As things ramp up for carnival, the strains of soca seem increasingly in the air (& my inbox).
Believe it or not, there actually is a likkle soca in the air here in Boston. One key source projecting the strains of carnival into the city’s soundscape is BIG CITY FM, my fave “pirate” reggae/soca channel in town. It’s great just to be able to have such a reliable public resource for Caribbean pop & dance music (well, relatively reliable — at least, it’s a pretty clear signal close to the city). But what makes BIG CITY so special is that, for all the ways it reps for JA or T&T, it also sounds very Boston.
Case in point: Junior Rodigan, the Iranian-British bloke who mixes up UK, JA, and Bawstin accents seamlessly while chatting about the Celtics or the latest reggae scandal. (I’ve got an old, juicy interview with Junior — who takes his name from Father Rodigan, of course — which I should post here at some point.) Take, for example, this recent excerpt that I recorded in my car on my phone a couple weeks ago (on Bob’s b-day, as you’ll hear). It gives a sense of the Boston-Carib banter of BIG CITY, but the main reason I recorded it — and share it here — is b/c it offers another lovely example of how something like the beat from “Miss Indpendent” gets loosed from its connections to the original tune, serving here as but a background riddim for hyping local events (sorry, Stargate, u cyaaaan stop that) —
pardon the dict-iphone audio quality
As you hear at the end of the excerpt, showing the station’s broad musical mandate, they launch into a new track by Ryan Leslie (who, you may not know, once sang in the same gospel choir as yer boy, but that’s a story for another time). BIG CITY tends to mix up hip-hop, reggae, r&b, and soca, depending on who’s DJing. Sunday morning = serious slow jam oldies session, complete w/ pullups!
Anywaaayeee, during a soca block a couple weeks ago, I heard a song on BIG CITY which quite caught my ears — on its own musical merits, yes, but also, importantly, how it tugged on the strings of musical memory. It sounded like this (actually, a lot better before it hit my phone) —
I tried shazam-ing it but no dice, so I later quoted the memorable chorus to a trusty Trinny trainspotter —
heard a nice soca pon the radio yesterday. chorus goes, “wine wine wine wine wine wine wine wine wine wine wine wine wine wine wine wine wine wine,” and has a buju-sounding vocalist on it (bunji?). any tips?
to which —
Hope tings cool on your side, rasta.
That’s Iwer George and Ziggy Rankin…Ziggy Ranking is the gravelly voiced singjay, a budding talent from T&T. Iwer is the self-proclaimed ‘boss’, but I have my issues with dat artiste…one thing’s for sure, he’s a guaranteed hit maker.
De riddim BAD for days…it’s out of Barbados (who always impresses me with their soca productions, especially their groovy soca), but make sure to check out the Peter Ram track and the Rupee track on dat riddim (coconut tree).
Yup, that’s the one. As noted, what caught my ear wasn’t just the tune itself (though I do like the simple, catchy chorus) but the references to reggae, including a riddim relick and a vocal allusion.
I mentioned these features to my bredrin, who replied,
De FIRST time I heard dat riddim, I was like: now DAT is how you combine dancehall and soca! Bro, there was a time growing up in Trini that NO session was complete without a complete Cat classic set!
The Bajan crew responsible for the Coconut Tree is known as Monstapiece Inc. They produced Bunji Garlin and Family’s “By de Bar” a few years ago. Interestingly, the riddim for “By de Bar” (which also propelled an ode to fancy alcohol by TOK) is itself a relick of sorts, though it takes inspiration not from a reggae riddim but from a hip-hop song: Busta’s “Pass the Courvoisier” (produced by the Neptunes).
This seems to be their shtick, relicking hip-hop/r&b beats for soca songs: 50’s “P.I.M.P.” and R.Kelly’s “Snake” have also been relicked by the Monstapiece crew. (Hear and excerpt of the former here.)
& round & round we go. Par for the course at this point, I know. Don’t mean to sound like a broken record. Just think of all these copywrong posts as relicks of each other, or sumpm.
Anyhow, here’s a playlist on the Coconut Tree, if you care to listen. I must confess I do like that Iwer/Ziggy jawn, but that might be due to pure music nerdery —
Or, if you’d prefer to watch a CDjuggling —