Thursday, January 28, 2010

Carnival without Machel (written Nov 4th 2008)

The article below was written over a year ago and I'll let you decide whether what I wrote back then holds true now that we're currently experiencing a second carnival without Machel.

Machel performing? Jeez. Inviting someone to a fete in Trinidad can be so predictable. I would challenge any linguist to prove that "Machel" is not the most used word in Trinidad around carnival time.

Machel MontanoIn fact, Machel and Trinidad carnival has been one of those long lasting, symbiotic relationships where each party has depended on and grown on the strength of the other with Machel emerging as its premier star and his resultant ascendance placing a spotlight on both carnival and soca music. Or a least that was the way it was.

It was maybe that way before he sold out the historic and renowned Madison Square Garden arena in New York with a thrilling performance that earned several rave reviews even from sources that were hearing soca for the first time.

Or probably before his list of collaborations shattered geographic and stylistic boundaries; ranging from Maximus to M.O.P. and Bunji Garlin to Busta Rhymes with room for a Japanese singer called Minmi. Or at least before he became fourteen albums deep, became the first high definition (HD) human and newly finished wrapping up the sixth installment of Alternative Concept which will go down in history as the fete that killed the legendary Brass festival.

No my friends, it seems that Machel Montano HD is now a snowball to big for the hills of carnival and soca music which is both good and dangerous to the local art form.

To be quite honest though, carnival without Machel is not a far-fetched possibility; it has happened before. Somewhere around the early portion of the new millennium when Machel was under a recording contract to some degree, those who attended fetes around that period would note that he was supposedly not ‘allowed' to perform and was absent from Xtatic performances.

During this time, Peter C. Lewis was basically at the forefront of the Xtatic band and although he had a major hit that year for carnival with "Tay Lay Lay", Machel's absence in the band and carnival as a whole was heavily felt. I remember how I felt at the time, which was a mere four or five years after Machel's major breakthrough with the phenomenal hit "Big Truck", and even then I was worried about soca's future (imagine that!) because even then, almost every one of my best carnival memories was tied to one of his songs!

Machel Montano peformingWell, history can be funny some times and Machel eventually lost the contract somehow which some say delayed soca's chance at mainstream notoriety but has indelibly linked Machel to Trinidad carnival, blessing him with unending commercial and critical acclaim and unprecedented nation-wide fame. In the face of concert incidents, a nightclub brawl and even accusations of being a member of a secret society, Machel's brand has grown stronger than ever and the quality of soca music in a given year is largely related to the quality of his tunes with almost 80% of his album tracks receiving regular rotation during some carnival seasons. What a position we have gotten our self into!

So what if Machel goes now? And what if oil in Trinidad dries up? We would just have to diversify, that's all. Similarly to the way in which many alternative sources of Trinidad revenue are being under-developed due to our dependence syndrome and sometimes laissez-faire attitude, many artistes and genres of music in Trinidad are being denied because of our dependence on the dominant talent that is Mr. HD (not his fault of course).

His huge reservation on local radio would, if he's not there, let at least a dozen new artistes ‘eat ah food' and promoters would be forced to get more creative than just hiring Machel. With the virtual CEO of the soca business gone, lesser artistes would be thrust into a greater role and be forced to maintain it with the same tireless creativity and indomitable work ethic that previously defined it. Maybe our ears, which together with our brains, have been programmed to be addicted to that mischievous baritone rasp capable of coaxing women in business suits to ‘buss a wine' on Frederick Street as well as let the country know that "we not giving up", will now have room for different voices that also have something to say.

Stars like Machel Montano HD only come like once every century so it's not wholly surprising that he graduated from a child prodigy to the main attraction of our grand cultural circus. It will be agony for a few carnivals when he's gone (it's bound to happen sometime people) but eventually I think we will be ok. Face out.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Yuh wah some sorrel ah wah?

This is one of the best videos I've ever seen on youtube, no exaggeration. It's a moment of pure genius perfectly capturing trini idleness in less than two minutes. It also already has over a thousand views in the three days that it's been up so for those of you who have been under a rock, check it out below. Face out.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Da Face Top Soca Picks

So now that the soca monarch semi-finalists have been announced and the usual suspects are in and though I'm well aware that no one pays attention to soca monarch no more since it has little bearing on road march or what people actually appreciate, has been accused of questionable winner decisions in the past and can't compete with the better organized fetes that it shares a time-slot with I'm going to just go ahead and name my top soca choices for this current season anyway. Most of what I going to call is not road march ish (I'm saving that for after I attend my first fete for the season tonite) but is what I consider the best.

Big up to all the artistes featured below and good luck with all your collective endeavours. I just want to make it clear that it doesn't mean that because I'm an upcoming trini hip hop artiste that I engage in 'soca-hate' and I love and will always love soca music. So take in the vibez and you can let me know what are your personal favourites. Face out.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ironic (Recession Music)

This is an extremely short one off Recession Music. Just putting this up to fill space until my microphone comes down, after which the floodgates will be opened with nuff tunes. Brace yuhself. Face out.

Friday, January 15, 2010

DJs singing, palancing etc.

I have no problem with deejays singing. Everybody has to 'eat ah food'...yuh know. Just because they stop some people from eating their food doesn't mean they stop me from getting seconds of mine and it surprisingly doesn't mean that I wouldn't want them to eat. Even if they were pausing my feeding I wouldn't hate on them for eating because I would most likely do the same, but with more class, probably. Ever since I started creating resumes, I quickly learned the value of using one's position and seizing opportunity to gain success as getting that foot in the door can be hard when you have a big shoe size. Plus, 'Palance' is an incredible song that would be a big tune regardless.

What is disturbing to me though is the trendiness and bandwagonistic nature of the phenomenon. Previously, a good song by a dj was seen as a surprise and the more common bad ones were regarded curiously and forgotten with the dj in question playfully regarding the song as a foray and nothing more. Nowadays, these djs, deservedly and otherwise, stand at the forefront of the soca musical landscape, swinging through and beating their chest as entrepeneurs, hustlers and lol bonafide artistes while conveniently forgetting the instantaneous access they have to the finest producers, artiste friends who don't mind performing social fellatio for airplay and well, airplay on their own programmes and the programmes of their dj pardners who could be accused of nepotism if not for the fact that they are usually tone deaf (they may actually like those pieces of mess); bunning down all non-soca local acts basically while playing 'hits' by Soulja Boy? How I miss those times when Chinese Laundry was the only dj with a lame song getting more spins than a bike tyre.

Yeah things change but I eh have no beef with the djs. If I have learned anything from living in a system is that people take advantage of it whenever and wherever loopholes present itself. So I eh vex with them men earning extra money although I do get annoyed with the condescending and scolding tones most take when talking about upcoming artistes and their inability to succeed when they of all people should know how hard it is to penetrate radio since they function as the chastity belt (why do we obsess about radio anyways though). My real beef is with a system so designed that it allows a tone deaf dj with a terrible concept to get airplay and be assimilated into the airwaves like methane from Point Lisas and forge careers on abysmal music with no encouragement or compulsion to improve. In the US there have been examples of similar crossovers like producer Kanye rapping or radio personality Ludacris rapping but they had to either come good in the latter case or get good in the former. Yeah, I'm saddened by a radio system that turns filth into gold through doctored ubiquity; I'm only consoled by the fact that facebook is my radio and the airplay not bad at all. I still like 'Palance' though and I better get my jersey Wednesday or we'll have problems. Face out.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Interesting video: Young Dro - I Don't Know Y'all (feat. Yung L.A.)

This is one of the most creative videos I've seen in a while. Not the subject matter but whatever filter they used to get the visuals to have that effect. It works well with the song too. I'm going to be releasing a vid for every song on Hitchhiker's Guide to Uwi this year so these days I'm trying to watch more vids to get better and more varied inspiration (thanks Juma). Anyway, watch...enjoy. Face out.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Clipse Popular Demand Popeyes feat Cam ron & Pharrell Official Music Video

I don't know eh but to me this is the best rap song I've heard for 2009. I won't say it has the best verses but the vybe of it is nuts. Definitely the most slept on song. Face rate this one. Face out.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Tribute to Zidane - Skeeto

As much as it hurts me to see Zizou putting the hurting on Brazil (it hurt then and still hurts now), this tribute video and song by Skeeto real bad. Check it out quick. Face out.