As a 365 day lover of soca, I’ve quietly observed Voice’s meteoric rise from a position of academic interest. The most impressive aspect of Voice’s ascendancy in the Soca kingdom from a writer to back to back International Soca Monarch winner has been the lyricism of his compositions. Lyricism in soca? That’s an oxymoron right? That was when the question hit me. Is Voice the Soca version of Kendrick Lamar?
This is not to say that Voice it the only lyrical soca artiste. GBM Nutron is also a very lyrical soca artiste. Take in a handful of his songs and you’ll immediately observe clever use of trini slang and an innate knack for storytelling. What separates Voice, in the Kendrick Lamar comparison, is how conscious his music is. I mean, by and large, soca is the soundtrack of bamcees rotating behind a fleet of transformed optimus primes. It isn’t the deepest music, by design. Voice, a subtle master of melody, manages to add things such as introspection, social commentary and wisdom into his compositions without sacrificing it’s ‘winability’.
In a similar vein, especially with his latest album “Damn”, Kendrick has managed to snag a crocus bag of critical acclaim alongside eye-popping Billboard success. His single “Humble” topped the Billboard Hot 100 and his album was one of the best selling this year. In addition, he has managed to garner multiple Grammy nods including the prestigious album of the year. One of his hit singles DNA, is a dissection of racism and inequality on a banging milly-rock worthy scorcher of a beat courtesy Mike WiLL Made-It. I mean, women would probably twerk to this…the irony. Especially in 2017, Kendrick has managed to achieve the best of both worlds.
In two seasons, Voice is very close to the summit of the soca pole. How did he do it? Well let’s see. He started in 2016 with “Cheers to Life”, a song of introspection and inspiration to become the first completely new artiste to win the Soca Monarch competition. He followed that up by winning consecutively in 2017 with a prophetic composition that painstakingly detailed his rise in music – “Far From Finished”. “Now Jah Jah bless me with the opportunity to fly country to country/ Now ah could drink Champagne when ah tusty” – hate it or love it when you hear a line like that you must react like below
I was legitimately curious about how Voice would follow up in 2018. I watched this early interview on the Madder Drive with bated breath. The first thing that struck me was how humble (word to Kendrick) the youngest ever back to back soca monarch winner was. I mean it caught me off-guard. Then he announced he would be doing a song with Marge Blackman. I was like “ok”. I mean I have nothing against Marge but it didn’t seem like the typical power play. Then a minute later, he and Marge proceeded to raise my pores higher than current bus route fares. I was literally floored. The melody, lyrics with a conscience theme. And it fete-worthy. Like how is it possible to go left field and still hit the sweet spot between conscious and commercial?
This reminds me of Kendrick’s collab with Hip Hop legend MC Eiht on M.A.A.D. City, one of my favourite songs off his album Good Kid, M.A.A.D. This again was a left field move that didn’t seem to reap any obvious commercial cache. In 2012 you’d have expected him to be barking over a Lex Luger production alongside Rick Ross or maybe introspecting over a Kanye beat with…Kanye. But the result of the move was fire in an unsuspecting way. It’s like “how did he know?”
And with Voice’s latest release I literally have no words. The upendo riddim by itself is molten fire, which is another story, but Voice’s contribution is legend making stuff. He’s taking a soca beat and using it to drop a vicious social commentary with cross-hairs firmly aimed at the wutless criminals plaguing the society. This is literally on the pulse of the nation right now. In all respect, he came even harder than M1, one of the most lyrical entities soca has ever seen. The last time I witnessed this is early Bunji, and he has a more rapso delivery which so lyrical focus is expected. But this right here, this shit is mind-boggling.
Currently Soca is not an officially recognized genre worldwide. It is not a recognized genre on iTunes. You can win a reggae grammy but not a soca grammy. So unlike Kendrick Lamar, Voice can’t win a grammy for soca anytime soon. But like Kendrick, Voice has critical and commercial acclaim on lock. I won’t be surprised if he wins the hattrick. We’ll see how it goes.
Subscribe to the blog or is licks