Soca music has come a long way since its creation in the early 1970s. It has evolved and been perfected by many artists in the Caribbean and abroad. Earlier this month, Drake co-Signed soca star Machel Montano. This major move means a lot for the Caribbean, especially the soca market. All eyes are on us now more than ever, which means our music should showcase TOP QUALITY. Here are a few things we need to address in the soca market.
Prejudice and Racism in the industry
Diversity is what makes the Caribbean so magical. It should go without saying that no matter what colour or background, if you have talent and the ability to sing soca, you shouldn’t be discouraged. Our music should be inclusive, whether a White, Black, Indian, Spanish, Chinese or even Japanese person is singing it. We all have the same mission, which is to take the music further, so continue to do so with passion and integrity.
Lyrical content in soca songs
We know that artistes want to cater to the folks that want to wine and wuk up their waist. I get it; when soca music plays, you need to make sure you get that “extra piece of juk down.” But, does every soca song need to have the word bumper in it or center on winin’? What about tunes with more diverse lyrical content that talk about having a good time and falling in love?
Creating more platforms for younger artistes
There is a huge amount of talent that comes from the youth across the West Indies. Besides a junior calypso monarch, there should be something that helps breed the talent that these young soca stars (30 years and younger) have. Whether these are artiste development and mentorship programs, donating studio space or otherwise, there should be as many opportunities as possible to support the future of soca.
Don’t forget the roots and what worked
Some of the most anticipated songs and riddims in parties this year incorporated live instruments (tassa, brass, iron, guitar, etc.). Although I understand the argument that soca should be infused with other things, it doesn’t mean that including some traditional elements isn’t just as good. It makes the music sound authentic.
Creating more opportunities to showcase soca music
Every year — whether it’s the International Soca Monarch in Trinidad or Soca Royale in Barbados — it seems like every year there is a problem with the stream. People pay their hard-earned money to get a set of buffering and low quality work. Why is it that in 2016, no one has realized that the Soca Monarch competition has enough value for the whole world to be watching? As the market for soca continues to grow, we should be investing in distributing quality content for the world to see, thus showcasing the culture as best we can.
Playing Soca year-round
Just because Carnival is over, that doesn’t mean you stop playing Soca. There are certain stations that literally switch back to Hip-Hop and Dancehall one hour after road march is announced. Why is it that there is a culture built around foreign music instead of local music? This isn’t just typical of one country: St. Vincent, Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia and Antigua all respectively follow this trend.