What is Power Soca?

Photo © Jermaine Cruikshank
In The Beginning... there was just Soca music; styles changed and with that naming conventions emerged. It was simple from the start, just Soca but then came the name game: Groovy and Power with similar naming conventions across the Caribbean diaspora... today, we talk a little about "Power Soca".

Soca Music has been around since the seventies. Those were the formative years and much has been said regarding the 'Indianness' of a fusion Calypso and Trinidadian East Indian music. That was where the project began but many get stuck on the Indian sounds of what was called Sokah. However, that changed when Lord Shorty (Ras Shorty I) removed the Indian instrumentation (and in that respect the 'Indiannees') and introduced the Indian musical elements in traditional musical instruments that were used to create the new music. Many musicians added to the new sound resulting in the music that went on to be called 'Soca'. 

Indeed, one can say that musicians are pushing the envelope and making subtle changes. These changes have led to many controversial naming conventions. However, we believe that Soca is Soca, and the heart and soul of the genre rest with the vibe of the drum kit! Today we take note of the naming convention 'Power Soca'.

Power Soca:
Is Power Soca Music based on the speed of the music (about 160 BPM) or is it the style of the production? Speed is speed, that is easy to check however, what about 'style'? How can we quantify the "Power Soca Style"?  Is it the frenetic musical style (fast and energetic in a rather wild and uncontrolled way)? 

This is the menu for your musical delight Is it about speed (tempo), style (roughness and ability to send the audience in a tizzy), or a hybrid of both? Is it the 'roughness of the musical/vocal delivery' or is it the maddening frenzy a Power Soca song creates? What is it and how do we define it?

In the early days of Soca, there was no naming convention other than Soca. Then Super Blue dropped his unique singing style accompanied by music that was called 'jump and wave'. The music was fast-paced and the crowds went wild whenever he performed. This was not the 'normal' dance Soca music that people were accustomed to hearing. However, the Trinidadians did not call it 'Power Soca' their naming convention was 'Jump and Wave'. 

In 2005 Saint Vincent music producer  Zowi Stapleton aka "Great Zee" produced a 'riddim' he called 'Flood Storm Riddim'. Out of that Riddim came a song entitled "Mad". It was raw and sent his audience into a frenzy just the way Super Blue did. However, remember Super Blue's style came long before 2005. Great Zee coined the term 'Power Soca' for his creation. The term was embraced by all. 

Both Super Blue and Great Zee songs had one thing in common... speed. The music had a faster tempo. It does not matter which one was faster because this was faster than the traditional Soca that had a tempo around 135 BPM. This new music went way up to 160 BPM!

As I mentioned before Soca is Soca regardless of what is added to create what could be mistakenly mislabeled as a new sub-genre. Power Soca like the term Groove Soca is just naming conventions. A slower pace versus fast pace music with added 'vigor'. 

Of course, there are disagreements regarding what is and what is not Power Soca. We will go with the fast tempo and 'roughness' of the lyrical delivery and the ability of the artiste to send the crowd into a frenzy. It should be noted here that the Power Soca songs are the ones 'considered and judged' for Road March honors. Finally, it should also be noted that the vast majority of the problems related to naming conventions are simply territorial... we conclude, Soca is Soca regardless of the tempo.
As the speed changed, we moved from mid-speed to power speed:

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