In one of the Facebook groups I’m in, a fellow carnival junkie posed the following question.
“When were you introduced to Soca and who introduced you?”
I loved the question, but what I truly cherished were the memories that flooded my mind after I read it. I already knew the answers; they were… “from birth” and “my ma“. But y’all already know my response is not as simple as that. Brevity is not my thing when it comes to my culture.
So here’s my long winded response lol:
I was introduced to Soca and Calypso from the womb (back in ’82/’83 if you must know). It all started with my ma blasting Byron Lee and the Dragonnaires nonstop on … wait for it …VINYL! Byron and his band were ALL I knew for a loooong time.
During my adolescent years growing up in Turks and Caicos I started hearing more of our own music and also that from our Bahamian brethren like K.B and Sweet Emily! K.B. was my favorite island artist back in the early 90’s! By then, things had upgraded a bit and we were stocking up on various cassette tape mixes that my cousins would prepare for us. Since it would be a while until the next trip home we kept those mixes in constant rotation. God forbid the tape buss or unwind. “Somebody fetch the pencil and crazy glue pronto!” Lol!
I didn’t become infatuated with the more well known artists until the cassette tape era died out. By the mid 90’s we were still bumpin’ the cassettes heavy but thankfully CD’s had made their way into our lives as well. Byron Lee was now popping out albums on CD and Soca was inching it’s way into the local record stores. Once I started seeing legit Soca compilations in Strawberries (my Boston heads know about this) it was a wrap. It was on the back of these compilation covers that I started to learn the names of Soca artists and groups. Speaking of which, whah de ras happened to de bands?! Oh how I miss bands like Xtatik, Krosfyah and Square One. Ahhh yea, memories, deh “don’t live like people do. Deh always ‘membah you!” (Beenie Man excerp) LOL!
Anywho, once bootleg Soca mixes started flowing out the hood in the late 90’s it’s been a nonstop Soca-crack addiction ever since. Shout out to all my Codman Square Soca suppliers! Y’all got ALL my lunch money. “Shree” (3) Cd’s for $10?! SOLD!
From Vinyl, to cassettes, to CD’s! I thought to myself, “what could possibly be next?”! I’ll tell you what. Frikkin Napster, Lime Wire, Winamp and the rest of the “illegal” music download programs. Bwahahaha! Once I got a computer and went to college my life was changed for the better… SOCA on speed dial! My first generation iPods were easily filled with at least 5000 Soca songs. If you’re ever wondering what inspired my Instagram name it’s the Soca music library (Jukebox) I have embedded in my brain.
But on a very serious note, riddims and percussion aside, Soca gives me unspeakable joy. It keeps me connected to my roots. One of the things I love most about Soca music is how inconspicuous and sneaky the lyrics can be. Unlike many, Soca is a genre of music that people of all ages can listen to. Take Dancehall music for example. I grew up loving it and still do to this day, but honestly, I can only take so many “f-bombs” and vulgar content in one sitting. With Soca, there’s no need for me to cover a child’s ears while it’s playing. There are rarely any profanities or demeaning content and there is never a need for a “clean version“. I will say this though, when you become of a certain age the lyrics become quite comical and provide you with a whole new appreciation for de CHUNE!
Take this for example:
“2 sapodilla and a 9 inch banana…what she want? What she want?”
Like, are we REALLY talking about fruit here LOL? I’mma leave it at that, but that’s my boo Soca for yuh! She’s sneaky clean …the perfect balance of “sophistiratchet“!
Whether it’s groovy or pace I don’t discriminate. I truly believe that there is a time and place for every kind of Soca. I may take tiny breaks away from Soca, but I’ll never get tired of it. Soca fuh life!
Thanks so much for lending me some of your time. I’ve given you my answers, now it’s your turn. What’s your story? Why do you love Soca and how did your journey begin?