Soca Artistes and Vincentian Youth

In my news-blog report on the the Junior Calypso and Junior Soca Monarch competition in Kingstown on Tuesday, I wrote, in part, “… calypso bards spoke to social issues and soca don and divas showed that they are good students of their seniors…. The soca category of the show was dominated by the “jump and wave” and gyrating that has become characteristic of the soca art form here.”

Anyone who attended Tuesday’s show could easily see that the future of calypso, as an art form in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is in dire straits.

In fact, when master of ceremonies Val Mattias asked at the end of the show if the audience liked the calypso segment, the young Vincentians chorused in a decisive, loud and resounding “No!”

Soca music moves Vincy youth in a way that most calypsoes do not.

Soca music moves Vincy youth in a way that most calypsoes do not.

The response was quite the opposite when he asked about the soca segment. The audience was virtually salivating in anticipation for the performances of senior soca artistes Fireman Hooper, Jamesy P, and Luta.

People are free to choose which of the art forms they prefer. I have absolutely no qualms with that.

My contention is that there is no need to have provocatively-dressed young ladies, some hardly 16 years old, dancing the most tantalizing and gyrating moves in a show for our youth. Also, we cannot have guest artistes sending mixed messages, especially after the young calypsonians labored so hard (and against the odds) to highlight the dangers of substance abuse and promiscuity.

“Kenton, we are breeding a generation of revelers,” one of my media colleagues commented to me during the soca segment of the show, noting the crowd of young and impressionable minds.

While the themes and contents of most of the youngsters’ soca songs were wholesome and appropriate, in terms of their performance, it seems that the youngsters and those who had helped them to prepare their presentations had copied wholesale many of the things that they see on display during the senior competition.

One artiste went as far as challenging a young lady to come on stage so that he could put her wineing (sp?) skills to the test.

The CDC cut this performance as they young artiste prepared to do his "daggering"-like moves with a second member of the audience.

The CDC cut this performance as they young artiste prepared to do his "daggering"-like moves with a second member of the audience.

The young lady, who had been living in North America for the past almost four years, probably thought she was in for traditional challenge.

Only that the young man jumped onto her, grabbed her by the thighs and lifted her precariously into air in a manner that resembles the “daggering” that has become popular in Jamaican clubs and has claimed the life of at least one young woman there.

The organizers of the show wisely ended the performance by having the band stop playing and one journalist commented to the artiste that he should leave such things for the national soca monarch show.

Soca seniors Luta, Jamesy P and Fireman Hooper also crossed the line during their guest appearance.

The artistes sang of “looking some nookie tonight” and their love for rum before catching themselves and extemporaneously modifying their songs to tell the audience to concentrate on their studies, postpone sex, avoid underage drinking and drink responsible when they are old enough to do so legally — closing the stable door after the horse had bolted but damage control nonetheless.

Gone are the days when double entendre was used to weave sexual connotations in soca and calypso. Today, sexual themes in our music is so ubiquitous and so thinly veiled that the youngest, least socially aware of our children needs no help in deciphering them.

It seems that in every facet of our society women are increasing being valued based solely on their worth as sex objects. One female artiste in her song this year celebrates “All de big thing gal” while a male in his piece encourage the woman with whom he has an extra-marital affair to treat her husband as good as she used to so that he will not suspect her infidelity.

I wonder why the family in SVG is under so much threat.

Artiste like Fireman Hooper can be used to influence Vincentian youth into positivity.

Artiste like Fireman Hooper can be used to influence Vincentian youth into positivity.

After witnessing Fireman Hooper’s performance at last year’s competition, there is no doubt that the artiste is well loved by and has great influence on Vincentian youth. He moves them in a way that no other artiste can. Jamesy P and Luta and every other artiste in SVG also have their following.

The artistes who are invited to perform at the CDC shows must modify the lyrics of their popular songs to teach ouryouth lessons that will be to their benefit. Why not go further and write a song, individually, or as a group, specifically for the youth, in much the same way that Vincentian artistes did in the fights against HIV/AIDS.

And, lest anyone doubt the potential positive impact of artiste on their listeners, can anyone remember the attitude that many of our young men adopted when Jamaican artiste Beenie Man sang about not wanting girls with “bag pon back” (students)?

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4 thoughts on “Soca Artistes and Vincentian Youth

  1. well said Kenton, as I was listening to the Soca Dans performance I said their choice of songs were definitely inappropiate for school kids, they tried to cover it up but the damage was already done.

  2. Very good article Kenton, I definitely agree with the views u so well expressed.
    If shows are being put on specifically for children then the guest artistes and entertainment available should obviously be appropriate for such. Sometimes you wonder what are the requirements and factors taken into considering when determining who are the artistes who perform at these shows or even more so what sort of guidelines or restrictions are given to these artistes, cause clearly the artistes themselves are not capable of determining what is appropriate.
    Those in authority needs to start paying close attention to the decisions they make in these situations, because believe it or not, these things that we overlook has great effects on the mess our country keeps drowning itself in…

  3. Excellent article. Over the past years i have been an advocate for screening of this kind of purely irresponsible and vulgar music, however it seems as if no one is concerned. Then we see a rise in crime and a sharp increase in local PORN on the internet and we wonder why these things are happening in our blessed country. NO STANDARDS MAN! That kind of song should be left for the 18 and over shows, but wait ! Do we have such a limitation at shows?

  4. I agree with your piece. I would like to add some thoughts though. There is much that would need to be done to “clean up” carnival to become something more wholesome and even family oriented. Doing this would make it a national festival one might truly be proud of. What happened at the Junior Calypso/Soca competition is just a small manifestation of a much larger problem. Young people will quick;y see the double-standard if they cannot participate in all that is representative of revelry and vulgarity of the season. Unfortunately, I doubt there is a large push to change things for the better.

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