BussHead: The Video

I’ve been waiting for this video to be released for so many months now. I’d heard snippets from the set from the Producer, and some of the co-ordinators, and have waited with baited breath for its release and finally it’s out.

The video released on The Fader Friday.

My friend Laura at LoopTT interviewed Machel after the video came out, he told her, “The intention was to show the story of this youth acting out of anger and rage… that people were there for him to be able step in and help him channel that negative energy into something positive. That untapped raging energy could easily be used as a weapon to take someone’s life. Instead, the imagery is that two elder people stepped in and showed him that you could channel that energy into something positive so basically he became an instrument of the art which preserves the art and give the art longevity.”

I know that is something Keegan Taylor, one of the songwriters, and Rondel Benjamin feel passionately about. Keegan and Rondel are the principals that formed Bois Academy, a group that is determined to bring the indigenous martial arts of Trinidad and Tobago out of the shadows and into the light.

Rondel truly believes that our martial arts can provide a channel for the aggressive energy some of our youth have, and it through kalinda and jab jab, they can learn to harness that anger and turn it into positive energy.

Jab and Kalinda

Bois Academy has teamed up with Ronald Alfred the King of the Jab Jab to offer training in Kalinda and Jab Jab every Sunday 4pm at St. George’s Grounds in Barataria.

Check them out!

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Busshead on ILTV’s The Stew

Bahamas Carnival just ended and Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin were there. It was the first time the pair performed their soca hit Busshead outside of Trinidad. The duo were interviewed about their collaboration, and careers, on ILTV’s chat show The Stew.

They’ve (the show’s producers) posted the entire episode online, so you can fast forward to the 19.28 mark for the Bunji and Machel interviews.

 

That said, I ended up watching the entire programme because they spoke about the epic failure that was Fyre Festival. In a nutshell Fyre Festival was supposed to be an ultra-exclusive music festival on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma. It failed miserably, with lawsuits being filed, but of particular concern for us here in the Caribbean is where it would affect the tourist interest in our music festival, like Tobago Jazz. I like this article in Billboard for exploring those concerns nicely.

I liked the conversation on The Stew, because it’s a Bahamian chat show, so it was nice to hear their perspective on the fiasco.

And I’ve just noticed something, last post I shared Dionne Jackson-Miller’s All Access, today I shared The Stew. I wish we had more local and regional content on our televisions in Trinidad. That’s something I want to discuss, and will  probably do so in another post soon.

I’d never heard of The Stew before, but I know Aneka Stewart from her Insta-account @caytostyle. She’s fab. And I may start watching the show on the regular.

We’ll see.

Favourite Books

Interviewing Debbie Jacob
The was at the Bocas Lit Fest’s Voices From Inside event at the Port-of-Spain Prison. Debbie Jacob is a writer, who has several literary courses within the local prison system.

The Voices From Inside event was one of those really nice and hopeful events that make you believe in the potential of us all to do good things. It was a showcase of the prisoners’ poetry, and a reading from Dr. Baz Dresinger’s new book Incarcerated Nations. She had travelled all over, looking at our prison systems. Too many of them are holding cells for people, and do very little to reform or treat their ills. Too many are soul-destroying cages.

It was nice listening to the prisoners’ poetry. It was really nice to see how their fellow inmates responded to the work. One guy was clearly the prison saga boy, with shades and ting. I wish I was able to take a picture, but we had to hand in our cell phones to security.

It was also nice that for Baz’s book, they drafted local celebrities Kees Dieffenthaller, Machel Montano and Anya Ayoung-Chee to read excepts. Kees also performed, and Mohammed Muwakil, singer and well-known spoken word artist, opened the proceedings. It was a great showcase for the prisoners.

As a journalist I knew that I was going to talk to as many people as I could. Since the event was a Bocas Lit Fest event, I decided, let’s ask people what their favourite books were. So that’s what I did, and here are their answers.

Here’s a list of the books mentioned:

  • Mohammed Muwakil: Seed to Harvest by Octavia Butler
  • Anya Ayoung-Chee, Kees Dieffenthaller & Machel Montano: The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
  • Kees Diefenthaller: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
  • Machel Montano: The Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
  • Dr. Baz Dresinger: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

If you were to ask me that very same question, my books are The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, and Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. And an honourable mention to Wine of Astonishment by Earl Lovelace, because I felt like I was buzzing while reading it. I was simply overcome with the sensation that it was meant to be read aloud.

Happy Reading!

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.

 

Carnival Calendars

If you are coming to Trinidad for Carnival bookmark this post because it has the dates of all the must-see, never-been-to-but-want-to, and regional Carnival events for Carnival 2017.

This first is from the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts.culture-carnival-calendar-2017

The Second is from the National Carnival Commission. This one is the one to bookmark for stickfighting and parades of the bands.

ncc-calendar-of-events-2017

Fetes are an important part of the festivities. Bishop’s was last Saturday and I had a ball. So keep following your Trini friends on Facebook and check the fete calendar here . See you at Army Fete

 

Machel vs Bunji

It’s a Carnival miracle. The blog title is a lie. The feud is over. Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin are together on one track and it’s fire!

Heh HA! Fanism unlocked. I lurve eet!

My friend Keegan Taylor, soca producer, stick fighter is one of the writers. I heard the song and immediately called him to congratulate him on a fantastic track. It’s full of magic. Especially if you know about Trinidad culture; Joe Tamana and patwa. It speaks to your very soul.

The name of the song is Buss Head.

It’s your 2017 Jouvert anthem. You are welcome.

Destra’s Carnival

Despite a rocky 2 years, Destra Garcia is determined to produce a concert for Carnival 2017. The Queen of Backannal announced that we can definitely expect a Destra concert from her this year. If you remember, her 2015 concert was plagued by late arrivals, but was positively reviewed. Last year she cancelled her 2016 offering mere days before showtime. She thinks 2017 will be her year, and I support the soca star with her plans.
But Destra is a problamatic artist for me. I see her as a performer who lacks focus. Destra, at this point in her career still doesn’t know who she is as an artist. I see her jumping on trends with little to no sign of her personality on the track. I know that she can perform, and she is among the best, but I think that I have more faith in her ability than she has in herself.

Looking at her offering for Carnival this year, I’m still waiting. I have issues with the scripting of this song, but the visuals are lovely. I want to find that jetty and take pictures there.  The song is nice, but it seems fake, the language, implied accent, I can’t get behind it at all.

I don’t have words to express the levels of hate I have for this video. What is it? Who are you as an artiste? There is no authenticity in the performance, vocally nor visually. I’ve seen those gangsta posturing on TV. Destra looks like she watched the same programme that I did, and is as great of an actress that I am. It’s simple not a convincing performance.

We can do hip hop here. We can do soca-infused hip hop. Look at Nebula 868. He’s of that community, and does a convincing hybrid.

Destra vs Lucy works. Destra is cute and playful, if a bit subdued in the video. Some of the costuming needs work, I’m speaking about the Black, sweater combo in particular, but I really like her lyric video concept.

As an aside, I’m working on a piece on soca music videos, so stay tuned for that piece.

Uncle Ellis’ Christmas Present for the Carnival Babies

Soca’s favourite winer boy, sorry Machel, has entered the soca arena. We featured the song before on this blog, but yesterday, as a present for the Carnival babies, the video was released on YouTube.

A few years ago, Uncle Ellis was a Port of Spain sensation for dancing in front of KFC Independence Square to the music from the CD vendors. Videos of him went Trini viral and a career was born.

He seems to have a good management team, who’re actually seeing about his welfare. If I’m not mistaken, Uncle Ellis now has a BMobile contract as a sponsor.
I like the video. He makes reference to his life before infamy. His treatment on the streets and his subtle critique of our casual and not so casual violence to the downtrodden.

Plus, the damn song is catchy.