By Hudson George
Trinidad and Tobago soca artiste Machel Montano is the perfect person to drive the soca train for soca music lovers throughout the Caribbean and beyond, even though our Grenadian soca artiste Mr Killa is the better stage performer. My reason for saying that is because Grenadians are not dedicated to the art form of soca music as Trinbagonians. In terms of marketing soca music and enhancing the art form industry, Grenadians are not ready as yet, although there are so many top quality Grenadian soca and calypso artistes.
Hudson George has a BA in Social Science from York University, Toronto, Canada. He has been writing since his early teenage years and now contributes letters and articles to a number of Caribbean newspapers
The problem Grenadian soca artistes are facing is, basically, the lack of promotion of their music. Unfortunately, those persons who are hindering the local music industry are the ones who supposed to do the promotion and marketing. The majority of radio programmers and disc jockeys in Grenada are young people who do not have the love for local music industry. They are more interested in foreign entertainment from the United States and Jamaica. Therefore, they are the ones who are not helping the music industry
They are attracted to ghetto culture from foreign artistes and they play mostly ghetto culture music to their listening audience, while local artistes’ music is not getting enough exposure, but whenever carnival season is official launched two months before the August celebration, these same radio programmers and disc jockeys are the first ones to play some local music content in order to capitalise on the carnival celebration.
However, it is no hidden secret that a large percentage of Grenadians are still suffering from the social disease of “small-island” inferiority complex. And whenever they are given the privilege to do things that are worthy for society, they become haters of progress. They will use their privilege and authority to destroy positive things, instead of making it bigger and better.
For example, a radio programmer who plays music on his/her shows might deliberately refuse to play some good songs from local artistes whom they personally dislike. And by so mischievously doing, they would rather play rude boy ghetto songs from foreign artistes, without realising the negative effects they are spreading among the youths, who are searching to find the realities of life.
On the other hand, there are some Grenadian soca and calypso artistes who made a big impact among Caribbean soca music lovers. For example, Ajamu is Grenada’s best calypso and soca artiste and his music is very popular throughout the English-speaking Caribbean countries and in the Diaspora communities. Artistes such as Tallpree, Inspector, Sheldon Douglas, and Randy Isaac are popular within the Caribbean communities, singing and entertaining their audience with their version of Grenadian music.
Other Grenadian artistes such as Flying Cloud, Super P and legend Johnny Rhythm have made their names big with soca hit songs that attract listeners beyond the Caribbean communities. As a matter of fact, Johnny Rhythm’s hit song Let It Go, is very popular throughout Africa. Super P’s hit song Peeping is popular in Europe. Now it seems as though Mr Killa and his Rolly Polly song has become a international hit too.
Presently, Mr Killa is carrying the Grenadian flag with his hit song Rolly Polly. As a matter of fact, Mr Killa is the best soca artiste performer on stage. He can dance and perform some unique acts and there is no doubt that his talent brought him on the big stage throughout the entire period of Trinidad and Tobago carnival 2014. He tied for second place with other soca artistes in the Trinidad and Tobago soca monarch competition, while Machel Montano won the title. And while some people believe his performance was good enough to win the competition, personally, I was not disappointed. There is no way the judges would have given him that great honour in Trinidad and Tobago.
The people of Trinidad and Tobago do not see soca and calypso as a seasonal entertainment. As a matter of fact they live in a carnival spirit 365 days of the year; and they understand the importance of creating a music industry. Therefore, if Mr Killa had won the soca monarch title, what would he have done after they crowned him, knowing that our Grenadian people do not promote soca and calypso music as Trinbagonians do?
Based on my personal observation, in Grenada the people who claim that they care about our culture and the promotion of culture are killing the culture. However, in Trinidad and Tobago, it is obvious that the people love culture and they are always looking for individuals within their society, who have the talent and the creativity to enhance the culture. As a matter of fact they are interested in Grenada’s culture and that is one of the reasons why they invite some Grenadian artistes to participate in their various soca monarch competitions. They know how to use bits and pieces of the Grenadian culture to enhance their culture.
Whether or not Mr Killa won the title, his top quality performance in the competition should be a lesson for us Grenadians, if we want to create a music industry. However, as Machel Montano continues to fly the soca flag for Trinidad and Tobago, what are we doing in Grenada to promote jab jab music?
We can sit back and talk all we talk about Mr Killa’s performance was the best and he should have won the soca monarch title in Trinidad and Tobago; and about how they did not give him. However, that will not change anything. Our biggest problem is we do not take culture seriously. Sometimes we tend to look down on those within society who have the talent to enhance the cultural industry and we will go all out to discredit them. Sometimes I wonder if we will ever learn what culture is and how to respect citizens who can help develop our cultural industry.
I am 100 percent certain that, throughout the entire Caribbean, only Grenadians have the habit of destroying their own people with talent and gravitate to other people’s talent, just for spite. And when I see how foolishly they usually do it, I laugh!