Tag Archives: Bunji Garlin

Bunji Garlin’s bona fide party-starter

BUNJI-GARLIN-DIFFERENT109FSoca – 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.

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Bunji Garlin’s new album unveiled

unnamedSoca superstar Bunji Garlin has put out hard-hitting hits for the past 15 years, but it wasn’t until last year he had a smashing one.

Differentology was produced by Sheriff Mumbles and originally released in 2012, and one year later it transcended the Caribbean carnival circuit. The track also received critical praise across the board – from 2013 Soul Train Award to MTV Iggy Song of the Year. It was also featured in ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy show and received airplay at NBA arenas and NYC’s Golden Gloves Boxing tournament. Major Lazer’s electronic remix also fused Differentology in front of a new audience, an audience that had probably never heard of soca music.

Now comes an album of the same name, and it may have the same universal appeal as the title track. According to a press release the 13 track album is a fusion of soca, dancehall and hip-hop.

“I think a lot of great opportunities for soca to conquer new territories are going to come from this album,” says Bunji Garlin in a press release, and adds:

“So I couldn’t ask for a better situation to be in.”

The album drops on August 12, but already today it’s available for exclusive streaming via NPR First Listen. Check the album in its glorious entirety here.

Bunji Garlin, aka the Viking of Soca, is known for his energetic  stage shows and vocal acrobatics. Born in Trinidad & Tobago he is international soca royalty and has won the Ragga Soca Monarch in 2000 and 2001. Throughout his long career he has released ten albums.

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A decadent crossover album from Gyptian

Gyptian-Sex-Love-and-Reggae-Artwork-2013A common expression is never judge a book by its cover, but that is exactly what you can do with Gyptian’s fourth album Sex, Love & Reggae. It sounds like it looks. Sensual, boastful and frisky.

It debuted at #1 on the Billboard Reggae Album chart and at #24 on the Billboard Heatseekers/Top New Artist Album chart. Not that hard to understand since the album is a logical follow-up to his 2010 album Hold You, a set that featured his monster smash single of the same name, a tune that ruled the Caribbean airwaves in the same year and led to a remix with no other than Nicki Minaj.

Sex, Love & Reggae is a contemporary pop and R&B album with island influences – reggae, dancehall and soca. And it features several guest performences, including appearances by Angela Hunte, Bunji Garlin, Estelle, Melanie Fiona and Kes the Band. Included are also two covers – Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors and Gregory Isaac’s My Number One. Be Alright is not a cover, but it owes more than just a little to Maroon 5’s chart topping single She Will Be Loved.

The album shows a Gyptian that has changed a lot since his breakthrough hit Serious Times. The Rasta influences have given way to bling-bling, sex jams and bass boosted beats signed and sealed by co-producer Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis, known for cranking out hits for superstars such as Mary J. Blige, Lupe Fiasco and the Fugees.

The 17-track set features an eclectic mix of songs – from party starters like Non Stop, Wet Fete and the title track to affectionate bedroom ballads such as Wine Slow and Majestic Love. Gyptian is however at his very best when he showcases his desperate side in the militant I’m So and the haunting Good Girls.

An exciting and diverse set of crossover songs that will probably not go well will reggae purists.

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Kägelbanan fredagen den 3 april – “Chopin, Lady GaGa, Bengtzing”

I fredags hade jag förmånen att spela skivor på en läkarfest på Kägelbanan i Stockholm. I vanlig ordning plockade jag med mig högar med dansant reggae i många olika former – från skafavoriten Red, red wine med Tony Tribe till dancehallfavoriten Jail med Busy Signal och socadängan Doctor med Bunji Garlin & Tizzy.

För säkerhets skull hade jag även plockat med mig ovanligt många disco- och soullåtar. Som grädde på moset fyllde jag även väskan med ett antal “fulreggae”-hits som Here comes the hotstepper med Ini Kamoze, Love is wicked med Brick & Lace samt In the summertime med Shaggy. Bäddat för fest med andra ord. Trodde jag.

Läkare är kräsna med musiken visade det sig. Under kvällen kom omkring tio personer fram och ville önska låtar av lite varierad karaktär. Det gemensamma var nog att de ville höra låtar de kände igen, som helst inte var i baktakt och med ett tempo på typ 180 bpm. Ingen enkel kombination för en reggaefantast med andra ord.

I vanliga fall hade jag gärna uppfyllt önskan om jag kunde. I de här fallen var jag både glad och lättad över att jag inte hade möjligheten. I så fall hade jag nämligen varit tvungen att sälja mig till schlager, eurodisco och klassisk musik. Ja, du läste rätt – klassisk musik. Det var nämligen en kille som ville att jag skulle bryta av med något ovanligt, och vad passar bäst då om inte just Chopin.

PG11073Den polske kompositören Frédéric Chopin kan tyckas vara ett ganska märkligt önskemål, men faktum är att han tydligen skapat ett antal ganska dansanta mazurka-kompositioner. Så kanske är jag helt fel ute? Hur som helst får man bara den typen av önskemål på en läkarfest, som en kompis uttryckte det när jag beklagade mig över de märkliga önskemålen.

Jag spelar gärna musik människor känner igen. Så länge det är bra musik. Det behöver inte vara reggae, disco, soca eller soul. Jag skulle inte spela skivor som Linda Bengtzing meets Lee Perry at Black Ark, Chopin inna rub a dub style eller Lady GaGa vs. King Tubby in a dub conference bara för att det är reggae. Någonstans måste jag dra gränsen. Och den gränsen går vid att det svänger.


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