The Race For 2024 Is On!

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Soca stars vie to grab Carnival 2024 spotlight

By Michael Mondezie

Mical Teja (Mical Williams) is leading all comers into Carnival 2024.

The D All Stars lead singer has sung and written two of the most requested songs of the upcoming short season, including his Road March contender ‘DNA’ and Farmer Nappy’s (Darryl Henry) groovy anthem ‘How Ah Living’.

Teja also has another gem on his hands in the recently released ‘Runaway’, an ode to the late Explainer’s (Winston Henry) 1982 classic ‘Lorraine’.

The Gonzales, Belmont-born bard acknowledged he was on to something special this coming year when he spoke to the Express in October, following the announcement that he had joined D All Starz frontline.

‘It feels like a rite of passage. For me it has always been my hope and dream to find a home. The musicality behind my music is really tailored to a band. Having that tightness and well-rehearsed sound makes the world of a difference,’ Teja said.

Usually, fans and critics alike temper speculations over early soca hits on Boxing Day, expecting late entrants into the Road March race from veterans Neil ‘Iwer’ George and Machel Montano.

But, with the former showing a weak early hand in the controversial national anthem-fuelled ‘Happy People’ and with the latter announcing a withdrawal from the festivities, for the first time since 2010, the race is wide open.

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Masqueraders would recall radio DJs Jason ‘JW’ Williams and Blaze (Ancil Isaac Jr) shocked the Carnival space to claim the International Soca Monarch and Road March titles that year with their ubiquitous ‘Palance’. So potent was the Kernal Roberts-written/ produced sing-along anthem that it still sidesteps and hops its way into DJ fete playlists to this day.

Kernal, by the way, deserves an honourable mention for his danceable singles ‘Legendary’ and ‘Numb’. Like father, like son, Kernal’s music is most likely what Kitchener (the late Aldwyn Roberts) would sound like if he operated in the modern era.

LADIES’ TIME?

In the absence of big-name threat, the door is conceivably once again ajar for another first-timer to steal the show. At least that’s what soca princess Nailah Blackman will be hoping.

After her road-ready collaboration with Vincentian Skinny Fabulous (Gamal Doyle) ‘Come Home’ narrowly missed out on a maiden title earlier this year, to Bunji Garlin’s (Ian Alvarez) ‘Hard Fete’, the South-born soca star is back in contention. Her mid-tempo ‘Jam of the Year’ is proving an early crowd pleaser, while the raunchy ‘Round & Rosie’ is already a certified ‘girls dem chune’.

Nailah adopted a what-eh-miss-yuh-ehpass- yuh perspective when she spoke to the Express recently about that ‘disappointing’ loss.

‘I think whatever you put your mind to, you must get. The fact that it (the road title) was never on my radar and it fell upon my lap, with me just wanting to do my thing and be successful, I thank that now it’s something that I do want and I understand the importance of it,’ Nailah said.

When you’re speaking of the true ladies’ anthem of Carnvial 2024, however, there is only really one name you should be calling: ‘Nadie!’ Nadia Batson’s runaway hit ‘Market’, or as everyone else knows it ‘the whole blinking Market’, is empowering women of all ages and walks of life.

Patrice Roberts is doing the same with her vulnerable ‘Anxiety’. The Toco-born singer reveals her innermost battles in the inspiring song, that has true fete-shaking potential. However, after tragically losing her fiancé, soca star Ricardo Drue, this month, it remains to be seen just how much of an active role the singer will play in the upcoming Carnival. The Antigua-born soca star’s sudden and yet-to-be-explained passing has shook the entire space and understandably left Patrice out of sorts.

Lyrikal outshines the rest Kes (Kees Dieffenthaller), Voice (Aaron St Louis), Erphaan Alves and Olatunji Yearwood have met expectations with their radio-ready releases. Kes’ ‘Tack Back’, Voice’s ‘PentHouse’, Erphaan’s ‘Anchor Down’ and ‘The Answer’ and Ola’s ‘Inventor’ are all on full rotation on the nation’s airwaves.

How exactly they all translate onto the fete circuit and inevitably the road, however, is left to be seen. Yes, you will take a chip, yes, you might take a wine, but will you leap in excitement at the opening notes to any of those songs?

Don’t panic! Lyrikal’s (Devon Martin) got you! The New York-based party starter is having his best year ever with the inspiring lift-yuh-handin- de-air ‘Blessed Day’ on the Real Life Riddim and wine-and-go-down ‘Stick On’ on the Sine Wave Riddim.

Lyrikal also has a potential classic on his hands in his collaboration with calypso legend David Rudder, ‘Major Damage’. If ‘the boy who could’ gets his stage show right, he could very well be the star attraction this Carnival.

Bunji Garlin, meanwhile, is still doing Bunji Garlin things. The Black Spaniard has already released a full album worth of thoughtful singles that seem to sound better with every listen. ‘Classic Like’, on the King Bubba Tape Deck Riddim, is the pick of the litter. Garlin is at his best on the 80s-fuelled rhythm.

‘Tell Yuh Mudda’, ‘Monsters’ on the Nicely Riddim and ‘X’ on the Militant Riddim are also all worth a listen.

Aaron Duncan’s eyebrow-raising ‘Feel That’, Dev’s (Devon Harris) comical and bacchanal jam ‘Everything on Your Name’ on the Real Life Riddim, Jadel (Jardine Legere) and Nessa Preppy’s (Vanessa John) ‘To My Ex’, should also be on your car playlist. Viking Ding Dong’s (Andre Houlder) ‘Harder’ and Umi Marcano’s ‘Umbrella’ on the Say Something Riddim are also spectacularly sonically pleasing.

For more trending soca hits, check out DJ Mario’s latest charts HERE

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