Dancehall vs Soca

There’s a conversation that takes place in Jamaica about Dancehall versus Soca very regularly. And that conversation gets very heated around Jamaica Carnival.

It’s a hard conversation for me to listen to, because having lived in Jamaica – I studied at UWI, Mona – I hear the xenophobia in the comments. Too often when Jamaican talk about soca, there’s shade and there’s the blatant attacks. The Jamaican who likes Soca isn’t in the majority. And this upsets me, because Trinidad plays Dancehall like if it’s we ting on radio. Local DJs love to talk in pseudo-Jamaican accents on the radio, but where the music we love is getting made, they scorning Soca. And why shoudn’t they, when we don’t love it enough ourselves.

I think it’s worthy of note that Jamaicans don’t seem to be as threatened by or condescending of Rap and Hip Hop, as they are of Soca.

Having said that, I think that it is funny that if you switch the accents and location, this is a very similar to the conversations we’ve had about Dancehall. Not as heated, but I am both amused and shocked to see Soca being spoken of as though it is a threat to Dancehall. And that has me wondering if something else is at play.

I want you to look at the current affairs show All Angles. Dionne Jackson-Miller hosted a panel that included Dr. Kai Baratt, Marlon Campbell and Dr. Donna Hope. At some point, while watching it, I started to realise that the way Soca was introduced to Jamaica was completely at odds with it’s origins. And that disconnect is jarring. I find Jamaica Carnival’s positioning as an elitist festival very disturbing. Always have. While Trinidad Carnival has created the all-inclusive model that contributes to it’s increasingly upper class tone, because it’s “we ting”, our lower classes feel entitled to it in ways lower class Jamaicans do not. So while there are attempts to make Carnival “all-inclusive” with the view to exclude; the Jamettes, the Saga boys and the Bwa Men who created de ting have the real ownership of the mas, and will find a space, always.

I think that Jamaica needs to re-visit it’s relationship with Carnival. They have to find a way to make it true to them, in a positive way. And that positive has to be more than benefits it may add to it’s tourism model.

That said, I’m way more interested in Trinidad Carnival and fixing what ails us. And for me, that’s such a difficult question to answer, I guess because it’s emotional.

 

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A Caribbean Culture Reader

Meagan Sylvester shared this on her page last September 2nd. It popped up in my Facebook reminder and I thought, that this is the best place to post it, because it’s such a great list of papers and essays on our music and Carnival customs etc. So without further adieu:

Mason, Peter. 1998. Bacchanal? The Carnival Culture of Trinidad. London; Philadelphia: Latin American Bureau; Temple University Press.

Liverpool, Hollis Urban. 1998. Origins of rituals and customs in the Trinidad Carnival: African or European?. TDR/The Drama Review 42, no. 3: 24-37.

Liverpool, Hollis. 2001. Rituals of Power and Rebellion: The Carnival Tradition in Trinidad and Tobago, 1763 – 1962. Chicago, Trinidad and Tobago: Research Associates School Times; Frontline Distribution.

Stolzoff, Norman C. 2000. Wake the Town and Tell the People; DanceHall Culture in Jamaica. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Rouse, Marilyn A. 2000. Jamaican Folk Music: A Synthesis of Many Cultures. Studies in the History and Interpretation of Music. Vol. 66. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press.

Regis, Louis. 1999. The Political Calypso: True Opposition in Trinidad and Tobago, 1962 – 1987. Barbados; Gainesville: Press University of the West Indies; University Press of Florida

Besson, Gerard, and Angostura Bitters Limited. 2001. The Angostura Historical Digest of Trinidad and Tobago. Cascade, Trinidad and Tobago: Paria Pub.: Angostura.

Cowley, John. 1996. Carnival and Calypso: Traditions in the Making. Cambridge; New York, NY: Cambidge University Press.

Dudley, Shannon. 2008.Music from Behind the Bridge: Steelband Spirit and Politics in Trinidad and Tobago. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Dudley, Shannon. 2004. Carnival Music in Trinidad: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture. Global Music Series. New York: Oxford University Press.

Elder, J.D. 1972. From Congo Drum to Steelband: A Socio-Historical Account of the Emergence and Evolution of the Trinidad Steel Orchestra. St. Augustine, Trinidad: The University of the West Indies.

Feld, Steven. 1984. Sound Structure as Social structure. Ethnomusicology 28 (3): 383-409.

Frith, Simon. 1996. Performing Rites: On the value of popular music. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Gibbons, Rawle. 1994. No Surrender: A biography of the Growling Tiger. Tunapuna, Pantheon Books.

Guilbault, Jocelyne. 2007. Governing Sound: the cultural politics of Trinidad’s carnival musics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Hill, Donald R. 1993. Calypso Callaloo : Early carnival music in Trinidad. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Lipsitz, George. 2007. Footsteps in the Dark: The Hidden Histories of Popular Music. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Liverpool, Hollis. 1990. Kaiso and Society. Diego Martin, Trinidad, W.I.: Juba Publications.

Nettleford, Rex M. 1995; 2002. Calypso monograph. Caribbean Quarterly Monograph. Mona, Jamaica: Caribbean Quarterly.

Rausert,Wilifried. 2000. Negotiating Temporal Differences: blues, jazz and Narrativity in African American Culture. Heidelberg, Germany: Heidelberg.

Rohlehr, Gordon. 1990. Calypso & Society in Pre-Independence Trinidad. Port-of-Spain, Trinidad: G. Rohlehr.

Ryan, Selwyn D., Gloria Gordon. 1988. Trinidad and Tobago: The Independence Experience, 1962-1987. The University of the West Indies. Institute of Social and Economic Research St. Augustine, Trinidad: Institute of Social and Economic Research, The University of the West Indies.

Stone, Ruth M., Verlon L. Stone. 1981. Event, Feedback and Analysis: Research Media in the Study of Music Events. Ethnomusicology. Vol 25 (2): 215-225.

Williams, Eric Eustace. 1984. From Columbus to Castro: The History of the Caribbean, 1492-1969. 1st Vintage Books ed. New York: Vintage Books.

Williams, Eric Eustace. 1964. History of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. New York: Praeger.

Alleyne, Mike. 2009. Globalisation and Commercialisation of Caribbean Music. World Music Roots and Routes. Collegium. Tuulikki Pietila. (ed). Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences 6. Helsinki: Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. 76–101.

Hope, Donna. 2006. Inna De DanceHall: Popular Culture and the Politics of Identity. Kingston: Jamaica. The University of the West Indies Press.

Howard, Dennis. 2012. Rantin from Inside the Dancehall. Jamaica: Jahmento Publishers