Of all the things that the Caribbean has given to the world, there is a very strong argument that music is the most popular export. There are plenty of great foods, a brilliant attitude to life and rum is a big favourite of a lot of people but when it comes to putting a smile on people’s faces and ensuring they hit the dance floor, Caribbean music is second to none. It is probably fair to say that most people’s awareness of Caribbean music extends to Bob Marley and reggae, which is a great starting point, but there is a lot more to Caribbean music than these popular focal points.
There is a lot to be said for calypso music, which drew on European and African influences. This has helped this style of music transfer well around the world as there are elements that people naturally associate with. While there are many different styles of calypso music, the most common or popular are the upbeat and happy tunes. These capture the essence of life in the Caribbean but they are also simple, allowing as many people to enjoy them as possible. Calypso music is found and created across the Caribbean, although it dates back to slavery times in the West Indies, and it is a style of music that has greatly been picked up in Trinidad.
While soca developed out of calypso music, there is an argument to say that this is now an even bigger cultural phenomenon. At Caribbean style carnivals all over the world, it is the sound of soca that is fuelling the dancing and revelry that is found. While there is some dispute over the origins of soca, it is generally attributed to the early 1970s, with many people citing Garfield Blackman from Trinidad as being the originator of this style of music.
Zouk is a Caribbean genre some people overlook
A Caribbean musical style that came to the fore in the 80s was Zouk, which has a strong rhythmic sense and is a style of music that became very popular in the French influenced islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. While this style of music is very much in touch with the overall feeling of Caribbean music, there is a strong influence from Kizomba, which is a musical genre which originated in the south of Africa. This style of music, whether played fast or slow, is one that never fails to get people on the dance floor.
Another style of Caribbean music that never fails to get people on the dance floor is dancehall. This style originated in the late ‘70s but it went over the top with regards popularity in the 1980s. This musical saw an MC or rapper rapping over musical sections that were heavily repeated often referred to as riddims. While being housed in Caribbean culture, this style of music was a strong bridge to the rap and hip-hop scenes that were taking place in America and around the world. Dancehall music is hugely popular in many countries around the world these days.