Judging by the latest trends in soca music, I reckon a typical conversation between a performer and a producer reads:
Producer: “So, what type of song do you want?”
Artist: “Yo! Machel won Road March with ‘Waiting On The Stage,’ so I want an dance tune like that. And Afrobeat is the big thing right now in Miami. Make sure I get a song that sounds African. I want a hit like Drake!”
And the spirit of Lord Shorty wept.
As soca music moves toward international styles and further away from its roots, artists are more concerned with following trends. That is especially true for acts in Trinidad and Tobago.
There is nothing wrong with being creative and experimenting with soca. That is one of the reasons why the genre continues to find new audiences worldwide.
However, many local artists have been labelling dance tracks and Afrobeat as soca, despite there being nothing remotely Trinidadian about the music. Other than the accent.
I agree with Machel Montano’s point that soca mixing with other art forms is beautiful as it connects people across the globe. After all, that is the power of music.
My main concern is the push for “mainstream” acceptance outside of the Caribbean without staying true to our heritage.
Therefore, I suggest a different type of innovation that is not based on erasure. Instead, it embraces change and honours the roots of the music.
Also, I open the floor for other Caribbean countries to create their own subgenres of soca as Grenda has done with Jab. That will surely make things very interesting.