WHAT IS SOCA?
Soca music, originally coined “Sokah”, is known as a blend of soul and calypso music. It has influences of African and East-Indian rhythms and originates from Trinidad and Tobago. That’s the official definition. My definition, however, is the best genre of music you will ever listen to in your life.
The genre has developed into various styles since the 1970s. This is due to a rise in popularity of reggae, soul and funk. Soca has spread from Trinidad and Tobago to other islands in the Caribbean. Islands like, Antigua, Barbados, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, among others.
Soca music can be heard blasting throughout the streets of the island during the iconic Carnival festival.
WHAT IS CARNIVAL?
Carnival is a two-day festival in Trinidad and Tobago. It is a celebration of feathers, gems, dance, life, and most importantly… SOCA MUSIC!
Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival has been described as the “greatest show on earth.” In my opinion, that’s an understatement. These are the best two days of the year for anyone who loves all things carnival.
Dancing through the streets of Trinidad with friends, surrounded by gorgeous costumes of feathers and gems, with trucks blasting fantastic Soca music. It gives you a feeling I really can’t describe. Playing carnival is quite literally a dream come true for many artists.
SO…WHY DOES SOCA DESERVE MORE RECOGNITION?
If you think you haven’t already heard any Soca music, you’re absolutely wrong. There are many popular artists today who are using Soca sounds and influences in their music.
The sound is hard to pin down, but think Tropical House meets Afro beats. These are both respectable genres but they take Soca music and put a new spin on it. Both of these varieties and others, take pieces of Soca and turn it into something else. Then, they receive more recognition than the original genre.
Let me give few examples of Soca influence, for starters, the Steel Pan. The steel pan is an instrument that was created in Trinidad and Tobago. It is the country’s national instrument and is used in many Soca and Calypso songs. Think Kodak Black’s “ZEZE”, 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P”, Mura Masa’s “Love$ick” and Soulja Boy’s “Crank That”. These are all songs that arguably would not be as good as they are without the steel pan and Soca energy.
R&B and Hip Hop artists are common users of Soca influences in their songs. Another classic example is Drake’s “One Dance”. Many of his other tracks use ragga soca. Ragga soca is a fusion of Soca and Dancehall (popular in Jamaica).
Let’s also discuss Harry Belafonte and his historical album, “Calypso”. He was the first recording artist to ever reach more than 1 million in LP sales. He earned the title “King of Calypso”.
Soca music plays such an important role in the music industry and somehow it still does not get the accolades it deserves. It is definitely time for Soca to receive the recognition and praise that it needs.
I went ahead and put together a playlist of some of my Soca favorites to get you in the Carnival mood. Which ones are your favorite? Let us know in the comments!