Reggae music is always going to be intrinsically a part of the Caribbean musical output but there is an argument to say that it is no longer the dominant musical force in this part of the world or for the Caribbean diaspora all across the world. If you attend any major Caribbean carnival or listen to Caribbean music stations, you will find that it is soca that is sound tracking the biggest parties and major events.
There is no denying that soca music is upbeat music that makes you feel good. There will be plenty of people around the world who hear soca music and who will call it a reggae song. Technically it isn’t and some people will get upset about this but at the end of the day, if people are enjoying good music from the Caribbean, does it really matter what they call it?
The first big international hit that was a soca song was ‘Hot, Hot, Hot’, which was released in 1982 by Alphosus ‘Arrow’ Cassell. This is a song that has become bigger than anyone would have imagined, featuring in films and TV shows in all variety of scenes. It is the song that perfectly captures the mood of a summer party but it also works on a number of other levels. With this song, and the many similar songs that followed in its wake, soca music reached out to the world and gained a lot of popularity and praise.
Soca derived from calypso music
While soca music clearly derives from calypso music and is a step on from this style, there is no doubt that it stands out on its own. Calypso music is often about the storytelling process and it has a wide range of rhythms to put its point across. Soca music is much more to the point and the point is to make sure people have a good time and engage and interact with each other. This is why this style of music is the perfect accompaniment to any party or event because it is the sort of music that always puts a smile on people’s faces.
This ambition and aim is still at the heart of soca music but there has been an evolution and progression of the style in recent times. As musical tastes develop and people become more focused on foreign markets, there has been a diversion, dilution and development of what people would classify as the soca sound. However, this is how soca music developed from calypso music and no doubt it is how some new form of Caribbean music will develop from soca music. No matter what new musical style is derived from soca music though, you can rest assured that there will still be a great deal of interest in the main style of these songs.
If you are keen to keep in touch with the latest stars and emerging artists in the soca scene, keeping a close eye on the Carnival listings for the acts will be a strong indicator. Names like Machel Montano, Kerwin Du Bois, Bunji Garlin, Mr. Killa, Farmer Nappy, Destra Garcia and Blaxx are all huge. There are even soca artists coming from outside of the Caribbean with the success and growing popularity of US soca star Lyrikal being a source of entertainment and debate in the soca scene.