Hear tune! My name is Kofi Jones and I am a Socaholic. I am not ashamed. I love a piece of soca. In any fete, bar, restaurant or bank line, I’m just waiting until I can hear Lil Rick telling girls what to do with their “bumpas” or continue to study Edwin’s fascination with “the road.” My wedding vows will most likely be soca lyrics (wife pending). It is by far the happiest genre of music ever created. I’ve heard sad techno songs. The saddest thing to happen in soca history is when Gorg lost his Jordans to his woman in the separation. (RIP Jordans, 2014).
I found it fitting that for my first list, I share my top 5 favorite soca songs. Note I said my top 5; this isn’t a definitive list. I’m sure we’ll disagree on maybe a couple of songs on my list, but these hold a special place in my life. I’m also going to be using a “1 song per artist” rule. I don’t need a list with 5 Machel songs. Now that’s all out of the way, onto the fun stuff.
#5. “Bonnie and Clyde” – Destra Garcia (2004)
“I’m you Queen. You’re my King. My darling.”
The Queen of Bacchanal takes the number five spot with this gem of a song; simply one of the most melodic power soca songs to date. Destra immediately grabs our attention with an infectious introduction – sampled from 80s classic “Take On Me” by A-ha – that’s just inviting the listener to sing along. Her voice literally puts a smile on my face whenever I hear this song. You can feel the love Destra has for her Clyde. Honestly, this song probably would’ve landed higher on my list if it wasn’t brought to my attention a couple of years ago that her Clyde is…a washcloth. A bandana. A rag. For years I was under the impression that this song is about Destra losing her man in a fete and wanting to be with him. I mean this was 2004. She couldn’t exactly open WhatsApp and be like “Babes I by the bar. Part you is?”
“We need each other like de water wetting the lawn.
There is no other boy
And yuh sure yuh can’t get no horn.”
Who can blame me for being mistaken with lyrics like that? Granted she also sang:
“Words cya describe how I dying tuh wave yuh.
I miss the way I used to fold and unfold yuh.”
So I’ll get my Steve Harvey on and apologize. I’m sorry Miss Garcia, there’s been a mistake. I misinterpreted your song.
#4. “Professional [pruh-fesh-un-nal]” – Ricardo Drue ft Jo Jo and the iDNATION (2015).
“Show me wa yuh drinking. Drink wa ya drinking. I’m a professional.”
I’ll admit it’s abnormal to have a song that’s a little over a year old in an all-time favorites list. But no soca list is complete without a drinking song. It’s just a staple in the culture. You don’t have to drink alcohol, mind you. You can bawl this song at the top of your lungs with a Red Frutee in your hand and feel the same way.
This song needed to make this list because of its simplicity. There’s nothing deep about this song and you don’t need to spend time thinking on it to understand. The entire song can be summarized with: “Ricardo likes drinking and he handles his liquor well. His significant other doesn’t like him drinking, however, but he will continue to drink.” That’s it. In addition to its simplicity, the background vocals really brought this song to life. We have Jo Jo and the iDNATION to thank for that. The hook sounds like a chorus of singers, or better yet, like a group of friends just liming and singing, with Ricardo at the lead. Anytime you see me in a party DJing and I play this song, look at me and I will be singing it.
#3. “Vibes Cyan Done” – Machel Montano (2012)
“Twenty man, a hundred woman. Oh gosh the vibes cyah done.”
Oh gosh; to pick a favorite Machel song. The monk himself. It’ll be easier for my mom to pick a favorite child (Let me help mom; it’s me). Machel just has too many hits.
I was going to pick his 2011 song “Bend Over”, but I don’t feel it as much anymore. I also like “You” from 2005, but I don’t want this list drowned with power soca. After staring at my Serato crates and a bit of soul searching, I came to a decision.
“It’s the way how I do mi ting yea.
I so from since ah small.
I’m tellin you baby,
It’s the feeling the music bring yea.
I can’t behave at all.”
This is one of my pre-game tunes! Whenever I’m getting ready to go to an event to work, I either put on my playlist or watch Bounty Killer’s 2006 birthday bash performance (more on the latter at a later date).
This song feels like my personal introduction; like I’m giving my audience an idea of what to expect when I press play on my left deck. When Slashsoundz land “the vibes cyah done.”
#2. “Hard Wine” – Lil Rick (1997)
“Good gawd dat kinda wine den.”
“Rude boys could wukup good.
Somebody say something bout hard wine?
Gal mek bumpa wine mek bumpa wine,
Mek bumpa wine mek bumpa wine.
OK, OK. Woman at front and man behind.
We gin wine wine wine wine.
Wine wine wine wine.
Wuk up gone big time.
New juks design.
Hard wine hard wine!”
Cheese on bread! Lil Rick aka The Chihuahua Business man aka Hypa Dawg aka Mr. Crop Over. Do I have to say anything to justify this entry? From the time you hear that tuk drum in the intro, everyone in a 100-yard radius of the bass speaker is scientifically proven to at least shake a leg. This song just militant den! Yes, “militant.” It was 1997. My brother says that was the word they used back then.
#1. “The Heart of a Man” – Zan ft Machel Montano (2006)
“It’s like the heart of a man we pumping.”
OK, I know I said I’m a socaholic, but I cannot wukup to save my life. I give a valiant effort and try with all my might. But my waistline always ends up looking like that of a white, middle aged, dad at the Plantation Garden Theatre. So naturally, one of my favorite tropes in soca music is “the instruction song.”
“Head, hands, legs, feet, spine, belly, bambam, waist. Every single creed and race.”
This 2006 single took the Caribbean by storm. The dance – as I understand, from word of mouth, was created at the “Brewster’s Road Crew” party (BRC) – is simple enough that anyone can do it. And I mean anyone. This dance is pretty much a next level “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”; you simply touch your head, hands, legs and feet, and end with a vigorous wukup (or a brave attempt at one). That’s not the only reason this song takes the top spot. The lyrics of this song scream unity. The kind you can only get with a soca song.
“Well if yuh would meet a stranger
Call him yuh brudda
Drink from the same glass
Sharing yuh liquor
Jumping up in a band
With one another
When de bacchanal end
Well you made a new friend.”
When you can feel a spark of friendship and find yourself forming a bond with a total stranger, doing extreme “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”, you know your song is a classic.