Written by: David Lawrence
In the easy-going relaxed atmosphere of the Caribbean islands where the fast pace of soca, zouk, salsa, meringue, dancehall, and reggaeton dominate the musical landscape, some artistes with vocal dexterity and a penchant for writing and singing beautiful melodious music have opted for the slower-paced music of Pop and R&B. These artists have the perseverance, talent, and belief in their ability to compete and succeed on the world stage. Their music is similar to their North American counterparts in quality and tone but often lacks the exposure and marketing for them to break through onto the global market.
The region has however produced artistes who have topped the US music charts; Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Heather Headley, and SAINt JHN come to mind, but their music usually lacks the feel or reference of the islands. On the other hand, there are artists residing in the Caribbean whose musical preferences are also Pop, R&B, or Hip Hop but elements of their Caribbean heritage can often be heard in the beat or lyrics of their music; theirs can be referred to as Island Pop, R&B and Hip hop.
A few of these artistes we will mention briefly below and include a wider list of such music in our Spotify playlist.
Out of Trinidad and Tobago rising pop artist Will the Wolf is a genuine pop artist. His recent release “18 Days” with fellow Trinbagonian Issa has created quite a stir both locally and regionally. His other popular songs are “Bang”, and “I’m Thinking You Should”.
Annalie Prime is another Trinbagonian artist with a uniquely soulful, and passionate voice. She is a gifted songwriter and pens thought-provoking lyrics with harmonic and stimulating melodies. Her style of music can be considered a combination of Calypso, Neo Soul, Hip Hop, Reggae, and Folk. Her big songs are “Set Your Sights”, “Moko’, and “In My Head”
From the land of many rivers, former Miss Guyana and singing sensation Poonam Singh is a mega star in Guyana with an angelic voice and unique story-telling ability. She has released a series of authentic pop songs over the years that have been well received in her homeland. Her big hits are “Happy Place”, “Forever Alone”, and “Guyana”.
From the spice island of Grenada, Jeverson Ramirez a soulful funky singer whose vocal prowess is well known and respected in his homeland where he has performed in many events has taken his craft to another level by going to Nashville Tennessee to study songwriting. His new song “Something In The Water” is a perfect representation of Island pop and R&B. Jeverson hit songs so far are “Move”, “Let me Know”, and “Pray For Your Son”.
Also hailing from the spice island is Grenada’s songbird Sabrina Francis. Her voice is as gentle and soothing as the island breeze and her musical style is a unique mixture of soulful R&B and pop infused with African percussion. Her big songs to date are “Cocoa Tea”, “Million Moments”, “Caged Butterfly”, and “I Feel”.
From the land of the flying fish, Jaicko Lawrence has proven that he has an incredible talent for making contemporary pop music. His debut single “Oh Yeah” reached #2 on the Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles in the US. He has been nominated for six Barbados Music Awards, including Best Pop Single, Pop/R&B Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, and Album of the Year in 2008. His other popular releases are “Two Piece”, and “Future”
Another aspiring Bajan R&B and Pop artist is Krisirie. Her music is described in her Bio as a “refreshing blend of R&B entrances multitudes with its Island airiness, sweetly sensual vocals, uplifting vibes, and smoldering grooves”. She has released hits like “Long Time Love”, and “For You”.
Now let us turn our attention to Island Hip hop.
Though many aspiring rappers in the Caribbean have come to quickly realize that they have a better chance of monetary success and fame performing the local version of dancehall like ‘Trinidad’ that Hip hop, it’s no surprise there are not many authentic Hip hop artists in the Caribbean. But a few are still more drawn to this genre than any other.
Island Levvy from Barbados is one such rapper. He is considered to be in a league of his own in the Caribbean and unapologetically delivers “urban topic.” in Barbadian dialect, HaHa! (All About The Paper) featuring Brutal Crankstar is his biggest hit so far; others are “Dangerous‘, and “Big Shot”(Stay Down)
Singer and Rapper Yung Pert a Grenadian native who cannot be tied to any one genre has a love for singing rap. His breakout release titled, “Far Away” created a buzz around the artist’, and in July 2020 he released his biggest single, “Sweetie“. Other noticeable tracks are “All My Love”, and Zeus
Similar to Yung Pert is Thoni from Guyana whose synthesizer-laced background music is punctuated by his smooth soulful rap in the foreground as he effortlessly swings from R&B to rap in his songs. “Make It Rain,” “Nobody”, “Off My Mind” are some of his noticeable tracks.
This concludes our introduction to modern Island Pop, R&B, and Hip hop where we took a look at those who dare to compete in music’s biggest arenas. Many more similar songs can be found in the playlist below. Let us make a conscious effort to support these Caribbean artists as they add variety to the musical landscape of the Caribbean.
Hashtags #WillTheWolf #AnnaliePrime #PoonamSingh #JeversonRamirez #SabrinaFrancis #JaickoLawrence #Krisirie #IslandLevvy #YungPert #Thoni #TrinidadAndTobago #Guyana #Barbados #Grenada
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