title taken from “Brooklyn Anthem” by Iwer George
“Rant and Rave” Caribbean Arts and Entertainment Edition
Brooklyn artistes came out to The Slope Lounge on Jul 24th, 2019 for “Rant and Rave” presented by DysChick & SocaSaySo. The third installment of the 4-part Summer Chat Series focused on Caribbean Arts and Entertainment, which included film, photography, fashion, and music.
The evening kicked off with a film called “Auntie” presented by the Caribbean Film Academy. The film tells the all-to-familiar story of a child who has been left with a caregiver until her mother is able to send for her. Told from the perspective of the Auntie, we see how emotionally taxing it is to raise someone else’s child knowing that one day she will have to leave. Alysia Simone, editor of RewindAndComeAgain.com and Managing Director of CaFA, explained the need for more films like these that tell our stories in our voices. You can learn more by reading my CaFA Spotlight.
We then took the arts into 3D with a stunning presentation of masqueraders showing off Labor Day costumes from Boom Mas, Bajan Paradise, Kaios International and Skyy Max Mas organized by our fabulous host and veteran masquerader herself, Lady Q. Front line pieces with backpacks adorned beauties who showcased how the costumes hold up under some serious waistline movements.
It was then time for our main event - a panel discussion with Brooklyn-based soca artistes. We sat down with Nasilele representing Grenada, Wildfire representing Trinidad & Grenada, LFS Music representing Trinidad, One Voice representing Trinidad, Young Devyn representing Trinidad, and Motto representing St. Lucia to find out what challenges they face representing the Caribbean from abroad.
DO NOT CALL THEM LOCAL
I was under the impression that calling these talents “local artistes” was just a factual term. Well, the issue that these artistes face is that this term implies that their music is local and is not played outside of New York. In fact, these artistes have traveled around the world and have even placed in international soca competitions. Wildfire is known throughout St. Lucia for his music, Young Devyn has shared Trinidad stages with Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin, and Motto’s TeamFoxx is the largest distributor of Lucian music with over 120K subscribers.
Where you from?
Soca artistes living in the United States have to think carefully when answering this question as they have a dual identity. Although they live in America, this question suggests representation and these artistes represent hard for the Caribbean. Our panelists answer by stating the nation that courses through their blood - St. Lucia, Trinidad, Grenada, etc.
Is it hard to get respect and get your music played in the islands?
Of course it is. As Young Devyn says, “we want [soca] to be international genre, but we put a cap on ourselves. And I say that in the sense of not letting artistes from the United States expand the brand.” Even major talents like Lyrikal, who puts out bangers every year, knows that he will never win a Soca Monarch title in Trinidad. In an interview with Blogger Chicks he stated that he will continue to enter the competition to ensure that people know his music. However, Wildfire thinks artistes should change that mindset since it will always be “difficult for an artiste from [the United States] to be taken seriously in the soca arena.” He suggests that artistes focus on making a name here (and making “US Money”) since the market is much larger.
Speaking of Lyrikal, the artistes took a moment to pay homage to Brooklyn’s Soca King
Whether he knows it or not, Lyrikal has influenced the Brooklyn soca scene. Each artiste took a moment to share what he and his career meant to them. “He’s our King. He is the one who represents us here,” Wildfire says. Young Devyn considers him a father figure since he has become her mentor and a close family friend, even taking her to her prom. His proteges Nkosi and Jabari of LFS Music said that “We can’t give him enough props and enough respect for the things that he does for everybody in Brooklyn.” I guess you don’t have to win a Soca Monarch title to be royalty.
What can we do to support Brooklyn’s soca artistes?
Play their music! Now, I would never tell a deejay to play a song that he does not think is good, but these panelists make good music. “Bass” was released more than 5 years ago and it still gets crowds moving. Although Young Devyn has started rapping, she still makes soca music like “Find Meh,” which she performed at Rant and Rave.
The artistes then took the stage for an amazing showcase backed by celebrity soca deejay Frankie Please.
These and other Brooklyn-based artistes like Mr. Legz, Adrian Dutchin, GBM (Great Brooklyn Movements) Nutron and of course Lyrikal continue to make headlines around the globe despite the challenge most US-based artistes face getting their music played in the Caribbean.
The goal of this session of Rant and Rave was to showcase Caribbean art created by those who reside outside of the Caribbean. Whenever there is talk of music and film, it often centers around the Caribbean, but be advised that Brooklyn has a wealth of Caribbean creativity as noted by our resounding response when asked “Where the crew from Brooklyn?!”