Machel: Take Soca Music Higher

By Patricia Meschino

NEW YORK (Billboard) - On a recent subway ride from Brooklyn to Manhattan, soca phenomenon Machel Montano was jolted from the anonymity he enjoys in some areas of New York when a female passenger shouted in a thick Trinidadian accent, "Machel Montano's on this train!," prompting many strap-hangers to hurriedly take out their camera phones.

That Montano, the most in-demand musical export from the oil-rich southern Caribbean republic of Trinidad and Tobago -- where soca originated -- can anonymously ride a train for several stops and then suddenly be swarmed by adoring fans reflects the dichotomy of his musical stature.

Soca, which provides the soundtrack for Caribbean carnivals, is the frenetically paced progeny of calypso. Created in Trinidad in the mid-'70s, soca has attained very limited success beyond Caribbean shores. Arrow's durable "Hot Hot Hot" continues to be licensed for new compilations, 20 years after Buster Poindexter's cover version rendered it an American pop hit. In 2000, the Baha Men transformed Anslem Douglas' Trinidad carnival hit "Who Let the Dogs Out" into an American sports stadium anthem, and four years later Rupee and Kevin Lyttle cracked the Billboard Hot 100 with their respective hits "Tempted to Touch" and "Turn Me On." Read More



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