The soca mafia-is it real or is it all hype? This controversial issue is not a new one. In fact, it has been rearing its ugly head for a while now, with some artistes charging that "certain" entertainers are being favoured over others and are dominating the airwaves for the Carnival season. Then there are those who chalk it up to artistes "toting feelings" simply because their music just doesn't make the cut. Either way, this "mafia" talk, which seems to be on the tip of many more tongues this year, does not augur well for the image of soca music, and by extension T&T, especially at a time when some local artistes are doing their part to represent the red, white and black on the world's stage. The T&T Guardian recently spoke to some of the main players in the music game and sought to shed some light on the topic. Here is what they had to say.
• Kees-(Reigning Groovy Soca Monarch)
"I think in any business there are leaders in the industry and there are people with more clout than others. Even with me as an artiste coming up I didn't receive a lot of air play.
"I have air play now, but that has had a lot to do with the work that I've put in over the years. But to say that something organised exists, I can't say. But I'm sure there is some level of control as to what goes on the airwaves."
• TC-SLAM 100.5
(DJ and soca artiste)
"I don't know anything about mafia. My interpretation of the word mafia is an organised group of individuals.
"Personally, I never had any issues for my songs to be played and I'm not part of anything. If the song is good the DJs would want to play it. Anything that falls short of great is not going to be played.
"I have seven songs out but only one being played right now and that's simply because the people enjoy it so that's the one the DJs will play more. This whole mafia thing comes from those people whose music is not being played and them telling themselves that people against them. I don't agree with that. I would tell them to try different producers, try different styles.
"You can't be doing the same thing and expecting different results. I try to move with the current and put out what the people want to here. The people you hearing all the time on radio are the people who are working the hardest and whose songs are all good. And to be honest, it's the people who can afford to put out all those songs because producing a song is not cheap."
• Patrice Roberts
"People are saying that some artistes are getting played because of the soca mafia, but if you have good music nobody can stop that. Some people want to blame everything on soca mafia and other things. But I do feel bad for newcomers who have good songs and their music isn't being played. Those are the only people I really feel bad for."
• Trevlyn Lezama (DJ)
"While I'm working nobody don't call me to tell me to play this or don't play that. I go to work with my vibes. I choose the songs to be played on my segment. No artiste cannot pressure me or pay me to play their music.
"I can't speak for others but I know for sure when I go to work no artiste can't call and tell me, 'aye, I ain't hearing my song today.'
• K Rich-(new artiste)
"I think that it's a business, an industry, and with all businesses and industries, once you approach it with good business ethics it will reflect in the way you are treated. I don't want to think of it as a mafia but more so as a structured business.
"Above all, what artistes have to remember is that once their product is good and marketable, there can't be any kind of fight down really. I'm sure that they have reasons that are justifiable but I'm also sure that there are other solutions for them."