Ragga Soca; A Mixture of Jamaican Ragga music and Trinidad's Soca

Here is an abstract from an article written by Glenda Alicia E. Leung. The article was first published 11/06/2009:

"In the late 1990s, a new musical genre emerged in Trinidad called Ragga Soca . Ragga Soca is described as the product of blending Trinidad's indigenous soca music with Jamaican Dancehall. One peculiarity of Ragga Soca is the borrowing of Jamaican Creole English phonological features into the performance genre.

Initially, there was much opposition to this genre as it challenged notions of Trinidadian identity and self. This paper considers the linguistic innovativeness of Ragga Soca  artists, in particular, their use of Jamaican Creole English phonological borrowings, demonstrating that they have not only created a new performance genre, but have used Jamaican Creole English to mediate their Trinidadian identity."
via http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/

Ragga Soca Competition Winners (Trinidad & Tobago)
This competition was canceled/lost appeal because of the Soca Monarch Competition and lack of Financial support for what was considered a Jamaican style of music that was loved and followed by the young at heart. The business community was not interested with this youthful exuberance exhibited by these young followers of a misunderstood style of music. People saw the sub-genre as a continuation of Dancehall music that once crippled the calypso industry and had people like Lord Shorty seeking alternative ways to stem the tide of the Jamaican music tsunami that rocked Trinidad and Tobago. 

The following information was sourced from the website tntisland.com:
1999 - Iwer George - Iwer And Ah Half
2000 - Bunji Garlin - Chant Down Babylon
2001 - Bunji Garlin - Licks

Here is a Ragga Soca song that I like and chose to post the song simply because it identifies with the name of the music genre, "Ragga Soca"! This song was vocalize by the man who is simply the best Ragga Soca Singer in the whole damn World!

We are also enlisting a late addition to the mix. Along with the track 'Ragga Soca' we are also posting one entitled 'iRagga' also by Bunji Garlin.

Please be advised that the music is presented here for your listening pleasure and for promotional purposes only ("Fair Use" Musical Content Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976). No copyright infringement is intended! We encourage you to promote the artists and their music; please don't share the music and rob the artists of needed income!
Please press the play button (below) to listen (small triangle in circle).

A post by Socapro on islandmix.com

The word Ragga is the term used to describe Jamaican Raggamuffin music, a popular style of dancehall music pioneered by the ghetto youths and artists of Jamaica.

The main distinction between ragga(muffin) music and Dancehall is that Ragga is a synonym for dancehall reggae with a deejay CHATTING rather than deejaying or singing on top of the Riddim as was done by the earlier generation of Jamaican Dancehall DJs.

For more information,you can go to this link for some more details: Ragga - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Now onto Ragga-Soca and its definition
In Trinidad & Tobago the place where the term Ragga-Soca was coined and where the music was originally defined, Ragga-Soca is basically a sub-genre of Soca music pioneered mostly by the younger generation of artists who finally turned to Soca music after originally trying to sing ragga or Jamaican dancehall reggae but were generally unsuccessful in breaking into the Jamaican dancehall reggae market.

T&T dancehall artists choice to turn towards singing their raggamuffin style lyrics/chanting on soca rhythms was also encouraged by the fact that the local T&T radio stations and DJs were generally biased towards playing dancehall reggae music from the established Jamaican raggamuffin dancehall artists above playing the offerings from their local T&T counterparts.

So facing this scenario local T&T artists like General Grant, KMC, etc encouraged by certain producers started to turn to soca music & rhythms in the early 90’s to establish and develop the ragga-soca genre in T&T which was initially also referred to as Binghi-Soca by some artists (mainly those working out of the world class Caribbean Sound Basin studio) and as Dancehall-Soca by most other soca artists.

A similar thing also happened simultaneously in Jamaica when popular Raggamuffin dancehall act Admiral Bailey teamed up with their top soca band Byron Lee and the Dragonaries to produce ragga-soca hits like "Dancehall Soca" etc all written by top T&T calypsonian and songwriter Barnet "Preacher" Henry.

So in summary in T&T we say that Ragga(muffin)-Soca is the fusion of Raggamuffin Dancehall with Soca with a strong emphasis on the lyrical style of the dancehall artists to reflect the Raggamuffin DJ element in the music.
Earliest examples of Ragga-Soca tracks fitting this definition are posted lower down in post #2 of this thread.
The term "Ragga-Soca" was coined by Kenny Phillips of KMP Music Lab during the 1993 T&T Carnival season. Kenny Phillips was also one of Preacher’s main music producers in the 90's.
He is the owner of KMP Music Lab Studios and is now also a director at Wack 90.1FM based in San Fernando, Trinidad where they play and archive a lot of historic calypso & soca recordings.

Meanwhile in VincyLand
Inspired by the world’s first ever annual Ragga Soca Monarch competition held in T&T in 1999, 2000 and 2001 as part of the T&T Carnival celebrations, SVG (St Vincent & The Grenadines) launched its own version of the Ragga Soca Monarch Competition in mid 2001 as part of the annual Vincy Mas celebrations.
Unfortunately they also copied the biggest structural error of the T&T Ragga Soca Monarch competition (that eventually contributed to the demise of the competition in T&T) which is allowing almost any style of soca music entry into their competition once that music is slowed and labelled/presented as a ragga-soca.

Here is Bunji Garlin the Black Spaniard and undisputed Ragga-Soca Lyrics King talking about the bad structuring of the original T&T Ragga Soca Monarch competition which he took part in for all of the three years that it happened in T&T and which he won on two of the three occasions.

If you wish to find out more about Bunji Garlin and why he is rightfully referred to as the King of Ragga Soca then go to this thread: Tribute to the King of Ragga Soca Bunji Garlin thread!

Of course over the years since the SVG Ragga Soca Monarch competition started in mid 2001 this has inevitably led to confusion and disagreement between SVG and other Caribbean islands (particularly T&T where the term ragga-soca was originally coined and defined) about what style of soca can be classified as a ragga-soca.

In SVG the word Ragga is now being used in place of the word Slow or Groovy to describe a slow or groovy soca style that may or may not contain any raggamuffin element whatsoever.
In other words Ragga in SVG is now more about the speed of the music and no longer has anything to do with the original raggamuffin element that characterised ragga-soca music when the term was coined and defined in Trinidad & Tobago in early 1993.

So today in SVG once you slow down soca music, many (not all) folks from that country will automatically referred to it as Ragga-Soca to the extent that their 2011 Road March winning song which clearly sounds nothing like a ragga-soca to anyone from outside of SVG was allowed entry into the SVG 2011 Ragga Soca Monarch competition.

Summary & Conclusion
So in summary many (not all) Vincies now use the word Ragga to mean the same as Slow or Groovy and what they call ragga-soca there may not even contain raggamuffin vocal or music elements. It’s all about the speed of a soca song in SVG that leads some folks from there to classify it as a ragga-soca song.

In T&T and most of the other Caribbean islands we refer to ragga-soca as soca music that contains the Raggamuffin element which was originally inspired by the popular Raggamuffin Dancehall music craze that swept the Caribbean in the late 80's .
Also in T&T ragga-soca music which originally started out at a groovy pace has now matured to cover a variety of speeds meaning that you can have a slower pace of ragga-soca songs that can be entered into a Groovy-Soca Monarch competition while you may also have a faster pace of Ragga-Soca songs that can be entered into a Power Soca Monarch competition.
The common thread with all genuine Ragga-Soca songs is that it should always contain that crucial Raggamuffin element that quickly and easily distinguishes it as a Ragga-Soca whether it is slow (a groovy) or fast (a power).

Now fully understanding the history behind the use of the term Ragga-Soca both in T&T and SVG, I personally prefer to go with the original T&T definition as that definition is much clearer and sticks to the elements in the music that helped to define it; Also the original T&T definition is not potentially confusing like the Vincy interpretation usually is.

I hope you folks have found this information that I've presented in this post enlightening as I have done my best to present the facts that I have discovered so far on both sides of the Ragga-Soca definition argument. Hopefully this post has cleared up any misconceptions and misunderstandings we’ve been having.


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