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Can Soca Be Called Music?

Can Soca Be Called Music?

download (2)I know this may sound very harsh, especially as I am a trini, but can Soca really be called music?

It is indigenous to these shores, and it is a derivative of Calypso, and I know many people would disagree with me, but how can modern Soca – with its super fast paced (studio produced) beat and music (in fact, are there any live instrumentation in this ‘artform’?), repetitive, narrow-minded party lyrics and constant screaming (not singing) of a ‘melody line’ (if one can even call it a melody to begin with) be called music?

In fact, may ‘Soca Artistes rip-off songs from other popular groups/singers from around the world. And many a song for the Annual Carnival season all share the same beat and musical key. Almost as if it was a ‘Buy one, get 4 songs added on, all for the low price of… ‘

But I guess just like how there are a few Jamaicans who would say ‘Dancehall’ is an abomination to ‘Reggae’, I would like to state that Soca music is an abomination, an insult to what it came from – Kaiso music.

At least Kaiso had a nice, swaying, danceable beat, intelligent lyrics, a sweet melody line that anyone could sing along to, and real live instruments. Calypsonians prided themselves on being original and witty.

Maybe I am biased, but it crawls my blood when I hear young kids saying ‘Soca is we culture, not Kaiso!’ and I want to shake them up and say ‘Wake up, Soca is a child of Kaiso! What nonsense are you talking?’

Lord Shorty! May you rest in peace, I’m sure you never dreamed this nightmare that Soca would become. You invented at the time, a nice, faster derivative of Kaiso, and it had all our ears perked when you first performed it for us all way back when, but what a monster it has become now.

Thanks to Super Blue and everyone who followed after that, we’ve been ‘Jumping, counting to four and waving’ our disgusting, nasty, germ-infested, sweaty rags/flags for the last 21 years. Good Lord!, that’s a long time to be doing the same damn thing. Can’t all these brilliant soca ‘artistes’ write something else for a change? Do they get inspired to write something else other than a party-hit? Do they think/get inspired at all? Can’t they change the music market for the better rather that just trying to make easy money by packaging crap and selling it as ice cream.

I wish our listening public was a smarter one. Truly, I do. I love Kaiso, I just find Soca absolutely rubbish. Quantity vs. Quality?

Soca lovers and artistes alike all talk about this music going to the billboard charts and winning a ‘Grammy’. Amazing! The audacity to think this!

Reggae has its own category at the Grammys and as way back as 2005, it was said that Soca has it’s own category starting from the 2006 Grammys. But I just checked a listing of Grammy categories and I didn’t see Soca mentioned at all. Wonder why?

As an interesting side note, try googling ‘Why Reggae is more successful than Soca’

My question is, how can this music ever reach the US market, gain a spot on Billboard if no one outside of Trinidad and Tobago can understand what the heck these great, talented soca artistes are singing/screaming/shouting about? It all sounds like blah, blah, blah, mumble, mumble, mumble to me. Much less to foreigners who hear our ‘music’, most of them who are convinced we speak a different language than English here. And that’s when we talk slowly to them, so much less when we’re blasting our great ‘culture’ music at top speed and volume – 100 syllables a minute.

But then again, I’m sure we think most visitors here for Carnival can understand what ‘Jump and wave’ means. Surely!? If nothing else, just those two words. Don’t forget to count to four though. Then Jump! Ready? One, Two, Three…

All this nonsense is killing our brain cells, and it’s a crying shame we can’t see that? Our intelligence is jumping up and away in a flag, a rag, a Soca band that consists of a drummer, a bassist, a few keyboard players running ‘brass lines’ and a few quality ‘singers’ – rags included, and maybe a herd of scantily clad dancers.

All the foreigners who come to witness our ‘greatest show on earth’ must think we’re all a bunch of circus clowns that don’t know the first thing about music.

But then again, no one with ears to hear can really call Soca music. Noise definitely. Music? No way.

Francesco Emmanuel is a classically-trained guitarist who is madly in-love with the electric guitar. He teaches guitar for a living, and when he’s not composing music for film/TV, he’s off touring with Canadian world-beat group Kobo Town.

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