Soca Music and Moral Decadence
By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
March 25, 2008
As quiet as it is kept, Trinbagonians seem to be in long-term denial that there is a direct correlation between Soca music and moral decadence in TnT. As of this writing, the evidence is very clear and convincing that immorality and public sexual vulgarity have surpassed the nadir of their bottomless pit.
Indeed, there was a time "back-in-the-day" when "smut" in Calypso was respectful of and to women; this genre of popular music not only contained a serious, message-oriented story-line but any sexual behavior/activity was also implicit and left to the imagination.
Today, however, in the era of Soca music, sexuality and rudeness, albeit "smut", are in your face, raw, explicit and up close and personal. Nothing is left to the imagination, period.
From a comparative point of view, when Sparrow sang "Mae Mae", one could have visualized/imagined Sparrow picking up this respected "girl" named Mae Mae at the railway in Port-of-Spain and both of them took a taxi "straight to Claxton Bay."
The story-line allowed one's imagination to visualize both of them laying on the carpet and then Mae Mae started "catching fits". One could also imagine the nature of the sexual act in which they were engaged when in the heat of passion Mae Mae groans and moans: "yuh making meh feel so weak, stop Sparrow stop---stop dat."
At the end of their sexual escapade, Sparrow deduces that when "ah man finish, I think is foolish to play lickrish"; ergo, as the true gentleman that he is, Sparrow humbly and respectfully suggests that Mae Mae should take the remainder of the rum and give it to her "man" when she got home.
This was civilized, respectful, moralized and enjoyable "smut" in Calypso at its zenith. The lyrics did not demean, devalue nor dehumanize Mae Mae; she was treated as a lady even though she was "picked up" by Sparrow. She was not treated like a piece of meat sans human dignity and moral value/worth.
In a similar vein, when Kitchener sang "Sugar Bum Bum", the lady involved named Audrey, was treated with utmost respect and human dignity. There was a clear story-line in the Calypso in terms of the sexual act in which they were engaged. One could have imagined Kitchener's enjoyment of Audrey's "sugar" to the extent that it made him "feel ten feet tall."
The lyrics of "Sugar Bum Bum" did not demean, devalue nor dehumanize Audrey; she was also treated as a lady. In addition, the lyrics did not conjure up in the mind of male Trinbagonians that they should wine behind the bum bum of the first woman that passes by. Men kept their "rocket" in their "pocket" after listening to the tune; it was morally enjoyable.
The significant point that is being made here is that the lyrics of these two Calypsos did not precipitate any scintilla of publicly explicit, lewd, sexually immoral, vulgar, pelvic gyrating behavior by and from Trinbagonians. On the contrary, Trinbagonians basically listened to and totally enjoyed these Calypsos rather than act out their implicit, hidden sexual message. These Calypsos had a moral modem of their own.
Sadly and ironically, the same moral tone does not hold true in the case of Soca music. The fact of the matter is that Soca music and its lyrics precipitate and bring out the publicly lewd, explicit, sexually immoral, vulgar, pelvic gyrating behavior by and from Trinbagonians. Nothing is left to the imagination.
The fact of the matter is that a typical Soca song has absolutely no serious story-line but is replete with sexually inspired/driven/laden reactions. In essence, the behavioral reactions to Soca music and its lyrics represent the simulation of public sexual intercourse in front and behind by adults with clothes on.
More specifically, when one listens to Soca music today, sexual, pelvic gyration and winin' are automatic, conscious reactions. Lyrics and story-line become totally irrelevant.
Soca music today is such that instead of presenting a descent, respectful skit to render a song, the Soca artiste comes on stage armed with a "wuka man"---"every body wukin, wukin." Needless to say, every "hip" Trinbagonian, including the average young child, already knows the real sexual translation of the word "wukin." Who is fooling whom, my fellow Trinbagonians? Let's get real.
What's the message these adult Soca artistes are giving to our young, impressionable and ever attentive children?
At this crucial immoral juncture, this writer totally refuses to give any copy to the annual tasteless, disgusting, denigrating, demeaning, disgraceful and induced-vomiting but sold-out "international Soca monarch competition"--- public pornography by adults with clothes on.
The poignant question that comes to the fore is: Does Soca music represent any modicum of progress in TnT's musical repertoire? This question must be couched within the context of human behavior and values. It must also be clearly understood that music not only represents a people's module for entertainment but, most importantly, it also reflects their values and moral codes/standards of behavior in every sphere.
The fact of the matter is that the physical reaction to Soca music is nothing more than public porn performed by adults with clothes on, period. It is at this immoral juncture that moral decadence in TnT rears its ugly head.
Furthermore, this moral decadence is also omnipresent on the TV screen on Carnival days---public pornography by adults with skimpy clothes on. And, of course, in typical Trini denial syndrome, the raison d'etre for such public immoral pornographic behavior is that Trinbagonians want "to free up". Give me a break, please!
The fact of the matter is that in the heydays of Calypsos, children were advised/admonished to "go to school and learn well"; however, in today's Soca music hype, apparently, children are conditioned to go to school and learn how to wine well.
The stark reality is that children observe, admire and adore adults who publicly gyrate and wine to Soca music in $3,000 plus bikini costumes on Carnival days "as if they never christen"; then, these children return the favor and act out, duplicate and xerox this same adult, public lewd, sexual, pelvic gyrating, immoral, vulgar behavior in their school uniforms at school via cell phone pornography at $5 a frame.
"Monkey see, monkey do." What's the problem? Soca music made the adults and young school children do it, period.
However, the scary scenario is that all this Soca music-inspired/driven immoral madness and "wukin" are taking place amidst the reality that 60 per cent of newly infected HIV/AIDS cases are among Trinbagonians 15-34 years of age. "This is madness, total madness."
The truism is that on the one hand, no sane Trinbagonian would dare deny that Soca music focuses on, emphasizes and zeroes in on the use of a woman's "second brain" with all its multi-dimensional, multi-faceted and multi-circular oceanic attributes and skills while on the other hand, it not only diminishes but also relates the use of a woman's "first brain" as an exercise in moral futility to the nth degree.
In the final analysis, it seems logical to conclude that in its present lyrical format/structure, Soca music is the overt transmission belt and/or medium of exchange for the ubiquitous existence and prevalence of sexual promiscuity and moral decadence in TnT.
The responsibility now rests squarely and directly on the shoulders of all Soca artistes to turn this immoral, decadent values clock back in a moral direction---young people, albeit children, are looking, watching and imitating. Show them that you care, please.
Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").
Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour
and Co-operative Studies and University of the West Indies.
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