Neil 'Iwer' George (left), College Boy Jesse and a member of the ISM team (right) collect their prize cheques from ISM 2020 host, Sunny Blingg (centre)

After years of waiting, Iwer George has been dubbed the Power Soca Monarch for 2020. He won with this year's smash hit, 'Stage Gone Bad'. Taking second was Lyrikal with a theatrical performance of 'Rukshun'. Olatunji rounded off the top three with 'Thankful'. In his first year entering the competition, College Boy Jesse has been crowned 2020's Groovy Soca Monarch. Jesse led the way with a stunning performance of his 'Happy Song'. It's a song he says holds a special place in his heart. Second place went to last year's Monarch, Swappi, who gave a rousing rendition of 'Jumbie Head'. Viking Ding Dong took third with 'Outside'. George says he's happy with the results and is looking forward to celebrating his win after the Carnival season is over. He warned fans to look out because he intends to make personal history by winning this year's Road March title as well. He also thanked his partner on the song, Kees Dieffenthaller, who surprised the audience by performing with him. George had previously won the crown three times, but has been known as 'the man with the most seconds'. He says he'll definitely be defending his title in 2021, College Boy Jesse beamed with pride as he dedicated the win to his fans and family; particularly his parents and wife. He says the song reminds him of a lesson on positivity that his father always told him as a child.

This Oct. 22, 2013, file photo shows Serena Williams of the US keeping her eyes the ball. Williams has been voted the AP Female Athlete of the Decade for 2010 to 2019. Williams won 12 of her professional-era record 23 Grand Slam singles titles over the past 10 years. No other woman won more than three in that span. (AP Photo/File)

Serena Williams dominated the decade, on the court and in conversation. There were, to begin with, the dozen Grand Slam single titles — no other woman had more than three over the past 10 seasons — and the 3 1/2 years in a row at No. 1 in the WTA rankings. And then there was the celebrity status that transcended tennis, making everything she did and said newsworthy, whether it was the triumphs and trophies and fashion statements or the disputes with tournament officials, the magazine covers or the Super Bowl ad with a message about women's power, the birth of her daughter or the health scare that followed. Still winning matches and reaching Grand Slam finals into her late 30s, still mattering as much as ever, Williams was selected by The Associated Press as the Female Athlete of the Decade on Saturday after a vote by AP member sports editors and AP beat writers. The AP Male Athlete of the Decade will be announced Sunday. "When the history books are written, it could be that the great Serena Williams is the greatest athlete of all time. ... I like to call it the 'Serena Superpowers' — that champion's mindset. Irrespective of the adversity and the odds that are facing her, she always believes in herself," said StaceyAllaster, CEO of the WTA from 2009-15 and now chief executive for professional tennis at the U.S. Tennis Association, which runs the U.S. Open. "Whether it was health issues; coming back; having a child; almost dying from that — she has endured it all and she is still in championship form,"Allastersaid. "Her records speak for themselves." Gymnast Simone Biles, the 2019 AP Female Athlete of the Year, finished second to Williams in voting for the decade honor, followed by swimmer Katie Ledecky. Two ski racers were next, with Lindsey Vonn finishing fourth and Mikaela Shiffrin fifth. Three of Williams' five AP Female Athlete of the Year awards came during the last decade, in 2013, 2015 and 2018. She also won in 2002 and 2009. "She's been my idol growing up," Biles said. "She's remained humble. She's stayed true to herself and her character and I think that's really neat about an athlete," Biles said. "Once you start winning, some get cocky, but she's stayed true to herself, win or lose." It's the defeats that seem to drive Williams, helping propel her to heights rarely reached by any athlete in any sport. "Whenever I lose, I get more determined, and it gives me something more to work toward," Williams said in a 2013 interview with the AP. "I don't get complacent, and I realize I need to work harder and I need to do better and I want to do better — or I wouldn't be playing the game." With a best-in-the-game serve, powerful groundstrokes and relentless court coverage, she has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, more than anyone else in her sport's professional era, which began in 1968. More than half came from 2010-19: four at Wimbledon, three apiece at the U.S. Open and Australian Open, two at the French Open. That includes a run of four in a row from the U.S. Open in 2014 through Wimbledon in 2015, her second self-styled "Serena Slam." Williams also was the runner-up another seven times at major tournaments over the past decade, including four of the seven she's entered since returning to the tour after having a baby in 2017. In all, she made the final at 19 of the 33 majors she entered during the decade, a nearly 58% rate. The decade began inauspiciously in 2010, when Williams cut her feet on broken glass at a restaurant and was hospitalized with blood clots in her lungs. Among her many accomplishments, though: — reaching at least one Slam final every year, a streak that dates to 2007; — winning gold medals in singles and doubles (with her sister, Venus) at the 2012 Olympics; — becoming the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam singles trophy in the professional era; — becoming the oldest No. 1 in WTA history and equaling Steffi Graf's record for most consecutive weeks atop the rankings; — leading the tour with 37 singles titles, 11 more than anyone else in the decade. The day she won Wimbledon in 2016, Williams discussed the way she constantly measures herself. "I definitely feel like when I lose, I don't feel as good about myself," she said. "But then I have to, like, remind myself that: 'You are Serena Williams!' You know? Like, 'Are you kidding me?'" Williams continued with a laugh. "And it's those moments that I have to just, like, come off and be like, 'Serena, do you know what you've done? Who you are? What you continue to do, not only in tennis (but also) off the court? Like, you're awesome.'"

Lead Pipe (Source: Instagram @mischa_crewpublic)

Lead Pipe may not have been dealt a fair hand on Fantastic Friday but he played the cards he had to the best of his ability. With technical difficulties and glitches including issues with his microphone, sound and feedback causing him to have a false start and then occurring periodicallythroughout his act, Lead Pipe pushed through. He even had to beg the band more than once to play "low" to perform his piccong. The audience even helped him call for the band to lower their volume. To all his fans, friends and family, after putting down his performance last night, Friday, February 21,the 'Sometime' soca singer today wrote of Instagram: "I Wanna Say Thanks To All My Supporters,My Team,My Family And My Sponsors I Love Each And Everyone Of You And I Think My Commitment And Dedication To My Craft Is Enough Proof Of That. "I Am Not Bitter I Am Blessed, "Lastnight [sic] I Went With Jah And Carried Barbados On My Shoulders Proud Despite The Technical Difficulties....Just Know That LEAD PIPE Is Here To Stay. #lovecropover#wegathering#cookcaribbean#heartofachampion #formycraft#pipelineentertainment" Lead Pipe, who has picked up the alias Mr Sometime since 2019,has been performing in Trinidad for the 2020 Carnival season and for this year so far, he has touched down at parties in the United Kingdom and Canada as well. In 2019, with the hit 'Sometime'featuring and produced by DJ Jus-Jay, the duo won the Peoples Monarch 2019 and Road March or Tune of the Crop 2019 in Barbados. 'Sometime' also placed third in Barbados'Soca Monarch Final in its new format.

Prince Swanny's success in dancehall is inspiring many other youth across the country,

Carnival 2019 ended with the word ‘Zesser’ on everyone’s lips. The dancehall song by Trinidad Ghost landed with such an impact during Trinidad and Tobago’s famous festival that the word ‘Zess’, though not new, found renewed life as part of the daily slang. On January 1, the first fete day in the Carnival 2020 calendar, dancehall again became the talking point when a DJ was criticised on social media for looking for an easy forward when he played a 15-minute Trinidad dancehall set in theseason when Soca is king. Despite the controversy, Trini dancehall will be featured in one of four showcases tonight at the finals of the International Soca Monarch competition in a Zesser segment. The inclusion of the genre on such a main stage is a public acknowledgement of the power and influence of a sound that has taken over the ears of young T&T. Over the last three years, Trinidad dancehall has bubbled from the ghettos of T&T to cross social lines. From school bazaars to private upscale parties, Trini dancehall is blasted everywhere. To gauge the popularity of the genre, one only has to look to YouTube, where artistes have been racking up views in the hundreds of thousands to millions. Prince Swanny, the star of the pack, has over four million views for his song Dreams, released in June 2019. The video for the song which dropped in December, has over 2.2 million views to date. Jahllano, another big name in the genre, racked up over 702,000 views on his ‘Come for Nothing’ video which dropped a month ago. His video for ‘We Badness Expensive’, which dropped in October, has 1.4 million views to date. K Lion, the newest rising star, clocked over 1.6 million views for his ‘Malandros’ video which was released on December 21. YouTube has been the main platform through which the music is heard. Very few of these songs have made it to urban radio in T&T. KG of Reality Records “Social media played a role in how successful everything became. We definitely don’t need radio, it nice but we don’t need it,” says KG of Reality Records. KG is widely credited as the man who helped to ignite the new Trinidad dancehall movement. An artiste himself, he started singing dancehall four years ago and entered the Magnum Kings and Queens competition in Jamaica. He was one of three artistes from Trinidad who were selected when the show decided to expand its footprint beyond its home base. “I learned a lot about Jamaican culture, how it supposed to look and so on and I introduced the knowledge to one or two artistes around me. I had this vision to push young dancehall artistes and a year after I met Prince Swanny and Jahllano,” he says. “Swanny and I did our first song together, ‘My Team’, and it got a million views. From there it was like let us try to push the dancehall movement, so I started to shoot videos for them.” Swanny’s song ‘Brother Brother’, released in 2017, pushed the movement out of the hotspot communities and into national prominence. The song, which speaks about brotherhood, is one of the few that found itself in rotation on urban radio and earned Swanny recognition even from Jamaica. At the 2018 Redemption Concert at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain, Jamaican singer Tarrus Riley called Swanny up during his set and endorsed him as one to watch. Today, Swanny is touring beyond the region. He recently came off an American tour during which he appeared on Sway’s Morning Show with rapper Trinidad James. His meteoric rise is inspiring many others who are using the music as a vehicle to provide a legitimate income for themselves and create a lifestyle which some in their communities only built through ill-gotten gains. The artistes, who grew up listening to Jamaican artistes such as Vybz Kartel,bring the reality of their environments to life; defending their turfs, watching their backs, remembering fallen soldiers. In his song ‘My Journey’, Plumpy Boss sings about keeping to himself to avoid trouble. “My journey them boy they never walk with me, lonely soul every time you see me,” he sings. In ‘Dreams’, Swanny celebrates the life he is enjoying now, recalling the days he couldn’t eat or sleep. Their videos stay close to reality too, featuring guns, girls, gold chains and their favourite drink brands. Yet, their words resonate with people who have never walked in their shoes. Rheon Elbourne “We singing for Westmoorings as much as we singing for the ghetto,” says Rheon Elbourne, a dancehall artiste who started his journey in music with Prince Swanny and gospel artiste Jaron Nurse. “We singing on issues that everyone can relate to.” Elbourne, who leans toward more positive and inspirational music, is known for songs such as ‘Sometimes’ and ‘Build my Dreams’. He believes instead of criticising, we need to support the youth. “We need to support. We need to start trending support from now. As long as someone pushing to be something, we need to support,” he says. Elbourne, who admits to having past run ins with the law for minor crimes, said the music is helping them to reform their lives and develop legitimate businesses. “We are living off of our music,” he says. “I take two, three men off the street who working for me right now and handling their scene and making money as producers. The music is a way out,” says Elbourne who owns a label called DiffERent. He addedthanks to social media, dancehall artistes can make money through tools such as Adsense on YouTube and streaming platforms such as Spotify. “You see me lying down here, bareback with meh weed in meh hand, I making money on YouTube. You can make money from views and I buy products YouTube have to offer,” he says, revealing that his music is distributed globally through a platform called DistroKid. For rising star Rebel6ix, dancehall has definitely been his ticket to a different life. Rebel 6ix “Everywhere I go people know me. People want pictures with me, they want video, crying and holding my hand and I does be like whey boy,” he says, “It change my life, it change my focus. Real youth in the ghetto look up to me cause they know I was a normal youth with nothing. Dancehall totally change my life.” Rebel, real name Kyle George, is part of the Jamaican dancehall crew known as 6ix. A long-time fan of Squash, leader and founder of 6ix, Rebel hailed out the group in his first release ‘G City’ in 2018. The song caught the attention of Squash who invited the young man to join his movement. “I was already calling myself a 6ix because I liked them and I predicted they would be big. Squash was locked up and as soon as he come out, Daddy 1send me a video of Squash listening to my song. That was big surprise for me and after that Squash called me via video to chat. That was like a movie to me,” he tells Loop from his home in Bon Aire Gardens in Arouca, an area known ominously as Bompton. Being part of 6ix gives Rebel access to producers and riddims. The group sings what is known as Trap dancehall. Like Elbourne, Rebel is using the music to build a business. “An artiste can’t be in this business and be a quote on quote stupid person. You have emails to read, promoters to deal with, some promoters prefer to come straight to you instead of your manager so you have to know how to deal with people. You have to have knowledge of this business otherwise you will get rob,” he says. Asked why he preferred dancehall to soca, Rebel says like most youth of his generation that was the music he grew up hearing. Dancehall, he says, is not seasonal and also allows him to sing on range of topics. “We have plenty to express because we go through so much.” Rebel 6ix will be among the group pf dancehall singers in the Zesser segment of the 2020 International Soca Monarch (ISM).

Early Sights from Holetown Festival

Hundreds of tourists and locals flocked to the early morning portion of the Holetown Festival in itsnew rebrandee state under the WeGatherin' umbrella. On Saturday morningthe crowds came to enjoy the sights and sounds. Many vendors have taken up residence along the grassy areas throughout the St James town, and showcased their offerings of arts and crafts. Of the lot, numerous artisans with handmade and locally made pieces tookthe opportunityto further boost notice of the extensive wares the country had to offer. When Loopvisited, some vendors very much felt they were not going to reap dividends in the early morning but as one vendor put it, things were still "early going yet." One other vendor who also preferred to remain nameless, said they were wary of sales on a whole as they felt the patrons would be more inclined to browse and take in the sights of the Festival. With a large amount of clothing, plants, handmade toiletries and crafts to choose from, locals and visitors alike who are gathering in Holetown will have much to see at this year's Festival along the Platinum coast. [image_gallery]

February is designated as Black History Month but for people of African descent, we celebrate our greatness every month of the year! Today Loop Lifestylefocuses on black female inventors who have help to make our lives easier today. 1. Dr Shirley Jackson- She was the first African American woman to earn her PhDin nuclear physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her work has assisted in the field of telecommunications. As a result, the world benefited from fibre-optic cable, call waiting, caller ID, the portable fax and the touch tone telephone. 2. Madam C JWalker- Walker was born on a plantation to parents who were freed slaves. She invented a line of hair care products specifically for African Americans after she suffered from significant hair loss. This business eventually branched into manufacturing cosmetics and training sales beauticians. 3. Patricia Bath- In 1981, Patricia Bath invented a surgical tool called the ‘Laserphaco Probe’. This tool was used during eye surgery to help persons who suffered from cataract. 4. Marie Van Brittan Brown- She was the inventor of the first home security system. It is reported that she felt unsafe in her home and wanted more protection therefore leading to her invention. She created aradio-controlled wireless system which would transfer the image to a monitor, or set of monitors, positioned anywhere in the residence. At the monitor, a resident could not only see who was at the door, she could also talk with that person via a set of two-way microphones. A remote control option allowed her to lock or unlock the door from a safe, or more convenient distance. 5. Lyda Newman- Lyda Newman was an African-American inventor and women's rights activist. Newmanwas a hairdresser and received a patent for an improved model of a hairbrush. She also fought for women's right to vote, working with well-known women's suffrage activists.

Online shoppers with credit cards or Visa debit cards issued in Barbadoswill only pay taxes once and they will go to the benefit of Barbados' economy. Making this clarification as persons worry about the introduction on Value Added Tax (VAT) online and the probability of double taxation,Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, has gaveassurance that Barbadian consumers will not be double taxed when the 17.5 per cent VAT is introduced on online purchases. [related node_id='4767db1e-05e9-464a-8fb9-098320ec45d5'] The introduction of this tax online has been hindered and delayed due to hiccups in its application and collection, however, speaking the media after the official opening of Kooyman Megastore Barbados, Straughn said: "Right now, when you purchase goods from Amazon you pay certain State taxes wherever the good happens to be coming from, and therefore once we have that specific regime in place, then you wouldn’t be paying the State tax …. “Persons will not be taxed twice simply because you will not pay the domestic sales tax or whatever tax is there. You will pay the taxes in Barbados, which obviously helps to support the infrastructure here … and the delivery of public services in Barbados." He added that Government was working hard to ensure that once goods arrived at the border, the necessary information was shared so there was no double taxation, and the various processes would be seamless. However, Straughn reminded that there were certain goods and services which did not attract VAT, such as books and educational activities, and stressed that would continue in the digital space. The Minister noted that Amazon registered with the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) in November last year. He said with the implementation of ASYCUDA World, last September, and the introduction of the new tariff, the data now had to be shared with Amazon and other retailers. This means that the retail side with regard to the tax would be phased in soon. He said Government was in discussions with Airbnb to settle the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) for how the taxes would be transmitted, and their frequency. He noted that Government would continue to work with all partners to collect taxes as easily as possible and have them remitted into the Treasury.

Balancingexpenses withwants can be a tricky task with any income, but creating a plan for how your money will be spent can help you stay organised and avoid overspending. And hereare a few tips to help keep your finances on track, and hopefully keep you from going broke: 1.Draw a budget: List out your priorities (mortgage/rent, bills, etc). Be sure to make these easy steps so you don't feel overwhelmed. Once you've worked out these expenses in your plan, stick to it. 2. Track expenses: Keep those receipts! This can help you work out if you're getting the essentials or overspending. It's one of the easiest ways to stick to your budget and keep your spending in check. 3. Mind your food purchases: You have food at home! If you've made groceries, try sticking to preparing food at home rather than purchasing food from restaurants. If your fridge is stocked, there is no need to purchase "outside food". 4. Cut back on recreational activities: You don’t have to go out to have fun. Be mindful of how often you go out to the movies. Choose a night in over a night out and cut back on unnecessary shopping and you’re sure to save some money you can put toward covering those unexpected expenses. 5. Save as much as you can: A little goes a long way. Set a reasonable savings goal and in your budget work out what amount you can put toward savings each month. Thinking about what you want to accomplish in both the short-term and long-term with your savings is a great place to start.