With over 500 Crop Over songs submitted for airplay on his radio stations, Programme Manager at Starcom Network Ronnie Clarke is pleased with some of what he is hearing. Where Sweet Soca and Party Monarch are concerned, Clarke said he was pleased with the amount of new artistes who are making their presence felt.
“As usual, there are some newcomers who have made quite an achievement making their presence felt. I think the competition should be keenly contested. While outside of Crop Over, there’s a considerable amount of music that would be lost.,” he said.
“Some people create from an artistic perspective with no competition in mind. Then there are some [songs] that are deliberately constructed with competition in mind. There’s a lot of music that will be around for a long time.”
Clarke, known in calypso circles by his stage name De Announcer, also commented on the number of artistes now making music not only for Crop Over but for other markets as well.
“People have different reasons for getting involved. There are some artistes who are serious about their craft. There are some producers who are serious about their craft. There are serious managers who understand what the potential benefits are with that type of work. There is work which is simple but it is produced to get a certain type of response,” he explained.
Where social commentary was concerned, Clarke said he was glad to see many such songs being recorded for radio this year.
“Speaking in my capacity as programme manager, I would say there is a lot of social commentary which has been recorded and made available to radio stations and the overwhelming majority of it has been played. It would be nice if we could get some tent recordings so we could get that live feel. What seems to happen is when the semifinals come, and you have that two week gap between semifinals and finals, that you try to get more of a feel for the live performances,” he said.
On the quality of the songs, Clarke said it was fantastic.
“It’s different from last year. Last year, the 50th anniversary [of Independence] theme was dominant but elections are around the corner, so there’s a good amount of work that is touching on things political and mashing some toes too,” he said.
As for Bashment soca, Clarke said it was an avenue for some who would not normally make a contribution to the festival to do so. He urged people not to bash the music but to see it for what it is.
“Bashment is what bashment is. There are some that naturally rise above the rest. Then there are some that have the hope of advancing to the last stage of the competition. Then there are some who have the love for dancehall and not necessarily soca. They can get involved at that point. They’re not going to sing power or social commentary at this point because they’re not comfortable doing so.”
Clarke advised the artistes to know their craft and to be careful in all they do. “I would encourage them not to disgrace themselves, whether male or female. Look for angles where they could say something which people can accept without necessarily having to decide if it’s being released for commercial purposes or for the streets.”
He went on: “If you’re releasing it for the streets or the club, then you release it for the streets or the club. Don’t try and pass it off as something else. That’s not a new challenge. Social media is where the platform allows for any and everything. There’s no vetting. Then there is the matter of personal choice of what you want to accept and what you allow those of a certain age to access.”