Reigning Sweet Soca monarch Stedson RPB Wiltshire may not be defending his title this year, but you can count defending Party Monarch Ricky Lil Rick Reid in for this year’s big Soca Royal showdown at Bushy Park, St Philip on July 29, even though Pic-O-Crop king Ian iWeb Webster is still mulling over his title defence on August 4.
The three Crop Over 2017 champions spoke to Barbados TODAY against the backdrop of concerns about a seemingly low-keyed 2018 festival, in which veteran calypsonian Adonijah has already announced that he is bowing out of all forms of competition, while taking issue with the judging format used by the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) to select Sweet Soca and Party Monarch finalists.
“The semifinalists for Party Monarch and Sweet Soca are judged by CD. You submit your CD and there is a panel that listens to it and then chooses the people,” he explained to Barbados TODAY immediately after the 32 semifinalists for the two competitions were announced late last month.
At the time Adonijah also stated that it was “almost embarrassing sometimes when you see people get to the stage and they have to perform live.
“They cannot make it,” he stressed, while suggesting that the NCF needs “to go back to the times when you could watch and hear someone singing and see whether the person had a good song and could deliver it well.
“A CD does not give you that. With a CD you have all types of technology that can make you sound perfect and what makes it equally unfair is that it depends on the quality of studio that you are in and the quality of the engineer,” the veteran calypsonian stressed, adding that “if you go to a studio in someone’s bedroom who does not really know what they are doing, when your thing comes out it is not going to sound like someone who went to [veteran producers] Nicholas Brancker or Stefan Walcott or Chris Allman or the Red Boyz,” the veteran entertainer and former Road March king stressed.
However, while expressing some of the same reservations today, Lil Rick, who copped the Party Monarch crown for the second time in a row last year singing Energy, told Barbados TODAY that this would not deter him from defending his 2017 title.
“I will be defending mine,” he said, even while suggesting that an ‘American Idol’ styled live preliminary event could support judging based on CDs.
“Even if they do not have a [calypso] tent, try to get some sort of preliminary show. It will come off the same way the semifinals come off . . . . It may not be on a big scale, [but] it can be transparent, you can have fun out of it, and it can be televised.
“We can do this like ‘American Idol’. You would have the judges there and the whole of Barbados seeing that it is judged fairly. You walk in and if you do not sound good, the judges tell you, ‘stop, stop, stop, no, next person,’” he suggested, while stressing the need for contestants to “prove that they can handle the rhythm [and] that the voice that we are hearing on the record is real”.
The popular entertainer further suggested that the NCF should mandate all artistes competing in the annual Sweet Soca and Party Monarch competitions to pay a $100 fee in support of increased prize money for the eventual winners.
“I feel that everybody could pay a fee to enter the competition, [but right now] everyone is just entering scot free and then quarrelling bad [if they don’t make it to the finals].
“I feel that a fee could get implanted into the competition as it would bring more prize money to the artistes.
“A hundred dollars cannot kill as you have a whole year to prepare to pay the hundred dollars until Crop Over comes back around,” he said.
Lil Rick’s comments came on the heels of the announcement made by veteran entertainer RPB over the weekend that he will not be defending his Sweet Soca crown after walking away with the top price in last year’s competition with his very popular Boat Ride.
In defence of his decision, RPB told Barbados TODAY that after spending 36 years, or the majority of his adult life, taking part in the calypso arena, he was no longer interested in competing for positions.
However, the veteran performer, who started singing social commentary from the tender age of 16, made it clear that he had not retired from the entertainment industry.
“Basically what has happened is that I have decided to stay away from all National Cultural Foundation competitions,” explained RPB who had earlier stopped competing in the social commentary aspect of Crop Over.
“I believe that I have reached a stage in my career where I have competed for my entire adult life. It has been a long journey and to be honest it is tough to be in competitions like that every year,” he told Barbados TODAY, adding that “I love Soca Royale and I would want to continue to make a contribution, but I cannot continue to be making my contribution at competition level because I just feel that I am at a point in my life where I need to move on from the competition.
“[However], I will continue to make music and make my contribution to Crop Over, but I think that as it relates to competition I have reached the end of my journey,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, reigning Pic-O- De-Crop king Ian iWeb Webster said today, he was still uncertain if he would be defending his crown this year.
“I have not announced that I will be in all forms of competition. I announced that I [was] in the Sweet Soca competition and the Bashment Soca competition with Enterprise Squad. I will probably enter the Party Monarch, but in terms of a title defence, I have not spoken to that issue as yet. My answer continues to be, ‘I am not sure yet,’”he told Barbados TODAY.
However, when contacted Event Coordinator for the Crop Over Festival Adisa Aja Andwale sought to downplay the current uncertainty surrounding this year’s festival saying the situation in which persons were deciding not to enter the competition was nothing new.
“ I have not heard anything, but people not defending crowns is nothing new. Edwin has not defended his before, Bag has not defended his crown before, the Mighty Gabby has not defended his crown before [so] it is not a precedent.
“There is no issue. If there was an issue they first [people] that would have told you that would be the artistes themselves,” he told Barbados TODAY.