One of my favorite things about Trinidad and Tobago is the fact that there are more purple cars there than any place on earth. Also, it is a place where you can find a 70ish year old man at the bus stop dressed in jeans tucked into cowboy boots, a lavender frilly tuxedo shirt, leather vest, red vinyl cowboy hat and aviator glasses clutching a 5 gallon bucket of fish. On the same bus, you might also encounter a super buff guy with a grip of fat dreads ala HR, dressed in super mercenary garb – bullet proof vest, oakley shades, utility belt, a big smile but no apparent affiliation to the government or anything else……from the army of Jah, I guess….one of my other favorite things are the mobile sound systems (of course!). I’ve included some links to some of the big choons to give you an idea of what it sounds like……..
When I asked where to get CDs in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, I was told to go to Frederick Street, Charlotte Street and the Promenade where I could find CDRs with printed labels of all the newest soca, chutney and Jamaican (and some Trinbagonian stuff as well, like Job’s “The Country Boy Song“).
The CDs are sold by vendors who advertise their services by blasting the latest tracks from their mobile sound carts. Basically a car stereo system built into a custom made speaker cabinet/display case on wheels, they go for about TT$5000.00 (about US$850) brand new. The CDs are your standard CDR (unlabeled, so you better hope that the CD inside matches the cover which may or may not have song titles) and go for TT$20 (about US$3.25).
There are obviously lots of ganja songs (like “The Country Boy Song”), but there are also, of course, many songs about rum. However, not so many songs about rotis…..”Rum and Roti” by Da Mastermind and Patch.
Here you can see the amplifier and car battery. These guys decided to move shop mid-day – the benefits of a shop on wheels!
Another big chutney track, “Jep Sting” by Hunter, Drupatie Ravi & Andy.
I was looking for a track that remixes “Magalenha” from Sergio Mendes’ Brasileiro and finally found it with this guy – it’s Busy Signal’s “Up Inna Belly.”
Of course, it being carnival time, the road marches were also big on the CD vendor’s sound systems. I’m sure you can find all of those easily on other blogs. Me, I’m BURNED out on them! Can’t take another day of hearing “put your hands up” or “going down the road,” or “my big banana” or “bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, etc”. But, here’s one that I like that talks about jouvert – “Tanty Say” by Benjai ft. Scorpion.
To get a good approximation of what it’s like to hear this music in context, you can crank up the treble and the bass, turn up the volume to the point of distortion and then walk back and forth in front of your speakers while your friend jumps from track to track. That’s a little like hearing it on the street….
“Feel It” by I-Shasha
The Chutney Soca Monarch for 2009 is Kenneth Salick with his track “Radica.” This is best heard drunkenly (the Rough Guide says that drinking and driving in Tobago is NOT illegal) navigating blind mountainside curves at very high speeds in a trashed Toyota Corolla with stunning ocean views while a 6 year old shouts the lyrics as loudly as possible in your ear.