The debate over dancehall music being played or performed during the Carnival season in this country has been raging on over the past few weeks. It resurfaced after local artiste Kern Joseph aka Trinidad Killa hit fetes with his 2020 hit “Dyy Zess” but also performed his popular local dancehall tune “Gunman in she hole.”
Joseph has had his say on the matter but his manager, Delicia Patterson, has expressed disappointment with the conversation.
She said “Trinidad Killa has been singing Soca for the past 17yrs, even being a past contestant at Synergy TV’s Soca Star. As most youths do, when Soca does not work for them, they gravitate to the dancehall genre. Now with his dancehall hit, he is now being branded as a dancehall artiste with persons further stating that he should not be hired at fetes. Our focus and mission will always be to satisfy the crowd and ground movement.”
She added that “in this business, you will always get good and bad publicity and one must learn to rise above it all and stay humble. Music is made to entertain and to feed the soul. We just did a show in the Bahamas and the Promoter there said to me “Power in Soca is the song to push, I stop push gunman because that song gone clear already. He further stated that “Dyy Zess”, Trinidad Killa’s Soca contribution is a great and powerful song and the people need to know it.”
She said, “If we are so passionate about our culture then the bigger debate should be why is there a Soca switch on Boxing Day and Ash Wednesday?”
And while many are having their say, particularly on social media, the people responsible for putting on the fetes and playing the music are speaking out as well. At least one major event organiser, Caesar’s Army, sees no problem with dancehall in Carnival, within reason.
Chief Executive Officer Jules Sobion told Guardian Media, “When it is we are having an international clientele coming to the Carnival season and it’s a lot of Caribbean people as well, I think that if Trinidad and Tobago is representing for Soca and Chutney; Barbados has Bashment, Jamaica has Dancehall, St Lucia has Dennery, Grenada has Jab, Dominica has Bouyon, French West Indies has Zouk and I think it all has a place in our Carnival season.”
His sentiments were echoed by Disc Jockey from SLAM 100.5 FM, Ewart Mundy aka DJ Watty, who expressed the view that the music played is controlled by the people attending the events.
“As djs we have a responsibility and our responsibility is to please the patrons. If you go an event and the patrons want to hear dancehall there are certain events you will have to play the Dancehall because you are playing for them.” Mundy said.
On social media, the views remain mixed.
Tracey Michelle Gomez wrote, “Dancehall (local or otherwise) and soca should not mix for Carnival. The vibe is not the same.”
But Allister Phillip said, “Well soca does get played in party off-season so it’s only fair dance hall get a touch for Carnival.”
Brandon Stoute went a bit further, he said, “Soca music, especially during Carnival Season brings a vibe that masqueraders and non masqueraders love, Dancehall is also another favourite genre of music that brings its own vibe. Personally if the two can clash and bring a vibe that everyone will love then, by all means, put them together and let’s enjoy the vibe!”