Mr Killa's Run Wid It had everyone picking up whatever was in sight and running with it from people to chairs.
Throughout the history of soca, there have been many songs that got us obeying every command. We made like bulls and trampled through the crowd for Machel Montano’s “Toro Toro”, we ran left and right in fetes thanks to Marvin and Nigel Lewis’ “Moving to the Left”, we hopped from one foot to the other for JW and Blaze’s “Palance”, sat on men’s shoulders for Ronnie McIntosh’s “Donkey” and thanks to Superblue we are still waving. These days, the songs encourage us to go beyond silly dances.
In 2019, Mr Killa swept the nation and the International Soca Monarch title with ‘Run Wid It” and, thanks to his clever social media marketing showing Grenadians picking up items and running with it, many people followed suit, picking up everything from chairs to other people. Problem Child’s ‘Nasty Up’ is the latest song eliciting wild behaviour with its call for strange behaviour.
“We go mash-up and buy it back, tear it down and build it back,” he sings in the chorus.
The actions of patrons at fetes have one DJ expressing concern for the ramifications on the future of Carnival events, not just in the Caribbean but in foreign countries where the culture is not mainstream.
Private Ryan’s concern was registered after the release of a video in which a young woman clad in a bikini is seen diving into a sea of people from a music truck during a J’ouvert party in Miami. Ryan, who was the DJ on that truck at the time, said in an Instagram post that the incident got him thinking. “Recently with “Nasty Up”, “Run With it” and the rise of music that encourages us to "mash up everything" are we setting ourselves up for something that could inevitably cripple us and our culture,” he asked.
“What if venues start to deem us unruly because we destroy venues, tear up plants, rip down banners, remove trash cans etc. What if the person who dives or tries to outdo this moment gets fatally injured? What if on @ubersocacruise they mash up essential things on the cruise ship and they don't want "our kind" back because we are too wild. I know for a fact in Trinidad Fire Services would have shut this down immediately,” said Ryan.
He said he knew that many clubs and promoters that have discriminated against other genres of music such as dancehall and rock for the wildness and made it hard for them to get proper venues. Private Ryan’s questions stirred a debate among many people, some who disagreed with any call for censorship and called for West Indians to own their own venues to have events, while others urged DJs and mic-men to be more responsible in how they encourage people to behave.
But is it the responsibility of DJs and their hype men? On whose shoulders does the responsibility lie when it comes to wild behaviour at Carnival events?
In an essay titled Soca Music: Enjoy responsibly, published on Medium, Jeanelle Frontin, former General Manager of MusicTT, said she was hit in the face when someone flung a cup during Private Ryan’s Soca Brainwash at this year’s Miami Carnival.
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story credits: Laura Dowrich-Phillips