For Soca Artists Soca Music

6 obstacles Vincy soca must overcome

This is a must read for every Vincy artist, producer, DJ and creator.

The following is an opinion piece from DJ JEL. The views of DJ JEL is not necessarily the views of the Di Soca Analysts team. This is written from my perspective as an International Soca DJ, someone looking in from the outside. I am not of Vincentian descent, however I’ve watched and created content for Vincy Mas over 10 years now and I make it my mission to play Vincy soca across the globe.

Flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

For as long I could remember, I’ve been an avid fan and listener of Vincy soca (soca music originated from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines). I grew up to the styles of Winston Soso, Kevin Lyttle, Touch, Bomani, Troots N Ice and Jamesy P. Over the years I’ve watched the transition of the artform and the growth of two most prominent artists, Skinny Fabulous and Problem Child.

There’s a lot of talented people in SVG and they all have an equal role in the success of the music. Personally, I think that Vincy soca can be much better than it is now, and there’s a lot of factors that is holding SVG back from reaching further than it is now. Let’s go through them!

6. Consistency in the production, mixing, writing, mastering and sound engineering of songs

Video Blocks

There are a few new producers on the scene, but there isn’t much of an investment in finalizing the production of releases. The arrangement of some releases don’t have a proper musical structure. The vocal production and harmonies/melodies are missing and the kick and percussions aren’t always aligned. In the last couple of years, the lyrical content also fell dramatically.

It seems like artists don’t invest in the production of their songs and/or get it rushed to a point where the song isn’t ready for consumption. Production value can make or break the success of a song.

5. Creating a balance between ragga soca and power soca

There’s an ongoing debate that Vincy soca is power and that because Vincentians doh party normal, power should be to envoke the energy that is Vincy Mas. Although Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is popularly known for power, ragga soca is also just as popular. Matter a fact, ragga soca releases like “Wet” by Bomani, “Turn Me On” by Kevin Lyttle and “Nookie” by Jamesy P, put Vincy soca on the map.

Kevin Lyttle’s, “Turn Me On” was an international ragga soca hit topping charts across the world.

In 2005, “Nookie” reached #14 on the UK Singles chart and #54 on the US R&B and hip hop bill board charts

There’s a trend in putting out energetic power soca and creating more local Vincy songs that can mash up rural carnivals. The thing with this is when you saturate one market, the others are left out. I do think a balance between the two can help the music. Artists like L Pank, Mason, Maddzart, Hance, Jamesy P, Nikki D Diva and a few others have brought out quality ragga soca songs. Sometimes they are often overlooked in the season because of power soca.

4. Making music that can live beyond carnival and Vincy mas

Though there’s nothing wrong with singing about jump, wave, strong rum and mashing up everything, there are more topics to touch on in soca music. I get that some of the topics is traditional to the culture and mas, however soca music has evolved to be much more than that. Soca music is much more than carnival now, it can affect anyone in any given place. A few artists have explored the realm outside of what was traditionally done.

BlessingsA conscious soca song released in 2018.

Something About You- Spade| A ragga soca contribution uplifting women

Ants In Yuh Sugar Pan | a power soca song about horn

This Island Is Mine | a ragga soca contribution and tribute to SVG

3. Increasing access and distribution

Distribution for Vincy soca is almost non-existent. The majority of Vincy artists that release for the season usually blast out a YouTube link and it stops there. There needs to be more ground work so that people in Vincy and outside of Vincy can hear their songs.

From a digital perspective, artists should create an email list for DJs, radio, press and influencers. Vincy soca should be published and distributed on digital platforms such as Apple Music (formerly iTunes), Google Play, Soundcloud, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora, etc….

For DJs in the soca music industry, Vincy artists should blast their music out on Julianspromos, The Bass (Formerly known as Lee’s Designs), The Soca Vault, Vincy Connect, Vincy Powa and Riddimstream.

Julianspromos also offers digital distributions across various platforms.

2. Embracing and encouraging the younger generation when they do something against “the norm”

Hance- Love of Pan

There’s a lot of talented artists in Vincy who don’t want to be boxed into just doing what the generation before them have done. This year, a handful of artists went outside of what was traditional and fused traditional Vincy soca with sounds from the other islands.

Wetty Beatz’s contribution “Syé Pa Mele” is a power soca song that was bouyon influenced and had a creole chorus.

Inspired by the sounds of Saint Lucia, Dymez and Da Pixel created a dennery segment track “Sidung Pon.”

Skinny Fabulous and the Black Rave team created the “Shell Down Boss” competition, this encourages younger artists to put on their best performance and encourage a fiery crowd response. I think this a step in the right direction and pushes artists outside of their comfort zone.

1. Encouraging women in the industry

Fya Empress

Women in the industry are often discouraged from singing due to attitudes related to general public. Some women are chastised when they sing their contributions and are often ridiculed into not singing at all. Though soca music on a whole is a male dominated industry, there is room for women there. I’ve heard stories where some women are degraded and they are told that the only reason they are doing well in the industry is because of “she bull man to get where she is.”

Carnival is woman, regionally artists like Nikita (Barbados), Patrice Roberts (Trinidad & Tobago), Nadia Batson (Trinidad & Tobago), Kisha (St. Lucia) and Claudette Peters (Antigua) have made strides. They release music on an annual basis and though there’s a level of fight down in the soca industry, they are still persistent.

Artists like Reka Gaymes, Fya Empress, Zoelah, Shaunelle Mckenzie, Sita and Danielle Veira are a few of Vincy’s best. Given the right opportunity, they will play a major part in how the music grows and travels outside of SVG.

There you have it! I encourage feedback and your own views. Leave them in the comments below.

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14 comments

  1. Congratulations 🎉 DJ Jel,can’t say any better for a non Vincentian u uplift our culture u give strength an support to our music by pushing it out there
    As a fan and a listener of ur mix,u speaks on all aspects of soca music locally regionally an internationally,now the artiste,producers DJ’s an radio announcers all play a major role in this,we all need to come together to build soca music.for instance look at our great Winston soso our great Becket Cyrus our great Cornelius Poorsah,Godfrey Dublin an lively,dey all contributed a lot to vincy soca ,but what am saying encourage d youths help lift them up if u retired from d business u can still write songs an give d youths to try an make it a hit

    Plz don’t make out culture die like that::Daz my take on it💯Once again congratulations to u DJ JEL for a job well done for what u have been doing over d years an still doing now
    Continue the good works #784🇻🇨🇻🇨🇻🇨

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts. I fully agree with everything you said as well, we have to make sure that Vincy culture and soca music doesn’t die. It’s way too sweet for it to just stay in Vincy. Internationally, it can and will change the world.

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  2. I agree with your analysis. Another important facet is copyright collections, which can spread income streams away from just Vincy Mas. Sustained quality and diversity will result. Thus far, radio stations do not pay royalties. The lone copyright agency has much work to do to instill confidence, educate artistes and collect/distribute royalties.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true, we’re hoping that royalties can be awarded to more artists. Skinny, Jamesy P, & Problem have figured out how to get ahead of it but in other markets.

      Like

  3. As a former radio announcer and club dj, I’m FULL agreement every single point u made.
    I would like to add that dj’s need to play role that’s bigger than just the hype. They need to accept their responsibility in helping to forge and strengthen our product.
    They have to think past the shellinz.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey Jel,

    I’ve just started delving into Vincy soca, so I appreciate the perspective. I’ve definitely raised an eyebrow at the production of some tracks that have great vibes and potential. Your mix is prepping me for when i touch down this year for the first time. Keep the discussions going, love it!

    TESS

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope you enjoy vincy and vincy mas, the energy out there is crazy and unlike any other carnival so far. Be safe and enjoy Vincy mas

      Like

  5. Hey Jel,

    I loved this piece, I’m just getting into Vincy Soca now so I don’t have any extensive commentary but I have raised an eyebrow at the mastering of some songs I’ve heard. I’m loving your mix now, I’m headed over there on the 6th.

    Bless up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Charles,

      Thanks for taking the time to read it. Glad to hear you loving the mix, I have one more to drop closer to vincy mas. Enjoy SVG and be safe, be sure to visit Bequia, Union Island and Mustique if you get a chance.

      Like

  6. Very well detailed incite. As a non Vincentian it’s good to see you push such support that’s admirable. As you can see the only time most are concerned with making music is at carnival time. The love for their own soca music is part time. June/July and that’s it. Sad to say … not a lot of people are gonna even read this article.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, we realised that too, it’s not much different from Trinidad & Tobago to be honest. Our hope is that the 5% of people who actually read the article execute it and continue to push vincy soca forward. If it helps at least 1-2 people then it will spread.

      Like

  7. i say yes to every thing you wrote 100 👍. i’m fan of your mixes and to knon your not a vincy and every year you take the to put our music out there much love!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Jas,

      Thanks for the feedback and reading. Yeah, years back Vincy soca I fell in love with, since then I’ve been doing everything in my power to push the music forward. Hoping things like this also helps.

      Like

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