Don’t get it confused with the Dominican Republic (that nation is featured next week). Dominica is a Caribbean island nation alive with the Creole spirit and the soul of calypso. Let’s meet five bands and artists meshing pulsating tunes with passionate political sermons.
Windward Caribbean Kulture are the creators of bouyon, a “gumbo soup” of music that mixes Creole, Carib, calypso, African and reggae influences. Since 1988, the high-energy innovators have put to infectious rhythms lyrics tackling social injustice. A revolving door of vocalists have led this groundbreaking group, whose albums include Set My People Free and Culture Shock.
“Where Di Money” might be the best sample of Scatman John we’ve ever heard. But beyond that, Asa Bantan’s electrifying track addresses poverty in his nation. The artist juxtaposes a happy-go-lucky, flirtatious vibe with messages of fairness and togetherness. He’s taking the bouyon torch from WCK and running toward a universal sound.
Specializing in Creole love songs, Michele Henderson has been infusing zouk with international R&B since the mid-’90s. A melismatic, charismatic contemporary of Brandy, Henderson is one of the most acclaimed artists in the Caribbean. Her most recent album, Chez Moi, came out in 2013.
When you’re an artist and you piss off the most powerful man in your country, you know you’re doing something right. On its surface, King Dice’s “MyDominicaTradeHouse.com” seems like one of those trendy dance songs named after a hashtag. But his lyrics — co-written by the nation’s “chief musician,” Pat Aaron — accuse Senior Counsel Tony Astaphan of being “a rich man in Sodom.” Astaphan — who seems to be Dominica’s answer to Donald Trump — shot back in a January 2016 interview with the Talking Point radio show that King Dice could be a global star if he would stop singing Aaron’s “foolish” songs. We say, let the battle rage on, Dice.
Speaking of Aaron, his progressive music has been enlivening Dominica since the 1980s. The calypso beats and spirited horns have always punctuated his matter-of-fact singing style—a sort of Bob Marley meets Bob Dylan amalgam. Aaron has been a vocal opponent of censorship for years, coming to the defense of King Dice, Checko and other calypsonians when they’ve faced legal ramifications for their truth-telling music.
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