DICE: Calypso King of Kings
The above is a title once held by the Scrunter in a one-off contest featuring the best-of-the-best songs by some of the best calypsonians of that era. Now it is safe to say that after 12 years of competition, 7 crowns, 5 road marches, and having always placed when he did not win, King Dice is the best-of-the-best ever and one of the best the OECS has seen in the league of Antigua's Short Shirt.
The difference is very few Caribbean people other than Dominican nationals know of the genius of this artiste and so it is incumbent on the nation at large to do something about it. Our Calypso finals, for some time now, has been the best in the region but this secret is hidden within the confines of our country and as Karessa stated so well in song: "Calypso ain't leaving Roseau."
Dice has now grown well beyond these shores and is equivalent to our bananas, waterfalls, rivers and other natural attributes worthy of export. Of course since attitude determines altitude, I would want to think he has graduated somewhat from 'questionable behaviour' and can now be elevated to ambassador statue as Michele Henderson has.
Today I challenge the Dominica Calypso Association, the Dominica Festivals Commission, Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Tourism, Mas Camp and the private sector to sit down and develop a schedule aimed at utilizing King Dice as a promotional tool for Dominica's Calypso and the country in general.
For starters, I would advance that Dice should perform as guest artiste at the Calypso finals in St Lucia, St Vincent, Antigua and Barbados. A show in Antigua or the Virgin Islands featuring King Dice is not a difficult undertaking given the various associations and contacts that we have in these islands and, if called upon, I am willing to assist.
How is it that over the year's calypsonians from these islands are hosted and facilitated by our people and King Dice whose talent far surpasses these artistes is left at the mercy of one US tour annually organised by Anne Marie Clarke? The myth that our songs are too locally oriented must be dispelled as there are scores of universal themes addressed from Wizard's "Feed my Brother" in the mid –Eighties to Beno's "New peace" this year and several from the Dice himself. Don't we realise the gem and the opportunities for promoting this country that we have in King Dice? Should he remain 'on his own' because he performs material that disturbs those in authority? Quite ironically, Dice's fan base is rooted among the ghetto youths whom the ruling party boast they represent.
This year we had the Scholar from Grenada as a guest act in or finals for more than 20 minutes. So what's wrong with Dice that he cannot be so facilitated? Yes, I can hear someone saying he get his $20,000; let him do his promotion himself. Well, that may be so but this is greater than Dice, it's about the State and not his financial state. As a past president of the DCA, I know that some persons in the private sector share the myopic view that because Calypso is the biggest event for carnival then it does not require sponsorship. It may be that some executive members who compete against the Dice may now be feeling that they are just working every year to crown him and so may begrudge efforts in promoting his talent beyond our shores.
No matter our differing views, we have to admit that that Dice is phenomenal and being in his early thirties he is just ripe for the picking. He is a master artiste who should accompany government teams and agencies on trade shows just as is afforded Ophelia, the Kalinagos, and Carnival Queens etc.
I say this against the background that in 2001-2002 I visited Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent, St Kitts, Nevis and Barbados and not one DJ or radio personality whom I spoke to ( or who interviewed me in my capacity as president of the DCA) knew of Scrunter, Hurricane, Observer while only a few had heard of Hunter. Note that at that time Dice had just arrived on the scene and had not yet blossomed. I was shocked as they seem only to be aware of Swingin' Stars, Grammax, Conch Shell and Balance Batty by the WCK. Yet we knew of Red Plastic Bag, Gabby, Obstinate, Swallow, Short Shirt, Winston SoSo, Becket, Talpree and a host of Trinidadians. We (Intruder and Senator) attempted to promote our music and left as many CDs as possible with DJs and radio stations; so much so Intruder's cellular phone became a mega hit in Nevis.
What then divides us? Our best Calypso competitions are not seen on CMC or other regional media. Every year for the past 10 years I have been interviewed by St. Kitts radio station on Dominica and its Calypso (so impressed they have been from the CD's I left there) and the general administration of our Calypso which is second to none in the region. They are fascinated that we run our own show and we are the only association with its own Calypso house, albeit a white elephant. Since then nothing has been done to continue this promotional thrust which is even more in demand now that we have the best ever in King Dice.
'When a man can win seven
And can do so out of eleven
Or when one can win five road march
And look like he just start
It's nothing strange
It's time for change'
We need to change our approach to the brand King Dice who needs to be marketed to the next level; the same can be extended to King Hunter, my all-time Number 2, the Bobb, Karessa and a few others.