Greetings to all women on International Women’s Day (IWD). The campaign theme, “Balance for Better” shall continue throughout this year. The website for IWD explains ‘Collective action and shared responsibility for driving a gender-balanced world is key. International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women—while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance’.
There will be events worldwide and the Government of T&T as well as a number of organisations will host local activities.
However, I want to refer to a deceptively sweet soca hit, Gyal Owner that has some relevance to IWD. It is sung by Blaxx (Dexter Stewart) and composed jointly by Blaxx, Jevaughn John, and Jason Jameson, using the Tight Squeeze rhythm. The composers certainly did not arrange the song to be in line with the theme but the coincidence is noteworthy.
Blaxx is concerned with the best quality for soca compositions. In 2012 during a T&T Guardian interview with Cherisse Moe, he appealed to his fellow entertainers to become more "lyrically conscious" which, to me, does not necessarily mean the same thing as being "socially conscious". Blaxx’s repertoire has songs like No Getaway (2012), Leh Go (2013), Place in Life (2015), Life over Death (2017), Hulk (2018), and this year’s Gyal Owner.
To be fair, other soca artistes like Nadia Batson, Farmer Nappy (Darryl Henry) and Kes Dieffenthaller, have repertoires which contain festive songs with creditable social value.
In Gyal Owner Blaxx warns a young man, at a party, about the consequences of possessiveness.
Some boy go lose their gyal tonight
Some body go touch it for you
(Somebody go touch it)
You can hold she close if you want to
(Hold she close if you want to)
She will give it to who she want to
(Give it to who she want to)
You can buy her drinks if you want to
(Buy she drinks if you want to)
She go give it to who she want to
(My youth you don’t own it)
To make the young man face reality he mischievously hits him two lashes. He is not the Black Panther and should be like his father before him.
Stop gwan like a superhero like the
Black Panther in Wakanda
Don’t care if a next man jam on her
Take example from your father na
He never kill you stepfather na
(cause he know that)
Blaxx is drawing on the essence of understanding the need for balance in relationships. It has to do with respect for boundaries in affairs between men and women. There is a class of modern women who refuse to be locked into inhibiting situations. These women are a challenge to possessive men who will make errors when women want the freedom to be.
He makes it clear:
She give you a touch ah the thing
Yuh feel you is a king
Now yuh buy she ah ring
And just as yuh buy she ah ring
Yuh feel that you control the thing
Then Blaxx offers a very practical solution which can bring some balance and harmony to the situation. He counsels the young man to just walk away. In a sense, he is steering him away from what could become a toxic relationship.
No gyal don’t want no owner
Don’t want no owner
Yuh wasn’t born a twin find a
next one quick
To me, that should be the end of that. But the point is that what Blaxx has sung about may have been lost because Gyal Owner was a very popular song during many of the recent Carnival fetes. The unfortunate assumption, in some minds, is that Blaxx may be referring only to a party environment. So when will the message be heeded? Will it be heard during IWD or ever at all?