Caribbean Music: The Prop to Popular Music…

| July 9, 2013
Kieran Etoria-King

Social Commentator – Kieran Etoria-King

The Caribbean is a vibrant and colourful region, and one of the ways this is best exhibited is in its music.

Reggae, Calypso, and Soca are all distinct and recognisable genres which originated among the islands, and have spread all over the world.

For such small countries, the former colonies of the Caribbean have had a profound impact on world music.

Everyone knows about the obvious impact Bob Marley made, as through his music and views the man has become a symbol of freedom from oppression and a generally recognised musical legend, as well as synonymous with the word ‘Jamaica’.

Calypso and Soca, both originating in Trinidad and Tobago may not have such iconic world stars, but the genres have spawned many instantly recognisable hits.

‘Hot, Hot, Hot’ by Arrow out of Montserrat and ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’ by UK based Bahamian band, Baha Men are two examples that will probably never go away – you would struggle to find someone of any age in any civilised area of the world who doesn’t know those songs making Caribbean news.

Baha Men

Baha Men. Photo courtesy www.bahamasb2b.com

More recent hits such as ‘Crank Dat’ by Soulja Boy and ‘212’ by Azealia Banks also take influence from Soca, with the former being heavily composed using steel drums and the latter using a similar beat pattern.

In fact, the music genres of the region deserve a lot of credit for the roles they have played as ancestors of some of the most popular music of today. The rhythms, themes and patterns of Calypso were infused into Hip Hop from its inception, for example, and with stars like Kanye West and Jay-Z leading the charge, that is arguably the most lucrative genre in the western world these days.

Reggae has spread its wings far and wide throughout the world – it is surprisingly popular in eastern Asia, for example – but a slightly more obscure link which may surprise people is the direct connection between reggae and the modern electrical dance genres of Dubstep and Drum and Bass.

The sub-genre of dub grew out of remixing popular Reggae and Dancehall tracks to emphasise the drums and the bass elements. Once this spread to America, the UK and Europe, local dj’s added their own influences such as increasing the tempo or further deepening the bass to bone shaking levels, and two of the world’s most popular dance genres were born.

This is a connection which was recognised last year when one of modern dubstep’s most recognisable names, Skrillex, teamed up with Damian Marley to create the track ‘Make It Bun Dem’. Skrillex also worked with rapper A$AP Rocky on the track ‘Wild For The Night’ this year, and the pair filmed the video in the latter’s hometown in the Dominican Republic.

Skrillex and Damian Marley.

Skrillex and Damian Marley. Photo courtesy urbanislandz.com

It could be said that the musicians of the Caribbean collectively suffer from small-man syndrome, as they have certainly overcompensated for their small geopolitical area with a huge worldwide significance.

Perhaps there is just something about the vibrancy and way of life in the Caribbean that people identify with, and the same factors which have made it such a popular holiday destination have also blessed its music.

Perhaps we’re just awesome.

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Category: Anguilla News, Antigua News, Bahamas News, Barbados News, British Virgin Islands News, Culture & Society, Did U Know...?, Dominica News, Grenada News, Guyana News, How Caribbean R U?, Jamaica News, Martinique News, Montserrat News, St Vincent and the Grenadines News, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia News, St. Maarten News, Trinidad News

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We provide news and information for anyone interested in the Caribbean whether you’re UK based, European based or located in the Caribbean. New fresh ideas are always welcome with opportunities for bright writers.

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