goal of improving artistes as well.
Score: 4/5

Winner: Soca Star

Embarrassment Factor

DRS: This section is scored lower the more likely you are to be embarrassed since embarrassment can often be an impediment to artistic growth. With that said, DRS is the real place to get embarrassed and is not for the weak of heart. I would assume that this would probably scare away good artistes who just haven't mastered their nerves yet.
Score: 1/5

SSS: Soca star can be fairly embarrassing too but mainly due to the fact that you're usually getting tongue-lashed by a man who regularly bats his eyelids. This is kinda expected in competitions but it's definitely easier to find a comfort zone in SSS since you're singing the same thing throughout the competition.
Score: 3/5

Winner: Soca Star

Chance of Winning

DRS: To win DRS, you have to be a master of singing multiple musical genres. This is no easy feat and I'm frankly amazed by a person like Meeda Ellis who is able to pull off the exaggerated wailings of Celine Dion as well as the deep baritone chanting of Maximus Dan. You often have no idea what they're going to throw at you so I would say the task of summing up your chances in DRS is more difficult. The sms voting system where one person can vote as much as they want is also one of the weirdest things I have ever heard.
Score: 2/5

SSS: In SSS you're working with one song so once you have a good song then you're in the game. Master your performance and your win book...almost. The sms voting factor can keep unlikely people on but then they really check that?
Score: 3.5/5

Winner: Soca Star

Benefit of Winning

DRS: DRS gives you like $100000TT and a contract with a management company when you win. 10000 dookerans is a lot of money and a contract is a nice touch. As far as I know there has been no controversy receiving winnings either. Seems straight to me.
Score: 4/5

SSS: Now this is where SSS falls short. I fail to see how a Daihatsu Terios helps a struggling artiste and it is in really poor taste to not give out two in the event of a tie. Other aspects of the prize include a contract from Mastamind productions, which is a straight up company, and a video from synergy. Oddly enough, past winners Blu and OG have yet to see a video from Synergy as far as I know (correct me if I'm wrong). That's just jacked up man.
Score: 2.5/5

Winner: Digicel Rising Star

So there you have it folks, Synergy Soca Star takes it easily. As Jayz said: "Men lie, women lie, numbers don't". If you don't agree feel free to comment and tell me. Da Face out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A night out...with P.E.P.P.A.

Hello peeps, what's cracking? I know it has been a long time since I've done commentary on an event but I've been working hard on my album, Hitchhiker's Guide to uwi and also been writing some stuff for Trinipulse. But doh frighten, I not putting down the torch anytime soon and I actually have a lot of stuff to talk about. I eh even open mih mouth about Soca Star 4 yet.

Yeah, so one of my brethren was hyping up this session affectionately called 'P.E.P.P.A (is this an acronynm?)' that takes place in the La Casa De Ibiza Restaurant & Lounge which is a decent-looking place directly opposite the oval on Tragerete road. Honestly, my work is like a one minute walk from the place so I thought about it and was like "no scene" and proceeded to organize myself to make some movements. I actually wanted to make my debut in the place the week before which featured my favourite group '3 Suns' performing but that was the night before Divali and I live Chaguanas. Five hours in traffic is rarely fun.

So evidently enough, I decided to check it out the week that Synergy soca star alumni Umi Marcano and Fireball would be blessing the mic. To get in I had to leave a spartan $40 contribution which would be later compensated for with the spectacular drink prices by the bar but I wasn't studying that yet. As I walked in I was pleasantly surprised by the look of the place. In my mind, I thought the place would either look like an upscale bar or a downscale club but this place looked like someone's living room complete with comfortable couches to sit. The place was well lit and had a look like the set of a tv show - there were guys video-taping the whole thing so I guess that was the point. This vibe I think was a blessing to the performers who looked relaxed and gave unplugged versions of their songs while being supported by the house band and backing vocalists.

I didn't stay to see the whole of Fireball's set but I did see the latter half of Umi's which made me see the dude in a different light. I don't have cable and I actually didn't see much of the second season of soca star so I didn't really get much from Umi barring his cocky demeanour and penchant for producing a catchy song every carnival season since his big win. However, P.E.P.P.A. has this novel concept whereby artistes participate in a question and answer session after performing which I'm guessing serves to make the close setting seem even more intimate and (gasp) makes then seem more human. After seeing Umi answer questions it seems that under the exterior is a young talented and determined artiste who "idolizes Machel" and is doing what he can to make it in our brutal industry. Maybe they should try nailing down Mr. Patrick in a session. Anyways, Face out. You can also check P.E.P.P.A out on their facebook group.

Umi Marcano performing in P.E.P.P.A.

Fireball performing in P.E.P.P.A.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Trini Videos on Youtube pt 6

Yeah folks, lots of things happen since the last post. We got a black president in the US, inflation in trini tended towards 15% and Mr. Manning thought he could get away with personally reprimanding a radio station (lmao). Pressure! Anyways, check out the new trini videos and look out for my album (Hitchhiker's guide to UWI) next year. Btw, I performed in the SoundStage series that is currently showing (in Trinidad) on channel 6 so if you're lucky you can catch me there too. Face out.

Isasha - Don't you know

Zebulun - Fake Love/Better Will Come

Jah Defender - I don't wanna lose you

Tim Starr and Jah Defender - Trinidad is dying

Monday, November 3, 2008

Swaggerless djs

Yeah folks, Face here again. This is going to be another short post so the illiterate amongst you can rest easy. A short while ago I was heading to perform on Milner hall in UWI when I encountered some dotish behaviour from a dj. I was trying to hand him my track but the imps decided to stare straight ahead for like ten minutes until he saw it fit to answer me ( I can't even tell you his name cause he is part of some inconspicuous, no-name crew that sounds like they can't mix). He didn't know who he was dealing with though so I decided to let it out on a track. Enjoy! Face out.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

How to go 'Platinum' in T+T

Fellow artistes, fans, haters, sprangas, hangers-on and others; I hope you're reading and taking note. Today is going to be a short mathematical exercise where I reveal the number of album copies you have to sell to 'go platinum' in T+T. For the uninitiated, 'going platinum' in the US means that you've sold 1 million copies of your album after which the specified artiste receives a platinum plaque in commemoration of the auspicious moment from the RIAA (a US organization that takes note of these 'useful' facts). The population of Trinidad and Tobago is like 1.3 million in total so its obvious that selling 1 million copies of anything on the island shifts to the wrong side of impossible especially since you know how divisive we can be sometimes. Anyways, on to the math.

Population of US: 301,139,947 (July 2007 est.)
US Platinum criteria = 1000000 copies sold

Population of Trinidad = 1,056,608 (July 2007 est.)
Trinidad Platinum criteria = (1,056,608 x 1000000) / 301,139,947 = 3508.694 (3500) copies

So you have to sell 3500 copies of your album to 'go platinum' in Trinidad.

Scene. So I did a likkle cross multiplication which is a basic concept if you understand ratio and if you don't well...tough. With this figure in mind it would be interesting to note how many times the popular T+T artistes like Machel, Bunji, Shurwayne etc went platinum if not double platinum on the island. Anyone with sales figures is free to hit me up. Face out.