Among Machel Montano’s laundry list of releases for this year’s Trinidad Carnival, “Ministry of Road” was definitely the most popular. With Power Soca Monarch and Road March titles up for grabs, that’s where everyone’s attention tends to gravitate at Carnival time. And Machel is good at it—he seems to have a not-so-secret recipe for jump-and-wave soca that never fails. But when you listen to “Happiest Man Alive” and take in the production and the songwriting, there was no better representation of the Trinidadian people and Carnival culture as a whole. When I hear that song, I identify with it as a West Indian and a Trinidadian. It’s an anthem and a declaration.
Soca gets better every year and 2014 was no different—it was an amazing year for collaboration and experimentation with other sounds and cultures. “H.M.A,” which was written with St. Vincent’s Skinny Fabulous and produced by fellow Vincy, Kubiyashi, encompassed that all, showing that nothing is more powerful than celebrating an identity and culture (while also embracing EDM elements, interloping it with the percussions and drums of our rhythm sections). “H.M.A” is progressive soca at its best and, if one song represented this year, it’s this one. —Marcha M. Johnson