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Carnival’s stuttering progress

Published: 
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Bit Depth
This is half of the crowd for Tribe Ice, the first major party of the season. This is what happens when popular soca meets the target audience for a big band. PHOTO: MARK LYNDERSAY

There’s a song that I’ve been listening to over the last two weeks, a 2013 dance number by Fuse ODG, the working alias of Nana Richard Abiona, a British musician of Ghanaian descent.

 

It’s a peppy little number, full of the celebratory synthesiser riffs so typical of UK dance music, with a funky rhythm that’s reminiscent of Afrofunk. 

 

It’s also a song that would fit right into any soca DJ’s playlist without causing a hiccup in a Carnival party’s full-tilt wining. That’s how tissue-thin the difference between modern soca and European dance music has become.

 

It’s not the only spot in the Carnival landscape where international breakthroughs seem imminent, and it also isn’t the first instance of the type of creative osmosis that’s brought the festival to international attention.

 

From Who Let the Dogs Out to Minshall’s command performances for the Olympics, to the impact of Differentology on international music charts, the products, aesthetic and creative potential of Carnival always seem just on the verge of being a big thing, before retreating determinedly to the safety of the parochial.

 

What is it about T&T that brings us global attention, as calypso did in the 1940s and 50s, only to lose momentum? What causes this to happen repeatedly?

 

A misunderstanding of roles is a big part of it.