Welcome to Passport Playlist, a series where we’re taking you on a trip around the world to discover some incredible acts in different countries that you may not have heard of before. We’re highlighting artists who may not have had international or mainstream success to bless your ears with undiscovered music from all across the globe.
Today, we jet off to Trinidad & Tobago, a tropical twin-island nation situated in the Caribbean. It’s home to Carnival, aka the Greatest Show on Earth, and the birthplace of the Steelpan, Calypso music, Chutney, Parang, and the Soca genre, an offshoot of Calypso music featuring both Afro-Caribbean and East Indian beats. A melting pot of people of every creed and race, it’s no wonder such culturally rich musical genres originated from here. Trinbagonians are serious party people but also adhere to the breezy relaxation vibes of the Caribbean. Their music reflects these two extremes and covers everything in between. That means there’s something for everybody, so to help you find your new obsession, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best Trini artists and musicians to bless your ears.
Machel Montano, aka The King of Soca, began singing at just seven years old, formed his own band at age nine, and released his first album at 10. His dream has always been to internationalize Soca and he’s played dozens of sold-out shows and tours, entertaining large audiences for years. He’s received a slew of national and international awards ranging from Songwriter Of The Year in 2004 to Power Soca Monarch in 2014. He’s also performed at Madison Square Garden, a major feat for a Trini. Machel has become a quadruple threat, gaining acclamations for singing, songwriting, record producing, and even acting. His live performances are some of the most unpredictable, high-energy productions and we 100% think you need to get on stanning him immediately.
Songs we recommend: ‘Like Ah Boss,’ ‘Vibes Cyah Done,’ and ‘Mr. Fete’
Kes The Band
Kes The Band, or just Kes for short, was formed in 2005 by brothers Kees, Hans and Jon Dieffenthaller, who grew up in San Fernando, Trinidad, and their friend Riad Boochoon, when they were just kids. Their sound uniquely combines Soca, Calypso, Reggae, Pop, and soulful lyrics which are loved throughout the Caribbean region, and even internationally. Over the span of their 6 albums, Kes has worked with artists like Snoop Dog, Tessanne Chin, and Desmond Child. They never fail to put on an exciting, energetic show, and you can vibe to their contagious groove by checking out our song recs below.
Songs we recommend: ‘Savannah Grass,’ ‘Wotless,’ and ‘Endless Summer’
Born in Laventille, Trinidad, Destra comes from a family of musicians and has been composing and performing her own songs since she was a kid. Working with Machel Montano on her first album, she went from winning her school’s Soca Monach five years in a row to winning the Carnival Road March title at the Labour Day Carnival in Brooklyn. Her poppy take on Soca has not only served to draw in a young fanbase to the Soca genre but has made the music more marketable to a present-day international audience. Diving into her seven hit albums may seem a little overwhelming, so to start with, we’ve picked out some of the hottest tunes from the award-winning Queen of Bacchanal herself. Give ’em a try, we promise you won’t regret it.
Songs we recommend: ‘It’s Carnival,’ ‘Just A Little Bit’ and ‘Call My Name’
Nailah Blackman is the granddaughter of Soca — literally. Her grandfather, Lord Shorty, is credited with inventing the Soca genre so you know we have to stan. Nailah grew up surrounded by the sounds of Soca, Calypso, and Reggae and began singing at age of four. Now only 23, she’s already worked with Kes and has been nominated for Best New International Act at the 2018 BET Awards. Nailah is constantly creating, improving, and revitalizing her sound and her performance skills as she works on breaking out into the international market. We suggest checking out her virtual concert FIAH for the hottest concert experience of your life, or just giving our song recs below a try. Side Note: her Instagram is gorgeous and you should totally bless your feed by following her.
Songs we recommend: ‘Bad!,’ ‘SOKAH,’ ‘Iron Love,’ and ‘Sweet and Loco’
Bow down folks to Lyon Empress, who’s been creating history for years. Mrs. Lyons is the first woman to win the Power Category of the International Soca Monarch, and the first person ever to win the Power, Groovy, and People’s Choice categories, all while pregnant no less. She is the 3-time Carnival Road March champion and has performed both locally and internationally, even making an appearance at Coachella in 2015. Her style of Soca (which she writes herself by the way) is fast-paced, upbeat so it’s no wonder she holds the record for most up-tempos ever released by a female Soca musician. Girl is a serious badass, but also a total sweetheart, constantly putting positivity out in the world. Honestly, do yourself a favor and give her music a listen.
Songs we recommend: ‘Block The Road,’ ‘Girls,’ and ‘Dive’
Our last Soca artist has been sharing his remarkable musical talent since he was a teenager and totally impressed Simon Cowell on the 2018 X Factor, making all of Trinidad proud. As the face of Afrosoca music, Olatunji has released his album, Awakening, with FOX FUSE, the world’s largest Soca label. Olatunji always brings a high-energy performance, throwing all his spirit and passion into every second of it. He was born to be an entertainer on the international stage. Don’t believe us? Have a listen to some of his biggest hits below.
Songs we recommend: ‘Ola,’ ‘Bodyline,’ and ‘Riddim We Want’
You can get a feel for these artists on our Passport Playlist – Trinidad & Tobago playlist below!
Did you find a new favorite artist? What country should we visit next with Passport Playlist? Let us know in the comments down below or by tweeting us @TheHoneyPOP!
Aching for more international music? Well, look no further.
Featured Image Source: Jazmin Williams- THP Graphic Design Team