Monthly Archives: August 2012
These articles about Machel have really been about the magnitude and state of our music industry. I’ve identified dozens of Trinis who’ve had Gold, Platinum, and award-winning careers internationally from the 40s to the present. Calypso’s international impact culminated in 1956 with Belafonte’s platinum album ‘Calypso’. Since then most Trinis having global impact have worked in mainstream forms like Pop, R&B, and Hip-Hop- like Haddaway. However in the last 17 years artistes like Fireball, Sugar Daddy, and KMC have crossed-over with Soca.
I identified a generational pattern of T&T’s greatest indigenous-music performers becoming diaspora massive- but unable to make mainstream leaps: Sparrow with a record deal brokered by Belafonte couldn’t; 10 years later Shorty retreated to the bush on the brink; 10 years later Rudder signed with a label who couldn’t do it; 10 years later Machel failed with his first deal… We must learn from this. We’re now 10 years from Machel’s first failure- he’s trying again…
Machel’s fourth Age was after Xtatic’s early 90s success in re-engineering the dying sound of Soca. Machel worked in Engine Room studios in Maraval with genius sound-engineer Robin Foster where he was around luminaries like Eddy Grant, Rudder, Shadow… He was pushed to earn his sound-recording degree in Ohio in 1993 which added to his arsenal. In 1995 he won his first deal with Delicious Vinyl. He had the minor dance hit ‘Come Dig It’, touring outside the Caribbean circuit for the first time- working on a record. It didn’t work. His first international failure was educational- his sound was still immature… Read the rest of this entry
In previous articles I revealed genius Trini musical talents who’ve had global impact- to give context to Machel. Let’s examine Machel now:
In 2003 I wrote: “Machel is the pure distillation of the phallic power in Trinbago music. There’s a direct line between him, Sparrow, the original Shorty, and a whole band of cocksmen- musical and village-ram alike. He’s that in presence as performer as he’s it as songwriter. His music is shot-through with that pure life-force that at times even he does not know how to control. He’s been the channel the music has chosen- just as it chose Super Blue years before… He’s the one transforming the festival and thus the country and taking a generation of celebrants along with him…” I stand by those words.
We need to understand persons who embody our collective self- like Kitchener, Shorty, Rudder… For more than a decade Machel projected himself into the centre of our Carnival. He’s matched that ambition with material and performing skills that place him there on merit. He provides the premium soundtrack for the 300 Trini-style carnivals and is their biggest draw. All our festival musicians aspire to this- he’s done it. He’s our biggest home-grown talent at present, raking in tens of millions annually- far outstripping his closest Soca peers. His presence is so seismic that at least 2 Carnivals in the last 15 suffered economically and otherwise by his absence. He draws crowds up to 45,000 locally and up to 15,000 in the metropolitan diaspora. However the global mainstream career he’s dreamed of has eluded him. Thus far… Apart from interesting forays I will map, Machel remains largely unknown outside of Caribbean diaspora circuits- although buzzes exist on fringes of metropolitan markets. Read the rest of this entry