Words by Rishi Bonneville and Eddie STATS Houghton
Carnival time again! As multitudes of ex-pat Trinis and foreign calypso, pan and soca lovers board flights for Port of Spain, the fetes and song competitions are in full swing. The famed parades of masqueraders will be held this year on March 7-8, when the Road March champion will be crowned. However, since 1993, on the Friday before the full costumed bacchanalia, soca fans gather at the Queen’s Oval Park cricket stadium to watch an onstage competition in which the singers of a faster soca tune and a slower soca are selected as the Power and Groovy soca winners respectively. (Note: The Chutney Soca Monarch competition, which occurred on Saturday, March 19th was won by Rikki Jai for “White Oak & Water.” A disgruntled Ravi B, who came second, urged fans to “pelt something” and hundreds of bottles fell upon the stage.) As the excitement builds, LargeUp reached to top soca selectors and soundsystems from Trinidad, NY, Miami, Montreal, Germany and Japan to take the international temperature and get their favorites for road march, power and groovy soca monarch. This is actually a Top 10 (roughly) but since many of our soca pundits had comments and overlapping picks we have dispensed with the usual countdown format and broken it down by selector. To the road!
D-LIFE is based in Brooklyn and plays with reggae soundsystem Massive B on Hot 97.
D-LIFE Groovy Soca Favorites: Kes,”Wotless”; Benjai, “Trini”
D-LIFE Power Soca & Roadmarch Favorites: Machel Montano, ”Advantage”; Fay-Ann Lyons, “Consider it Done”; Benjai, ”Wine to the Side”
Hemo & Moofire are based in Japan, and work with Japanese soca chutney sensation Japan Barbie.
Hemo & Moofire Groovy Soca Favorites: Benjai, “Trini”; Kes, ”Wotless”
Hemo & Moofire Power Soca Favorites: Machel Montano, “Advantage”; Fay-Ann Lyons & Skinny Fabulous, “We Ready”
The Soca Twins are based in Germany, and are the reigning soca soundsystem in the region.
Groovy Monarch: Benjai, “Trini”
Power Monarch: Fay-Ann Lyons, “Consider It Done”
Roadmarch: Machel Montano, “Advantage”
Jillionaire is a DJ, Web TV personality, label head and the resident Trini of the Mad Decent crew. He thinks soca-ly and moves globally.
Groovy: Kes, “Wotless”
Power: Machel Montano, “Advantage”
Power: “I like Nadia and Patrice, Skinny Fabulous, Destra Garcia, Iwer George, Fay-Anne and Machel.”
Groovy: “I’m disappointed Denise Belfon is not in for Power but for Groovy I like her tune ‘Dingolay,’ Kes, Kerwin, Destra, Benjai, Jahmoun, Patrice, Blaxx and Cassi.”
Walshy Fire is a selector for world-renowned (and Grammy-winning!) Black Chiney Soundsystem and is known for his sets on Mixx 96.1
Groovy: Kes, “Wotless”
Power: Iwer George, “Come To Me”; Machel Montano, ”Illegal”; Fay-Ann Lyons, “Consider It Done”
Road: Busy Signal, “Get Outta My Way”
Poirier is based in Montreal and is widely recognized for championing soca (and the sounds of Haitian Kanaval) in the Northern Hemisphere with his Karnival parties and productions.
Quick Picks: Skinny Fabulous f. Machel Montano, “Charge Up (Duracell)”; Mista Vybe, “Ding Ding”; JW & Blaze “And Iz Dat”;
Bonus: Busy Signal & Trevor Off-Key, “Brum Pum Pum”
Kes the Band, “Wotless”
Machel Montano, “Advantage”
Fay-Ann Lyons, “Consider It Done”
Bonneville’s Under-The-Radar Joints: These are a few great soca records that may not have enough momentum to be contenders for 2011, but should not be overlooked.
Cassie “Town Ting”
3Suns & Benjai “Foreigner”
Denise Belfon “Dance & Dingolay”