Are you a fan of dancehall reggae? Have you heard of afrobeats? How about classic tracks like "Turn Me On" by Kevin Lyttle or Rupee's "Tempted to Touch"? If so, read on to learn about Soca, one of the most popular music genres in the Caribbean.
What is Soca?
Soca is the most popular music on all English-speaking Caribbean islands (besides Jamaica), and it comes from Trinidad and Tobago. It originates from calypso music and stands for SOul of CAlypso. It has changed over the years and there are a few different types.
Groovy vs. Power
A popular "groovy soca" track from a couple years ago
Soca is known for being fast and "groovy soca" slows things down to mid-tempo. Not "slow" by any means, it borrows influences from dancehall, afrobeats and contemporary r&b. Groovy soca has risen in popularity and is now the number one kind of soca listened to year round in the caribbean.
A popular "power soca" track
If you listen to a lot of Soca you will notice that some of the songs are insanely fast. These are the "power soca" tracks. What most of them lack in melody and song structure, they make up for in raw energy and speed. I'm sure a lot of people listen to these type of tracks at home, they seem to be made for a crazy party.
There are a lot of people who are of Indian descent living in Trinidad so soca mixed with chutney is quite popular. My favorite artist in this genre is Ravi B.
How is it different?
Most soca tracks are recorded as part of a "riddim," where a producer will create an instrumental and many artists will borrow from it. But this came from reggae, Soca is actually very unique from all other genres:
The music is made for carnival
Soca songs are grouped by what carnival they were made for. When someone says "2019 soca," they are talking about a song that was made in preparation for (usually the Trinidad) carnival in 2019. And there's a good chance it was made the previous year. Carnival is a huge party held on many carribbean islands that spans over days. Attendees listen to that carnival's songs beforehand.
All the songs have the same topic
Well, not all, but almost all soca tracks are about dancing, partying and drinking - all the things you do at carnival. Here are a few words you will hear if you listen to soca:
On the road (this is where everyone parties during carnival)
Play mas (dressing up in a costume and partying)
To lime (to hang out and party)
You get the point...
Where can I listen to it?
Good question! I made this mix of groovy soca right before the 2019 Trini carnival. All the songs are on Spotify also. This is the perfect way to celebrate carnival if you're like me: stuck in cold NYC working all the time.
So please let me know what you would add or what I left out. And if you are throwing a soca party in the New York area and need a guest DJ, hit me up!