Bajan vibes impress N.Y. D.J.s
“I got a job I doan like, I got to work all night…meet me on the road. I calling in sick … the vibes too sweet to miss; me brother tell me this, rum is the only medicine.” King Bubba.
Is Bubba’s song “Calling In Sick “the ‘proverbial swallow’ that doesn’t make a summer? At least two DJ’s in the Barbadian Diaspora, who are both familiar with Bajan music, believe otherwise.
Barbadian Ron Riley became a DJ in 1970. Riley’s pre-Labour Day gigs attract the ‘crème de la crème’ of Caribbean calypso lovers. Already, he has added about 500 of the 2016 Crop Over songs to his collection, and continues to seek out the one which are less played.
Listen to Riley as we chatted recently.
“Excellent. One word is all that needed to describe this year’s Crop Over music.”
You say that to say what?
“Clearly, you didn’t hear or understand what I just said. Is it possible to better excellent?”
Alright, go on.
“Producers laid great rhythm tracks – Jackie Opel, Hand-Grenade and others. Then, the lyrics (and melodies) gave life to the songs and made them very appealing.”
And your three top songs are?
“Why put me on the spot? I love many of them. However, my choices are: Good Morning (Peter Ram; Get Thru (Lil Rick); and Home Sweet Home (Edwin Yearwood).”
David Lalla – an American DJ with Bajan and Trinidadian parents – is an IT Engineer in the New Jersey education system. Lalla believes that he may have touched at least 50,000 records over the years and has a mix called Bathsheba Vibes in honor of the place where he was introduced to Bajan music as a young adult. Lalla became excited as he talked about 2016 Crop Over.
“Without doubt, Crop Over 2016 is the second surge. The first was the year when ‘The Plummer’ was a hit. Bajan music is now a Caribbean collaboration. Outsiders no longer have to listen to a song three or four times to understand the story.”
“Anyone anywhere in the world can relate to Marvay’s “Know Your Face”. I experience it all the time. Also, many of this year’s hits are songs the 18 – 35 age group enjoys, and music that seniors appreciate. And then, the Red Boyz are now the production kings. Their music is sonically sound, is sweet, and is a perfect example of the power of Caribbean cooperation. ”
Tell me more?
“Sound wise, the Red Boyz’ (and many others’) arrangements meet international standards. I don’t have to make any adjustments of levels. Then, there is now a fusion of Bajan, Trinidad, and, at times, Jamaican dialects in one song. Many songs are closer to Reggae in terms of speed. Hold it. Listen to the change in Allison Hinds’ phrasing. Bumper which is Bajan has gone. She is now singing Bumpa!”
How do you follow Bajan Music?
“In many ways. Four weeks ago, on my way to a beach in Rhode Island, I turned on my Blue Tooth alert and my family listened to Peter Coppin – one of the best in the businesses – all the way. That was heavenly.”
What’s next up for Bajan music?
“It is going to be difficult to better this year’s images and colour. Face it, a 50th Anniversary is a once in a lifetime experience. How do you better the lyrics of “Home Sweet Home”? This is no ordinary Crop Over. Never saw so many tourists come in for the festival, Crop Over here.’ Or, listen to the implanted pauses towards the end of Red Plastic Bag’s “ I love it” – Jamming – Dancing – Jamming – spaces that allowed the music to breathe, and the lyrics to settle in your ear. And, I’ve not touched Stiffy’s “Tek off something”, a classic Bashment song that could take Jamaica by storm”
Evidently, in the eyes of the two Diaspora DJ’s, Bajan artists whetted the appetite of John public. So what will Bajan radio stations now do? Offer an excuse or make every month up to November “Sweet Festival month? For sure, the artists have spoken loudly. One Caribbean love is on the rise.
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