The sound of bashment soca was inescapable in Barbados this summer. Whether coming out of the buses at the River Van Stand or inspiring dancers to wuk up at parties on the Blackwoods Screw Dock, this distinctly Bajan blend of soca and dancehall came into its own this year, taking over the fetes and the air waves during the Crop Over season. And songs like Marzville’s “Bang Bim” and Stiffy‘s “Tek Off Something” continue to steam across the Caribbean and the Diaspora as we head into this weekend’s Miami Carnival festivities.
After spending some time on the island, we knew we had to bottle this energy in mixtape form, so we reached out to Bajan DJ kingpin Jon Doe (aka Jon Deesy) for Vol. 5 of our monthly LargeUp Mix Series — and he murdered it in epic fashion.
Jon Doe’s Bashment Soca mixtape takes us from the sub-genre’s genesis via tracks like Lil Rick‘s “Go Down” and “Cranking Time” by Peter Ram, and on through this year’s essential tunes and riddims. You’ll hear all of the voices associated with this bubbling sub-genre — Stiffy, Marzville, Scrilla — plus bashment vibes from Barbados’ soca queen Alison Hinds, tracks and remixes featuring Jamaican music royalty like Beenie Man and I-Octane, and ’nuff dubplates and specials.
Listen and download here, and read on below for our interview with Jon Doe, and the full track listing.
LargeUp: Give us a little background on Jon Doe, and tell us all the places we can find you when we come to Barbados.
Jon Doe: Well, my foundation is solid. Raised in a music-loving family and started DJing when I was 11. I found it came naturally to me and stuck with it, through all kinds of drama, until I could turn it into a career that I’m passionate about. No chance of changing up now. When in Barbados, I’m live on Hott 95.3 FM every weekday morning, holding down the drive-time slot from 5 to 9am. Otherwise I’m all over the country almost every weekend, and at almost every major event on the island’s calendar.
LU: How would you describe your DJ style? What were your influences when you started as a DJ?
JD: I’m definitely a party-type DJ. Whatever it takes to move the crowd is what jumps out the crates, from reggae to hip-hop to EDM to soca. Whatever it takes. When I first started DJing, I was primarily influenced by the DJs of the era — locally, guys like Admiral Nelson and Anthony Lowhar, and overseas by guys like Red Alert and Kid Capri. I gravitated to their styles and developed my own style and flair for presentation of the music molded from a mixture of sources. I was also heavily into DJ competitions and competitive DJing, the DMC competitions were hot back in the ’90s. So my style was a marriage of a million different influences.
LU: So this mix is all about bashment soca. For those that don’t know, what is bashment soca? How is the bashment sound coming out of Barbados different from the other soca in the Caribbean right now?
JD: In its basic elements, it’s a pretty even marriage between soca and dancehall, with the sounds of each and the vocal styling of each artform playing an integral role in its development. And it’s growing. This year was the inaugural Bashment Soca Competition in Barbados, won by local popular artist Stiffy, who’s also heavily featured in the mix, and that in itself legitimized the art form for many, in the form of recognition on the soca scene in Barbados.
Bashment soca has got quite a fight over the years from soca purists who don’t see it as much more than a passing fad. It’s very different from what you would get from, lets say, a sweet soca song from most other islands. It’s highly energetic, very edgy, and youth-driven by design, developed out of a desire by primarily dancehall artists to want to make a contribution to soca. Hence the marriage of styles. But I’m also noticing the bashment soca style seeping into conventional soca as well… take for instance, an artist like Hypasounds with “Bam Bam Back,” also on the mix. Interesting times lay ahead.
LU: How has this sound been developing? Where do you see it heading?
JD: Well, given the way that the Caribbean has taken to the sound of bashment soca, and judging from the way artists like Marzville and Stiffy are developing it into a career which is taking them and their songs across the world, plus the interest of artists like I-Octane, Beenie Man, Aidonia and Konshens on bashment soca riddims, I would say that bashment soca has a very bright future. Its a good look for the development and evolution of soca and dancehall on a whole and can only do well for the Caribbean in years to come.
LU: Give us a little insight into the trajectory of this mix. You start with Lil Rick. What’s Lil Rick’s significance for soca in Barbados? Anything else we should be paying particular attention to with this mix?
JD: Well, I wanted to take it back a few years, when bashment soca really started taking off and with the Lil Rick/Machel Montano combination, Bashment Soca was put under the spotlight, and really took off from that point. And then I moved through the years and gave you an insight into how the music grew and developed til present. It also tracks the growth of Stiffy’s music to date as well, with a lot of his biggest songs over the last few years making it onto the mix, which makes sense considering that right now he’s Barbados’ biggest and brightest star in the art form. I genuinely hope that people enjoy my compilation as much as i enjoyed putting it together.
LU: What else can we expect from Jon Doe in the future
JD: Well, with the recent completion of the construction of my studio, website and SoundCloud page, I plan to jump into music production with both feet officially from Crop Over 2017. Last year saw my first real solo foray into production — and I rather enjoyed the taste of it. That is first and foremost on my agenda. And, of course, I plan to take my music and culture to the world, with some more travel and DJ performances. And in all of this, I stay blazing on the air five days a week, every week. No time to gaze!