For decades Ian “Bunji Garlin” Alvarez has proved to his fans that he has the ability to freestyle on most topics, an ability he showed again last weekend when he and wife Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez appeared on BBC 1Xtra with broadcaster Seani B.
“He’s one of the main players on BBC doing the Caribbean diaspora he invited us to come to the interview,” Alvarez said.
The Viking said whenever they go to the United Kingdom they usually do interviews to update their fans there. But this was the first time he and his wife appeared in studio and he said they did not anticipate a freestyle challenge.
“That kind of caught us by surprise,” he said.
Especially the format, where Seani B had a list of words related to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee that Alvarez did not see beforehand.
“The reason I didn’t expect him to do something like that because I know when you doing recording for these media streams they very particular about what the output is, what the content is,” he explained.
The words were crown, palace, constabulary, royal, monarchy and queen.
“It’s not something that I fear doing but you never really get accustom to the comfort zone of it… remember this is off the top it’s not like you preplan this it is like right there in the moment it’s happening and in the moment a lot of things can go wrong,” he said.
Alvarez said that’s why he stumbled a bit during the freestyle.
Royal posed a challenge, he said he did not want to use the word loyal, so instead the singer freestyled about it not having much words that rhyme with that.
But according to his supporters that did not take away from his presentation as many labelled him as the best on social media.
“Yow, Bunji Garlin really impeccable when it comes to freestyling inno,” Mister Trappy Pappy wrote. DJ Adam said: “WASA cah stop your flow nah.”
The Differentology singer said he started receiving the feedback when he arrived at the Piarco airport.
“I didn’t know it was posted yet so when we landed I just saw my phone going off…and next time I seeing shaggy and this one and Red Rat and Bennie,” he said.
He said the first message he saw was Shaggy’s who described him as, “the absolute best at it.”
Bunji Garlin said he was also happy to see that the Trinidad and Tobago diaspora local and international gave his freestyle the attention it deserves.
“I always say this and I never regret saying it, it’s something we as a people need to work on as a Trinidad and Tobago community as a people we have a tendency of taking us for granted until everybody else grab and in this moment it wasn’t like that,” he said.
He said while his rhythm challenges dancehall and hip hop, local genre extempo influenced him as well.
It has shaped ability from the age of 14 when he started to free style at Arima Senior Comprehensive School.
“There was some other guys in school who had that ability I wasn’t doing it I used to beatbox and the way people use to respond when they doing it I was like yow these men sick I need to learn how to do that, “he said.
He said when he started he was not good but he did not give up and eventually participated in his first clash.
“That man belittle me bad bad bad, the man berate me down to the ground,” he said.
Bunji Garlin said he practiced and then got a chance to defeat him.
“I never look back,” he said.
Years later he’s still at it, with big plans for Carnival 2023 and beyond.
“We doing a lot of projects outside of soca and outside of the carnivals too because of the different types of shows and bookings we maintain,” he shared.
Here are some quotes from Bunji’s freestyle:
“First word around me nah come like clown dress up right now on we head we put crown when you put it heavy cah weigh you down...”
“What’s the next word Constabulary tie that into that vocabulary and go tell them that we go cut off the vein to the artery right back to the pulmonary...”
“Aww look how meh blessed on sight my own queen is on my left-hand side, two other queens is on the right-hand side, I don’t know them other queen standing outside that’s not my business.”