Jammin Still: Listen To Our 2017 Trinidad Carnival Playlist on Apple Music

Words by Jesse Serwer, Kamara Williams and Tishanna Williams
Photo by Colin Williams

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In just a few hours, a few hundred thousand revelers will take to the streets of Port of Spain and get to jamming, wining, pumping and jooking their way through Trinidad Carnival 2017. The celebration culminates a season full of competition, costume prep, fetes and, of course, new soca music, which has steadily streamed from T&T’s studios since the fall. With another International Soca Monach competition in the books and the last parties winding down, we’ve taken stock of the season’s top tunes. Get ready for the road with our “Jammin Still” playlist featuring this year’s best modern calypso jams, groovy soca and power anthems. Listen now on Apple Music.

Calypso Rose feat. Manu Chao and Machel Montano – Leave Me Alone (Remix)
Whatever the formula is for keeping current, Calypso Rose has it. The 76-year-old’s newest album Far From Home recently won World Album of the Year at France’s equivalent to the Grammys, and a remixed version of lead single “Leave Me Alone” featuring Machel Montano has become a big hit at home in Trinidad for Carnival 2017. The ladies especially are singing “Leave Me Alone” proudly for all the men who don’t observe our Rules of D Road: The Dos and Don’ts of Wining. It’s even spawned a slogan/movement/T shirt line locally, standing up against gender-based violence. — Tishanna Williams

Ultimate Rejects feat. MX Prime – Full Extreme (We Jammin Still)
MX Prime has been vibes since he started in the 90’s but this track is this year’s Trinidadian anthem. Every other song is just playing catch up. When you decide not to enter the Road March competition, and the people take to social media to protest until you have no choice, you know you have a hit. — Tishanna Williams

Machel Montano x Bunji Garlin – Buss Head
Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin flattened the country when they connected on “Buss Head,” putting aside years of perceived differences between Trinidad’s top soca stars. The song, which was co-written by Keegan Taylor (who we highlighted a few years ago in our article BOIS! Reviving Trinidad’s Stickfighting Traditions) takes inspiration from Trinidad’s ancient cultural fighting style, raising the spirit of the warrior in each listener. “Buss Head” definitely has the all-round seal of approval. – Tishanna Williams

Kes and Kernal Roberts – Shake
This year’s Trinidad soca has been all about a return to the roots, with the sounds of iron, brass bands and steelpan coloring many of the season’s top tunes. Kes and Kernal Roberts combine all of these elements in “Shake,” a modern calypso anthem with a vintage swing that recalls the Carnivals of yesteryear. — Jesse Serwer

Linky First – Rock and Come In
This track from Jamaica made its way into Trini Carnival parties in a major way. It’s got just the right amount of groovy soca and dancehall to satisfy fans of both. Did we mention it is on something called the ‘Liming Riddim’? How much more Trini can you get? – Tishanna Williams

Machel Montano – Fast Wine
You know Double M had to give us one for the ladies to close their eyes and roll their waist to. “Fast Wine” is a slow groove that the ladies love with little pockets of arrangement to make you bruk out. – Tishanna Williams

Machel Montano – Waves
Machel Montano, a man who knows how to navigate his way around different styles of soca music, brought a different vibe to Carnival with this release. The track produced by System32 has a vibe and ease that makes you feel freer than beach breeze —something we all crave during this season. It’s soothing, yet packed with an undeniable energy that belongs on every Carnival playlist. – Kamara Williams

Kes feat. Nailah Blackman – Workout
Nailah Blackman, the granddaughter of soca’s father Lord Shorty, makes magic with Kes on her own Carnival debut, grabbing our attention with her vocals on the track. This song is everywhere and, whether you into grooving or grinding low, you need a little “Workout.” — Tishanna Williams

Kes – Incredible
Kes has proven himself over and over again, but this year he took us to yet another level with Incredible. This track that undeniable Carnival euphoric quality that makes you forget about the world for as long as it plays. As a major contribution to 2017 soca, it’s going to be massive on the road come Carnival Monday and Tuesday. We can wait to jam and jam! – Kamara Williams

Destra – Closer
This season the Queen of Bacchanal showed us her softer side with the melodious tune Closer. The track all about spreading love and appreciating the people that are special to us, is like a calming soca lullaby you never want to stop singing. With the current events happening in the world, Closer stands as a good reminder of what is really important in life without being too serious. Written by Garcia and produced by Drew Thoven, this sweet tune is a great departure from the multitudes of upbeat songs synonymous with Carnival.  Kamara Williams

GBM Nutron – Bacchanal
The old meets the new on songwriter-turned-artist GBM Nutron’s follow up to his breakout hit 2016 hit “Scene.” “Bacchanal” takes the structure of modern groovy soca and infuses it with classic steelpan and brass sounds, while lyrically touching on the state of male/female relations at Carnival, to form one one of the season’s most addictive tracks. – Jesse Serwer

Machel Montano – Lip Service
Montano came into 2017 on a high note with “Lip Service,” his first release for the Carnival season. As one of the top bangers on the Lip Service riddim, this track became an instant favorite among soca stans who could not stop sharing it on social media quoting the lyrics “ah tired of di lip service.” The sultry melody and beat (composed by Teddon Mark, Montano and Kasey Phillips) grabs you right from the start. After that rhythm comes in, there’s really “no long talk when we come to wine.” – Kamara Williams

Voice – Far From Finished
Voice has a knack for creating those tunes that quickly become anthems. Far From Finished definitely embodies that quality, as a song anyone can relate to. After the life-changing year he has had post winning the Soca Monarch title with his monster track Cheers To Life, Far From Finished is a fitting follow-up. This tune, written by Voice and produced by Fisherman Project, has endured the entire Carnival season, confirming Voice’s outstanding songwriting talents. The message, melody, and vocals in this song all come together to create a perfect synergy of positive vibes that is bound to lift your mood. We know it is only going to get better and better for Voice from here on out.- Kamara Williams

Sekon Sta — Kings and Queens
LargeUp 2016 Artist to Watch 2016 Sekon Sta is a fast rising star and Kings and Queens has us not only pumping for the Carnival but feeling like a celeb while doing it! – Tishanna Williams

Kerwin Du Bois – Dis iz D Band
Groovy soca don Kerwin Du Bois delivers an anthem for all of the mas bands getting ready to take over the road in Dis iz D Band.” This one didn’t make that much noise in the run-up to Carnival, but seems especially geared for big play once the bands touch the road on Carnival Monday. – Jesse Serwer

Orlando Octave – Single
‘Plenty gyal ha man and acting like dey single’ could be the cry of many men around Carnival time, when the beauties of T&T all seem to be out showing what they have to offer. Put it on a hot groovy soca beat, and you have a 2017 Carnival standard. – Tishanna Williams

Swappi – Ana
Afro Soca was a big thing at last year’s Carnival and Swappi keeps the Afrobeats x Groovy Soca fusion vibes going this year with “Ana,” a catchy tune with some clever wordplay and passionate delivery.  – Jesse Serwer

Jus Now feat. Chalmer John – Get On
Up-and-coming Trinidadian vocalist Chalmer John murders the Get On riddim, one of our favorite instrumentals from this year’s soca season. A Barbados-style bashment soca beat, Get On also boasts strong performances from Mr. Killa and Fay-Ann Lyons, but the previously unknown John definitely took the rhythm — remember that name at next year’s Carnival is all we’re saying. — Jesse Serwer

Travis World Feat. Salty – Free Up Yourself
Radio personality Salty, star of last year’s runaway hit “Gyal Meets Brass,” connects with newcomer Travis World on “Free Up Yourself,” an uptempo groovy soca track with a futuristic bounce. This was one of the first songs that came out for this year’s soca season, and one of the most unique. – Jesse Serwer

Uncle Ellis – I Doh Mind
The Gully Bop of Trinidad, “Uncle” Ellis Reid is a former vagrant and drug addict who shot to local fame after he was discovered dancing outside of Port of Spain’s famed KFC. His debut single “I Doh Mind” is a Power Soca/Jab Jab anthem with instructional dance lyrics (“Everybody drift!”, “Hol a gyal and jook-jook-jook-jook-jook”) and a message of tolerance. — Jesse Serwer

Machel Montano – Your Time Now

Trinidad’s king of power soca, Machel Montano pulls some energy from Grenada and Dominica with the Jab Jab and Bouyon-infused anthem “Your Time Now.” This buoyant track should be a contender for this year’s Road March, if Machel doesn’t beat it out with his other 2017 power tune, “Beat It.” — Jesse Serwer

Terri Lyons – I Am Lion
It’s been a Fay-Ann game for years but Terri Lyons has struck out so hard this year that those who were watching her slight still suffering from whiplash. Not only is it one of the few power socas for the year, but it’s being sung by a bonafide female soca artiste. FINALLY! – Tishanna Williams