Power Soca is Fast-Tempo Soca

Photo © Jermaine Cruikshank

At the beginning... there was just Soca music; styles changed, and 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 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 of Calypso and Trinidadian East Indian music. That was where the project began but many got stuck in the Indian sounds of what was originally spelled 'Sokah'. However, that changed when Lord Shorty (Ras Shorty I) removed the Indian instrumentation (and in that respect the 'Indiannees') and introduced Indian musical elements into the traditional musical instruments used to create the original music. Many musicians added to the evolving sound resulting in music that went on to be called 'Soca'. 

Indeed, musicians push 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 rests on the drum kit vibe! Today we note the naming convention 'Power Soca'.

Power Soca:

Is Power Soca Music based on the speed of the music (about 160 BPM) or the style of the production? Speed is speed, which is easy to determine, but what about 'style'? How can we quantify "Power Soca Style"? Is it a frenetic musical style (fast and energetic in an uncontrolled and uncontrolled way)? In music terms, this is referred to as Vivace – lively and rapid (156–176 BPM). Taking it further, it is referred to as Vivacissimo – very fast and lively (172–176 BPM). 

This is the menu for your musical delight. Is it about speed (tempo), style (roughness and ability to send the audience crazy), or a hybrid of both? Is it the 'roughness of the musical/vocal delivery' or 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 other name than Soca. Super Blue dropped his unique singing style accompanied by music called 'jump and wave'. The music was fast-paced and the crowds erupted wildly whenever he performed. This was not the 'normal' dance Soca music people were used 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' called 'Flood Storm Riddim'. Out of that riddim came a song entitled "Mad". It was raw and sent his audience into a frenzy just like Super Blue did. However, Super Blue's style began 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 have one thing in common... speed. The music had a faster tempo. It does not matter which one was faster because this was quicker than the traditional Soca with a tempo around 135 BPM. This upcoming music accelerated 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. Like Groove Soca, Power Soca is just a naming convention. Slower pace versus fast-paced music with added 'vigor'.

Of course, there are disagreements regarding what is and what is not Power Soca. We will stick with the fast tempo and 'roughness' of the lyrical delivery and the ability of the artist to send the crowd into a frenzy. It should be noted here that Power Soca songs are considered and judged for Road March honors. Finally, it should also be noted that the vast majority of naming convention problems 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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