Calypso assessment and lamentations after The Quarters
Yes, it could be aptly described as lamentations because very few calypsos in the quarter finals of 2013 were political in nature but rather they concentrated on societal ills such as violence, drugs, dishonesty, dis-unity, and general concerns for the youth in particular.
Veteran calypsonian Jama B was a shocker as he made everyone "Feel de Squeeze" in a bouncy composition by the same name. But equally shocking was the omission of Chris B and Lugars with popular numbers "Violence" and "Cannot Eat Concrete." I will not lament too much on this issue, though I was disappointed, because I may be accused of bias since I am the writer of these two compositions; except to say that these performances in question do not deserve to be relegated to the eliminations as they were delivered reasonable well to earn a place. Due respect to the judges' team who I think is competent, and so I am forced to conclude that they saw something that I, and many others, did not.
Praises, however, must be given to Ras Kelly for executing flawlessly, in spite of his absence for many years, with one of the most touching songs for the season- "Papa is you". The same can be said of Hunter who will be a force to be reckoned with this year. I cannot say the same for his counterpart, Scrunter, who performed as well as the song would allow but in the same patriotic mode we have heard many times before from this otherwise gifted calypsonian.
Sye's "My Legacy" was a complete departure from what we have come to expect from the normally fast-paced two- time Road March King. He was different this time around and executed well as he reminisced on our fore-fathers and the role of calypso. Similar sentiments were expressed by the youthful talent, Black Diamond, in "The Power of Calypso." His clarity was unmatched and must have scored high marks for rendition. This I have been advised is where Lugars fell short and an area which he needs to work on and should be viewed as a learning curve in his kaiso career. "A Woman's Worth"- another lyrical piece by first timer Electra went down very well with patrons. However, my only criticism, as she goes forward is her diction/enunciation in the verses as the key seems to be a bit low. But she is in full flight and in her comfort zone when she relates" My granny say…"
Dominica's second longest serving calypso competitor, Checker, was melodious and flawless in the introspective rendition- "When I die"- while Ghetto Prince who was equally melodious moved the audience to the lamentation "Stock Farm Blues." Unlike the sentiments expressed, ironically by a competitor before the competition, repetitions as he has used before and as Beno used in "On de Same Boat" are necessary in the art form particularly in lamentations, call-and-response or to drive home the key component of a song, say like in "We jamming, we jamming, we jamming it." Deros had good support and drove home the popular Road March contender "Ba yo Babalene." The candles in the audience really answered his prayers to the semis.
Explosion with the 'Wizard of Oz' impressed in his calypso commentary but he did not explode even in comparison to other slow social commentaries he has performed in previous years, but he did enough with his witty satirical commentary, "Unite."
Karresah's "Gentle Rest" was full of pun and innuendoes as usual, but this time it was rather gentle, as the song really started building from the 2nd verse unlike other compositions which began hitting from the first few lines. However, as Dominica's premier calypsonian who not just sings but composes and interprets his own songs, he easily impressed the judges.
Lady Star was critical of the judicial system and lamented how easily "Bail" was allowed for some major offences and denied for other minor ones. The strength was the novelty of the composition because of rendition she was probably not as strong as the other ladies in the competition. Rachel, in contrast, was commanding with "The Disappearing Voice" expressing concern for the endangerment of young men.
Meanwhile, Bob's composition was innovative and with the voice he possesses found a way in "Find a way" to the final 20 despite limited air play. This says a lot about his general artistry and innovativeness. Daddy Chess sizzled with his performance, "Madness", but it was Shadow flow which sent the calypso fans in frenzy with "Rum and De Party". Yes, he made an error or two as he got caught up with the moment just as, say, Lugars did last year; but I think that the content of the composition allowed for such mistakes as he was "Drunk" and may have been interpreted as such by the judges having only come for "De Rum and de Party."
Pawol as MC did a fine job in moving the show forward while keeping the audience entertained but he did not over-do it; he must be rated presently as our number one Master of Ceremonies on island.
Well, a fair job by the judges though I remained baffled by the omission of Chris B in particular and of course Lugars. I think that the association needs to look increasing at its pool of judges and the public at the same time must be willing to take on that responsibility and not just wait to say "dey teething." The same judges have been recycled every year for the past 10 years. Incredible! Objectivity must by now be completely blurred!
Nonetheless, I would like to encourage Lugars, Chris B and the other young man in the Eliminations who I think was "hard pressed" with his song: "Illegal Calypso King" and also all the others who fell. Don't be despondent but bounce back and show the true strength of a calypso warrior.