Trinidad soca trends for 2017

It's two weeks into the New Year and Trinidad Carnival is officially in full swing.

Sifting through all the music is no easy task but LoopTT has managed to hear enough to form some opinions about the 2017 soca offerings.

Here are some of the trends LoopTT has noticed from what's been heard so far.

Live instruments are back

There seems to be a return to live instruments in the production of soca songs this season. Jaiga’s remake of Tambu’s “Get On’ and 5 Star Akil‘s new release “Hero”, are among those that utilised live instruments.

Keshav Singh, known as Lazabeam, producer and half of the UK duo Jus Now, said the return to live instrumentation adds value to the music.

“The soul of T&T is in our rhythm and melody, which is contained in the instruments that we used to develop our sound. I even think that a return to these traditional melodies/grooves adds value to our music in an export sense, and even resound more with a wider section of our local population. All in all, it's good for music, and for the music business,” he said.

He noted, however, that a distinction should be made between live instruments and live recorded instruments.

“There has been a definite resurgence of using live recorded instruments of Trinidadian productions, which was the cornerstone initially of recorded music in our industry. The last time we recorded music like that was before MIDI production came into play,” he said.

Jus Now produced the first ever sample library last year of live recorded music from T&T using the Laventille Rhythm Section. That library, said Singh, has been used in the production of many soca songs today.

A return to the past

This year has seen a definite return to past styles of composing. Blaxx' “Golden Days” on the Nostalgia Riddim, MX Prime’s Full Extreme and Mr King and Lord Nelson on the Showcase Riddim are prime examples.

Kenny Phillips, a legendary producer and father of Kasey of Precision productions and Kyle from Badjohn Republic, declared that the music is finally back in soca.

He told LoopTT he influenced his son Kyle to produce the Nostalgia Riddim as he wanted to bring music back into soca.

“It was just a chord loop that people wrote over but what is happening now is that they have gone more in depth into the music structure, chorus, pre-chorus, bridge... the old style calypso is coming into the soca,” he said.

Asked what has influenced this return, Phillips credited the Bajans.

“Barbados is influencing it. The Red Boys have been doing it all the time and their songs are hits. Nappy sings kaiso in a modern package. And they are telling stories,” he said.

Resurgence of power soca

Last year, we questioned the dearth of power soca, with many giving the last rites to the genre of soca that has propelled some to the  Road March Hall of Fame. With the predominance of Groovy soca, even the Soca Monarch organisers, in 2016, scrapped the Groovy and Power categories with a return to just one single competition. However, in 2017, we are witnessing a rise in the so-called power genre, given to songs over 100 beats per minute.  Devon Matthews’ “Benn Up”,  The Truck Stop Riddim featuring Terri Lyons, Nadia Batson and Ms Alysha as well as Fay Ann’s “Something to Hold”, are among the songs that come to mind.

Jaiga, a soca singer and radio announcer on 96.1 FM said there is a definite return to fast songs this year.

“All who doubted it, questioned it, tried to hold it back,155 and up bpm is back. Fast tune, jump up, is back. It is the best time cause I feel a lot of premium fetes in the early part of the year gonna feel a lil pain with attendance because of the economic strain, companies not in the habit of buying 100 tickets like employees like they used to so a lot of support these exclusive parties used to have they won’t have it right now. So the smartest thing for patrons to do is to go the less expensive parties, we talking about cooler and rum and beer fetes where girls could put on a short pants and sneakers again and fellas could put on a T’shirt and jeans and enjoy themselves and that kind of environment is perfect for jump up,” he said.