A sugar daddy in silly season of sorts . . .

 For many in Barbados the silly season is mostly associated with our general election. But the annual Crop Over Festival has over the years provided us with moments of such unparalleled hilarity that it has perhaps become the silliest of all our seasons.

Captain Sawyer’s tame ditty Sugar Daddy has drawn the ire of outgoing president of the National Organization of Women, Marilyn Rice-Bowen. Of course, the calypsonian should be mightily grateful to Mrs Rice-Bowen, as her public denouncement of the song has drawn national attention to it in a manner and to a degree that it might not have otherwise enjoyed. Negative publicity, after all, is still publicity.

The NOW president is entitled to an outlandish opinion, but that entitlement should not stretch to advocating that any calypsonian be deprived of employment opportunities because her personal sensibilities have somehow been offended. But how has Sugar Daddy offended?

The lyrics, with the hookline “something for something”, are suggestive of relationships between males and females where some form of monetary or tangible reciprocity is involved. The lyrics are as basic as anything that has been delivered before and less offensive than several Caribbean classics.

If one accepts that our calypsos reflect what occurs in society, and that our calypsonians simply provide commentary on social realities, one is startled that anyone could recommend an artiste be summarily deprived of the opportunity to buy bread.

We appreciate the need for good taste, even in the midst of a secular festival. But when a correlation can be found between Sugar Daddy and the spread of HIV/AIDS, and a detail that 44.2 per cent of households are headed by single women, as well as the suggestion the song casts women in an unfavourable light, such comments appear nothing more than the utterings of a well-meaning but over-exuberant activist.

It would seem no thought has been given to the history of West Indian calypsos, regional carnivals of any name, the role of the calypsonian, societal realities, or the input of women in the lyrics of our calypsos.

More than three decades ago, Mighty Terror sang: “Come by muh and feel muh skin; it was soft before but now I prepare for war.” Long before, the Mighty Sparrow had pontificated on the sweetness of all salt meat, and having never eaten white meat yet. He introduced fans to the Village Ram and Mr Rake And Scrape –– all to do with sexual shenanigans.

In his classic Lion And Donkey, Sparrow sings about a fight where the donkey grabs the lion from behind and holds him in that position. To the exhortations of the referee to “break, break, break”, it is made clear that was indeed the donkey’s intention. A memorable piece of writing that might bring a knowing smile to any gay lobbyist.

And what about our own legendary and illustrious Merrymen? Is Mrs Rice-Bowen mimicking Rip Van Winkle? Their Big Bamboo is a Bajan classic, irrespective of
her sensibilities.

I ask my lady what I should do,

To make her happy and make love true.

She said, “The only thing that I want from you 

“Is a little little piece of a big bamboo . . . .”

I gave my lady a sugar cane; 

Sweet up the sweets I did explain. 

She gave it back, to my surprise, 

She liked the flavour but not the size.

To our knowledge, Big Bamboo has never drawn Mrs Rice-Bowen’s ire.

We should accept that inasmuch as our calysonians highlight male prowess, they often showcase male shortcomings. And our female calypsonians, too, have also been at the forefront of singing about and highlighting many of these social interrelationships. In some instances, their lyrics are as provocative as any produced by the Captain Sawyers of the art form.

Long before our own Alison Hinds took the region by storm as its undeniable Soca Queen, unashamedly promoting her acute sensuality, Calypso Rose threw her presence into our consciousness with unbridled sauciness. In songs like Sweet Nest she was not afraid to mock men’s masculinity by flaunting her own femininity.

The admirable Alison has been a trailblazer in putting her warrior-like presence –– and lyrics –– out there. Unfortunately, NOW is not the time to accept their existence. But in songs like The More You Get It the Soca Queen sings: “The more you get it, the more you want it . . . . Don’t move too fast cause you gotta make it last.”

And the theme is basically the same in her Boom Boom Tonic. She sings:

Ladies, I think they need some tonic . . .

So fill them with the boom boom tonic . . . .

Woman in front and man behind it . . .

Hold your lover and then you time it . . . .

Wine back and give them tonic . . . .

Wine to the back and lock it on to me . . . .

Gimme the juk juk . . . . I want to ride it, 

I want to ride it . . . . I want to feel it, I want to feel it.

One might question individual treatment of themes, but Captain Sawyer’s Sugar Daddy fits smugly into the tradition of many of his predecessors. And whether it be Rose’s Banana or Fire Fire, Reclaimer’s In De Sauce, Sach Moore’s Wuh Yah Gotta Gimme Fuh Christmas or the Tradewinds’ You Can’t Get, the calypsonian is entitled to paint what he or she sees happening around him or her in palatable words –– and, most importantly, to eat too.

22 Responses to A sugar daddy in silly season of sorts . . .

  1. Dexter Squires
    Dexter Squires June 3, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    That song is good…nothing wrong with it…. Anybody that says different only saying that cause them had it happened to dem…

    Reply
  2. david June 4, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    I think that Ms Rice-Bowen has a responsibility to her membership to promote their interests and that is what she is justifiably doing. Most of the examples of sexually-laden calypso which you cited above do not address the issue here. The concern here is not simply about a song being “about sex.” Sex is good. Captain Sawyer ‘s song is not problematic simply because it is about sex. The concern is that it is about a particular kind of sex – sex that is demeaningly seen as a commodity and is used to manipulate women who may be financially disadvantaged. The Big Bamboo song by the Merry Men for example does not commodify sex. It is about a man seeking to satisfy “his lady”. Part of the problem with Captain Sawyer is that when calypsonians seek to sing saucy songs it is best to employ skillful writing which leaves something to the imagination and that present some question marks, rather than exclamation marks. Take Lil Rick song Do Fuh Do a few years back. Sexually laden, but not nearly as offensive as Sawyer – it was about an exchange among equals and specifically claim to be about agricultural and culinary sharing (“you eat my plantain, I want to dip my spoon in your soup”) rather than an exploitative sugar daddy who appears to be preying on the socially vulnerable. At this stage Sawyer must not expect that his lyrics will not or should not be challenged. Nor can he simply claim to be “reflecting society”. It doesn’t work that way. If you pitch your lyrics at the lowest moral , ethical and creative rungs on the ladder they will be challenged on moral, ethical and creative grounds, as well they ought to be.

    Reply
  3. Patrick Blackman June 5, 2015 at 7:08 am

    @david: Well said, couldn’t have said it better myself. I just don’t understand how educated bajans cannot see the difference.

    Reply
  4. Alex Alleyne June 6, 2015 at 7:28 am

    Hi lady, go listen to VREONICA RA’ELLE , song SUGAR DADDY.

    Reply
  5. Alex Alleyne June 6, 2015 at 8:09 am

    Also check this song
    Luther Lackey , She only want to see me on friday

    Reply
  6. harry turnover June 6, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    Patrick Blenman,what difference are you talking about ? something for something DOES NOT necessarily mean giving sex in return.Any educated Bajan would tell you that.
    It can be ANYTHING ….why can’t it be .”.if I give you money,you have to give me a free Sunday lunch every other Sunday.”.THAT IS something for something TOO.
    …..and Dave who says Sawyer song is about sex ? that is your interpretation.Any Lawyer will tell you that that assumption could not even be contemplated in a Court of Law

    Reply
  7. Patrick Blackman June 6, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    @harry turnover: the diferrence is
    “The concern is that it is about a particular kind of sex – sex that is demeaningly seen as a commodity and is used to manipulate women who may be financially disadvantaged. “

    Reply
    • harry turnover June 7, 2015 at 6:57 am

      “The concern is that it is about a particular kind of SEX ” ????…show me where Sawyer is singing about SEX…I repeat SOMETHING FOR SOMETHING DOES NOT MEAN IT IS SEX HE IS SINGING ABOUT.
      Sawyer could take ANYBODY to Court and win hands down if it comes to that if he/she implies that he is singing about SEX.
      Your interpretation is sex,my interpretation is that it could very well be sex, BUT it could also be MANY OTHER THINGS,and you know full well that you CANNOT go to Court and say it is sex he is singing about WITHOUT BRINGING THE NECESSARY PROOF.
      You as a so called educated person needs to show that PROOF mate.

      Reply
  8. dave June 6, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    I do not see anything to do with sex in this song -nothing !!!

    Reply
    • harry turnover June 7, 2015 at 7:09 am

      Dave,man you running around like a chicken without a head. Your words “Captain Sawyer ‘s song is not problematic simply because it is about SEX. The concern is that it is about a particular kind of SEX – SEX that is demeaningly seen as a commodity and is used to manipulate women who may be financially disadvantaged. ”
      ……and ” I do not see ANYTHING TO DO WITH SEX in this song -nothing “.
      Dave,wha you telling me man,ya want to be in the Church and the Chapel at the same time.ah ?? ya want to eat biscuits and whistle at the same time ah ??
      Wha ya gine come wid next ? that a man does not need an erection to engage in SEXual intercourse ??

      Reply
  9. Patrick Blackman June 7, 2015 at 11:35 am

    @harry turnover: We can explore myth and allegory here if you want but I will state it very simply : If we continue to view such lyrics as “good or nothing wrong” when clearly they convey a demeaning and tactical attack on our matriartical society.

    Nearly every bajan was raised by a single parent, in most case by your mother or grand mother. If we continue to view women as objects characterized by those lyrics and promote this state as good music , nothing wrong mentality, then we destroy the fundamental structure of our society. I hope you get it now.

    Focusing on the word “sex” is jejune and illustrates an acute lack of eruditeness , something often missing in our discourse.

    Reply
    • harry turnover June 7, 2015 at 4:13 pm

      @ Patrick Bellamy..big man YOU are the one FOCUSING on sex.YOU were the one who said that Sawyers’ song is about sex.,and the reason you continue to say it in different words this time is because you continue to tell your self that Sawyers’ song is about sex.THAT IS YOUR INTERPRETATION.

      YOUR WORDS “If we continue to view such lyrics as “good or nothing wrong” when clearly they convey a demeaning and tactical attack on our matriartical society.
      So it is ok with you when a woman tells a man ” you can’t afford me “,” if ya want by body YA GOT TO PAY FOR IT ” and I am not talking about no prostitute, ” if you want to be my man ya got to give me more money than my man does give me and so forth and so on.

      Most women view themselves as objects and want the men to view them as objects…just look at the way they dress.So if a man views them as objects in song you got a problem with that .
      Look ,ANY woman would tell you that a man CAN”T got them for NOTHING…the woman getting her sex FREE,and the man paying for his…who exploiting who there ??

      Reply
  10. harry turnover June 7, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    @ Patrick Blackman correction..big man YOU are the one FOCUSING on sex.YOU were the one who said that Sawyers’ song is about sex.,and the reason you continue to say it in different words this time is because you continue to tell your self that Sawyers’ song is about sex.THAT IS YOUR INTERPRETATION.

    YOUR WORDS “If we continue to view such lyrics as “good or nothing wrong” when clearly they convey a demeaning and tactical attack on our matriartical society.
    So it is ok with you when a woman tells a man ” you can’t afford me “,” if ya want by body YA GOT TO PAY FOR IT ” and I am not talking about no prostitute, ” if you want to be my man ya got to give me more money than my man does give me and so forth and so on.

    Most women view themselves as objects and want the men to view them as objects…just look at the way they dress.So if a man views them as objects in song you got a problem with that .
    Look ,ANY woman would tell you that a man CAN”T got them for NOTHING…the woman getting her sex FREE,and the man paying for his…who exploiting who there ??

    Reply
  11. Patrick Blackman June 7, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    @harry turnover

    It still seems as though you have not gotten the level of discourse here. I never talk about sex, I quoted what @david said in his commentary.

    I replied to you by first identify my point of view on the issue by saying ” We can explore myth and allegory here if you want”, that should have clued you into the level of discourse required.

    The quote from @david was never taken for what the literal words were/meant, but rather what they signify, thats why I again qualify it by saying “Focusing on the word “sex” is jejune and illustrates an acute lack of eruditeness” (childish and not thinking at the required level).

    If you still cannot understand this then it makes no sense continuing this one-side discourse (from my end, nothing against you brother).

    Reply
    • harry turnover June 7, 2015 at 8:00 pm

      You might not have quoted sex in this article,but you are implying it is sex Sawyer is singing about

      Davids’ words

      ” Captain Sawyer ‘s song is not problematic simply because it is about SEX The concern is that it is about a particular kind of SEX–SEX that is demeaningly seen as a commodity and is used to manipulate women who may be financially ”

      Your words in reply
      @david: Well said, couldn’t have said it better myself. I just don’t understand how educated bajans cannot see the difference.

      Big man ,you not only QUOTED what David said ….YOU AGREED with EVERYTHING he said too !!

      Reply
  12. Patrick Blackman June 7, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    @harry turnover: “Look ,ANY woman would tell you that a man CAN”T got them for NOTHING…the woman getting her sex FREE,and the man paying for his…who exploiting who there ??”

    I know no such women, may be we travel in different circles but I know no such women, sorry or I am very naive, which may be true when it comes to these women you speak of.

    Reply
    • harry turnover June 7, 2015 at 7:48 pm

      @ Patrick Blackman.It seems to me that you never had experiences with women or have never heard women and men talking about their experiences with the opposite sex.
      Man you not only naive but ya like ya is a recluse too.All you got to do (,don’t take my word for it)…tomorrow ask ten women if they would like a man for nothing.
      It seems too that you don’t understand the situation when a man and woman are involved.
      The man GIVES the woman MONEY every week ,month whatever,and what does he get in return apart from companionship ??…..SEX !!..in other words HE HAS TO PAY FOR IT.
      The woman DOES NOT have to pay for neither COMPANIONSHIP NOR SEX,and you writing big and bold in cyber space saying you know no such women ? like you don’t know women at all .

      Reply
  13. Patrick Blackman June 7, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    @harry turnover: lol… I am certainly naive as I wouldn’t be associating myself with women like that, who hold themselves in such low esteem. Clearly you lack the intellectual capacity to understand what I took pains to explain to you above. You have clearly exemplified that stereo type that is causing the destruction of the family in this country and providing an acute shortage of role models for our young males. Its sad when as adults we find it so hard to repect women, how shameful… good night sir.

    Reply
    • harry turnover June 8, 2015 at 10:16 am

      So in other words you NEVER was involved with ANY woman or was never married to one,and you don’t have any social life at all.
      Then it could only mean that you MIGHT be involved with men.
      I will REPEAT stating FACTS CANNOT be DISRESPECTFUL

      Your words :

      “I am certainly naive as I wouldn’t be associating myself with women like that, who hold themselves in such low esteem ”

      So if Sawyer sings about those SAME women how can it then be ..your words again…”.clearly they convey a demeaning and tactical attack on our matriartical society.”

      Reply
  14. Patrick Blackman June 8, 2015 at 10:32 am

    @ harry turnover – you are an uneducated and extremely indecorous individual. A little self respect is not a bad thing sir. Good bye… have a nice day.

    Reply
    • harry turnover June 8, 2015 at 4:24 pm

      @Patrick Blackman….look ,go and wash your face….ya spitting in the air.

      Sawyer is ONLY singing about those women who YOU say have LOW ESTEEM,

      It appears it is ok for women to have a low esteem of themselves,but it is not right to sing about them…man you are one illiterate,premature,immature individual. Go and drink some breast milk,see if you can grow up,but remember to burp before you lie down,otherwise the vermin you write will continue to regurgitate .

      Reply
  15. harry turnover June 8, 2015 at 10:35 am

    @ Patrick Blackman..clearly YOU lack the intellectual capability to understand that Sawyer is singing about those women who according to you have low self esteem.

    It is clear to everyone but YOU that it those LOW SELF ESTEEM women ACCORDING to you,are the ones who are “conveying that demeaning message to our matriartical society”

    Sawyer is only singing about them

    Reply

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