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Tale of soca’s two Boys
He used to be Blue Boy a long time ago, this indefatigable father of the modern soca tune. This man who reinvented soca into a string of maddening, compelling refrains is now SuperBlue and 2013 saw him making a dramatic comeback from the streets of St James to the pinnacle of hope of soca glory.
I’m writing this on Fantastic Friday, the very day he celebrates in his 2013 comeback song by that name, and I don’t know at this point whether he will win the Soca Monarch competition tonight. By the time you read this on Carnival Tuesday it will be old news whether Blue (by any other name) has taken the competition as so many predict he will.
It is true that he has a way with the Soca Monarch crowd, as he showed six times in the past when he swept the competition with such songs as Bacchanal Time, Flag Party and Bounce in the early- and mid-90s.
But that was 20 years ago, a lifetime. Many of the youths in the stands at the stadium on Friday wouldn’t even have been born when Blue was really big, far less for when he was Blue Boy and wringing soca from a Baptist doption in 1979, back when he could make the notes without the help of auto-tune.
It kind of surprises me that we have embraced SuperBlue in this comeback. We are a people for whom schadenfreude is second nature. And that brings me to the other Boy in this drama, Machel Montano, known to his intimates as Boy.
His protracted prosecution for assault, ongoing since 2007, generated the kind of venomous response I expect from Trinis, who love to see a hero brought low. In December Montano was found guilty of four charges of assault and one of using obscene language, with sentencing twice postponed—probably so as to avoid a Carnival riot.
He still has many, many fans, evinced by the massive crowd at Machel Monday, his concert last week, but that didn’t stop his sponsor, bmobile, from dropping him like a hot potato the week before. The only surprise in that is why it took so long for them to drop him—after all, a major state enterprise cannot be seen to support a convicted offender.
And the bile ran from the public’s mouth: “It good for he” and such. Once a boy wonder, Montano was now, in some eyes, the scum of the earth. Not that it slowed his momentum in any discernible way this Carnival. As defending Groovy and Power Soca Monarch, as well as reigning Road March king, Montano ignored the tantana and pressed forward towards a repeat of the triple crown he took last year.
On this Fantastic Friday, as I write, it’s still up in the air, but something tells me Machel Montano is going to triumph over schadenfreude—float over it, as it were—at least musically. Come February 25, when he is expected to be sentenced for the four counts of assault, it will be interesting to see whether he will actually be subject to the two years’ imprisonment the law stipulates as punishment for such an offence.
And after that, whether he will still be the darling Boy of the soca world, whatever the sentence. Because he cannot win: if he is sentenced to jail time, it will tarnish his substantial history of accomplishment as a musician and businessman; if the sentence is suspended and he doesn’t serve a day in jail, it will ring in some ears as one law for the rich and another for the poor.
But that is at least two weeks away. Today, we will jump up to his big tune Float. “We not staying down/we getting off the ground,” the song begins, setting the stage for another comeback, perhaps. “We floating on the big stage/high over we problems/we don’t have no time for them,” he sings. Not today, anyway. Just like the many who worry about paying rent and light bills after playing mas, he seems to be brushing his legal worries aside until after Carnival.I know I’m not the only one waiting to see how this tale of two Boys plays out this Fantastic Friday. I wish them both well, and hope they each get what they deserve for Carnival. In SuperBlue’s words, “Aye aye aye, the party start.” Happy Carnival.
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