Soca – the fast-paced descendant of calypso – has been at the forefront of Caribbean music in recent years, and the genre has successfully embraced expressions from other styles outside the West Indies, especially electronic dance music, hip-hop and R&B.
And one of soca’s most acknowledged artists is the robust and rapid-firing lyricist Bunji Garlin, aka the Viking of Soca. He has been making dancehall-fused soca for the past 15 years and last year he scored a huge hit with the infectious Differentology, a song originally put out in late 2012 in anticipation of the 2013 carnival in Trinidad and Tobago. With that track he won a 2013 Soul Train Award for Best International Performance, and a Battle of the Beats competition on influential New York hip-hop station Hot 97.
His new album bears the same title as his smash hit, and on album opener Red Light District he sets the tone immediately – “Somebody give me a rhythm to activate the waistline on the feminine gender, Now”. From there on it’s more or less a party from start to finish, even though the set also allows for a few darker moments, for example the anthemic hip-hop scorcher West Indian Jungle and the electric A$AP Ferg combination Truck On Di Road (remix).
Differentology also manages to bridge old and new sonic identities thanks to the vintage-flavored All O’Dem and a version of Trinidadian calypsonian Maestro’s Savage, originally released in 1976.
On the uplifting Over the Hills Bunji Garlin sings “I wanna see this music rise, see soca fly high with the eagles in the skies… I wanna see my music over the hills”. And with this album Bunji Garlin takes soca over the hills, out of the West Indies and into clubs all over the world. With its percussion-driven riddims, Bunji Garlin’s eclectic vocal style and its lively and euphoric sound, Differentology is dance music at its best.