Bouyon Bass: Asa Bantan Is Dominica’s “One Man” Hit Wave

November 3, 2012

Words by Jesse Serwer
Photo by Martei Korley

Asa Bantan Photo by Martei Korley

The dominant sound in Dominica today, bouyon was developed in the 1980s by bands like WCK, combining elements of kadans (or cadence-lypso), the folk style jing-ping and a quick-paced electronic drum pattern similar to soca. More recently, deejays with raggamuffin-style vocals inspired by dancehall have moved to the fore, updating the sound for the youth.

Along with groups like Triple K, Asa Bantanโ€”thatโ€™s Bantan, not Bantonโ€”is one of the main acts currently carrying the torch for bouyon on the Nature Island. A product of Grand Bay, Dominicaโ€™s โ€œSoutโ€™ Cityโ€ and cultural capital, Asa scored the biggest reaction of last weekโ€™s World Creole Music Festival, (look out for our full report and photo series on that soon) literally working the crowd into a froth during the self-explanatory โ€œWet Fete.โ€

The most ubiquitous song in Dominica at present, โ€œOne Manโ€ is hitting in neighboring islands like Martinique and St. Lucia as well, and is poised to carry Bantanโ€™s name into the broader Caribbean and beyond. Matching a bouyon beat with the bleeps and blips from Chris Brownโ€™s Diplo/Afrojack-produced โ€œLook at Me Now,โ€ย โ€œOne Manโ€ offers a simple message for the ladies ofย โ€œDAโ€ (and alsoย โ€œSM,โ€ as in Saint-Martin): โ€œStop fight over one man! Stop make noise over one man! How you look good, and you cyan get a next man?โ€

LargeUp recently caught up with Asa on his home turf, on Lallay in Grand Bay, where we took the above photo outside the home of calypsonian Cyrille Henderson, at what’s known as Unity Block. LargeUp TV webisode soon come!