Driving east on Friday afternoon to El Dorado, the traffic jam extended from the lighthouse, that falling symbol of Port-of-Spain superiority, into the first traffic light near Valsayn.
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Bridging a gap - producer unites old, new school soca acts
Millbeatz Entertainment has produced 49 songs for Carnival 2014, including Soca Monarch semifinalists K Rich’s Go Down and newcomer Natasha Benjamin’s Keep Them Waving, as well as the Jab Jab Riddim which features Iwer George, Olatunji Yearwood and Grenada’s Tallpree.
However, the creation which remains closest to producer David “Millbeatz” Millen’s heart is his Classic 60s Riddim. Why? Because it was the one production that brought veteran calypsonians and young soca artistes together, something Millen had been trying to achieve for the past three years.
“I have been exploring with this idea for the past three years, so to actually see it materialise was really an amazing feeling,” the 25-year-old told the T&T Guardian from his Trincity-based studio.
Millen noted that it was with the help of soca artiste, close friend and one of the studio’s writers, Joel “Zan” Feveck, his co-producer, Jablani, and Asylum band’s guitarist, Enrico Camejo, that he was able to pull off the production.
“We were brainstorming one night in the studio and Jablani, who also plays the guitar, came up with this infectious strum that you hear throughout the riddim and from that moment the idea just began to flow with the direction in which we wanted the riddim to go.
“Enrico was also there and he added a few more notes and chords on his guitar and then I built my beat around it and the Classic 60s Riddim was born,” Millen explained.
Once the riddim was completed Millen contacted all the studio’s writers, including Feveck, who wrote three songs on the riddim—I Want to Know, sung by Shivonne “Lil Bitts” Churche and Anslem Douglas, Good Morning, sung by himself and Ronnie McIntosh, and another track titled Soaking Wet.
Other collaborations on the riddim include Olatunji Yearwood and Iwer George with Play A Mas and Shurwayne Winchester alongside Lord Nelson singing Breakaway.
Millen said attempts were also made to get more pioneers of calypso and soca, among them SuperBlue, Calypso Rose and David Rudder, on board, but these attempts in the end were unsuccessful.
“Some of them were out of the country and some outrightly did not want to sing on a riddim,” he revealed.
He admitted that at first even some of the existing collaborators were a bit skeptical about singing on a riddim, but noted that once they understood the origin of the idea they were happy to work with the younger artistes.
When contacted, McIntosh confirmed he was hesitant at first because riddims were not his thing. He added, however, that once he understood what the young producer was trying to accomplish he jumped on board.
His younger colleagues, Feveck and Churche, said they were just elated to work with the older heads. Feveck said the Classic 60s Riddim was about bringing back class to music, something he would like today’s deejays to incorporate in their library of music. Churche meanwhile said working with Douglas was an honour.
“I was happy to be chosen by Millbeatz to do the collaboration with Anslem. He’s a guy that has paved ways for young upcoming performers and songwriters of T&T.”
Millen, who together with Star Blu Entertainment, another young studio production house, created the popular 2013 Project 5 Riddim, which featured Denise Belfon’s Wining Queen and Indian ‘Gyal’ by Machel Montano and Drupatee, said the collaborations were to mainly show the current music industry that the music of the past can live with the present day music. He said he believed the music today was missing the element that made a song live forever.
“There is so much upcoming and even established artistes can learn from the veterans,” Millen said.
“It’s not about going back to the past but it is about making a good product. Every artiste should strive to write and sing a song that transcends time.”
Since its release the riddim has unfortunately not been getting much airplay on local frequencies, especially among urban radio stations. Millen said he was a bit disappointed at this, but also understood that not everyone may understand or appreciate the concept.
“The concept may not be understood by all right now but a mark has been made and as a producer, I can say it will catch on in due time,” he said.
On the brighter side, the riddim seems to be loved by calypso/soca lovers in the US and Canada, as Millen indicated it was popular in both countries.
Asked if he would explore another such musical venture again, Millen said, “Millbeatz will certainly do something again with the old and new school. The Classic 60s Riddim was for the music lovers so we must do it again.”