Calypsonians are traditionally known for being prolific and firm in their delivery. But Hammond “Slick” Bruce believes comedy is the vehicle that will make his messaging stand out in every competition that he is in. Even if it is a serious issue that he is tackling, he presents it in a light-hearted comedic way.
Bruce has gained popularity this Carnival season for his song, Trinidad is Not A Real Place. This is a term Trinbagonians coined, as part of their response to some of our unimaginable news headlines and crazy daily happenings.
His music video was posted online at the start of 2024 and quickly went viral across various social media platforms, proving that his commentary resonated with many.
“I didn’t expect it to go so viral so quickly. Apparently, people like the issues and the topics that are touched on and how I bring them across in a light-hearted comedic way. And from the first day, I got like ten thousand views in two hours,” Bruce told Guardian Media.
The song is loaded with onomatopoeia and other figurative devices, as Bruce comedically showcases the poor and problematic conditions Trinbagonians have to endure.
“For example, I spoke about the conditions of the road especially since they like to charge motorists for things like defective lights and bent tyres, wheels and inspection stickers. But when you driving on the road, you drop in a pothole ‘blop blop’ and that’s it,” Bruce said. “The other issue is, sometimes you get water only twice a week. When you do get it, it coming out brown like mauby. So it was so easy for the lyrics to come out on pen and paper.”
Bruce said he became enamoured with the art form at a very young age, after witnessing Lord Kitchener perform on stage. Soon after, his mother began supporting his dream to sing calypso, signing him up for almost every school soca and calypso competition.
Bruce’s love for music can be seen, not only through his work that reflects other genres of music but through his talent. According to Bruce, he sees the value in investing in his craft. He paid for online courses to learn how to produce his music at his home studio, adding to his skills of being a musician and a composer.
He also acts as videographer and editor and is owed all the credit for the viral music video.
In his professional life, Bruce continues to sing in calypso tents and take part in competitions. Despite most times exiting only as a finalist, Bruce said he enjoys being a favourite by many for his unique style and believes there is a place for comedy in calypso.
“When you go in the calypso tent, people love to hear a little bacchanal. They want to laugh at something. It is whole week people working, they have the stress of life all the time. So when you go and sit down in a calypso tent, or you put on a song, you want something lighthearted to lift you. Trinidad Is Not A Real Place proves it. Especially with the younger generation.”
After placing fourth at this year’s Young Kings competition, Bruce was observed by many to be a must-watch at Calypso Fiesta 2024. Despite not moving forward to Dimanche Gras after his comedic and entertaining performance, Bruce said he was much more pleased with the number of eyes directed at calypso this particular year.
“You see, we have all kinds of top artistes coming in now, as it has no soca monarch, everybody in the calypso, I love it. It leaves room for this industry to grow and will bring more eyes and attention to make the culture grow.”
Bruce said his only wish was for the art form to progress to attract more eyes and not rely only on popular figures.
“Calypso has become stagnant. We only focusing on one specific thing which is competition and we not focusing on the people. Calypsonians and writers only writing songs with one straight formula where they think only about what the judges like, and we need to change. We don’t need to change the music, we just need to adapt.”