Calypso Revival: Kes + Kernal Roberts Get Retro on “Shake”

Words by Tishanna Williams

“Shake,” Kes‘ first release for the 2017 Carnival season, sees the Trinidadian soca star teamed up with Kernel “Kitch” Roberts.

Known for his work with Machel Montano — for whom he’s worked as writer, producer, musical director and drummer — “Kitch” is striking out on his own this year. With his reputation as a hitmaker, it’s no surprise that he would find himself collaborating with another high-caliber international artist in Kes.

If “Shake” sounds familiar to you soca lovers and Carnival goers, it’s because its arrangement is similar to Machel Montano and Xtatik’s 2005 hit, “BubbleNut.” Musically, it has a vintage swing with a brass band/pan melody and a strong riddim section, offering a fresh take on Trinidad’s golden era of calypso. You could call it a follow-up to Kes’ “Coming Over,” a track inspired by The Roaring Lion’s 1945 calypso, “Miss Dorothy.” Kernel Roberts is the son of the late, great Lord Kitchener — one of the pioneers of Soca music and a legend rivaled only in the history books of Trinidad by the Mighty Sparrow — and someone who knows a thing or two about vintage sounds. And, in case you didn’t get the message, the song’s cover art features an elegant depiction of Dame Lorraine, a traditional Trinidad Carnival masquerade character.

With its vintage swing and lyrics focused on the ladies pelting waist, “Shake” has the makings of a Carnival hit for 2017 — and maybe even a new J’Ouvert standard. Listen here: