Toppa Top 20: LargeUp’s Artists to Watch For 2016

Ricardo Drue (Antigua)

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Ricardo Drue is on the fast track to worldwide stardom. In a few short years, the reigning Antiguan Soca Monarch has become a brand ambassador for Digicel, had June 21st, 2014 proclaimed “Ricardo Drue Day” by the city of Boston, and became the first of his countrymen to place in Trinidad and Tobago’s International Soca Monarch competition with his breakthrough track, “Vagabond.” Recently, “All About That Bass” singer and international pop star Meghan Trainor tweeted that she couldn’t get his track “BET” out of her head. With everything pointing to more success for Ricardo in 2016,  how could we not have him on this list? –Tishanna Williams

How would you describe your sound?

A mix of old-school soca and lavweystickfight call-and-response chants — combined with modern lyrics and melody. Funny enough, I didn’t understand what lavwey was at first. It was actually Nadia Batson that explained it. She told me, “When it hits you, it supposed to make you want to dance immediately…” and she did a little dance. That was the vibe I wanted for my music, so we connected with some great producers and writers to create that sound.

Tell us a little bit about the place you come from…

I was born in Antigua with some of the best beaches in the world — you should visit — and about two months later I was taken to the land of oil and music, Trinidad. I lived in South Trinidad in a place called Green Acres, then we moved to another community known as Coceyea. After that we moved to Florida. I wasn’t very happy about that at first, because I missed Trini. but I came back years later and then went to Antigua.

Tell us about the moment where you knew you had broken through as an artist...

December 27th, 2014. I performed at a show called “Soca or Die” for Dr. Jay in Toronto. The entire performance felt surreal. I was moving at normal pace, but the crowd felt like it was moving in slow motion. I could see and feel the energy of every individual in that moment. I knew I was onto something.

What were your highlights in 2015?

I traveled and saw places I never thought I would see. I performed in Belize to people who did not know English, but knew my songs word for word. Also, placing in Trinidad and Tobago International Soca Monarch competition was big for me.

What should we expect to see and hear from you in 2016?

We have a record called “Professional” geared towards the professional drinker, and “BET,” which we will be performing for the ISM finals. #Betmehnah. We also have a track with Blaxx called “Day Ones” which focuses on those friends that have been down for you from day one.

What artists are you watching in 2016?

When I am working I have blinders on, so I tend not to focus on anyone else, but if I had to say who was the most impressive this year, I would say Voice. He’s written for some pretty popular artistes in the past, but he himself has been knocking on the door for a while, and this year he has been given the opportunity. I am very pleased and happy for him.