Words by Jesse Serwer
Photos by Oluwaseye
“Big Bad Soca” is Bunji Garlin’s latest tribute to the sound and culture of his native Trinidad & Tobago. Produced by Jus Now, the 2017 Trinidad Carnival anthem bottles the sound and feel of Carnival with traditional, Trini-style brass and the drum sounds of the island’s famed riddim sections.
“Soca is at a new stage, where it is the featured music on many world platforms and integrations, as opposed to years ago where it would be sidetracked for one reason or another,” Garlin says of his lyrics to the track, which appears on his newly-issued Turn Up album for VP Records. “So it is no longer the corner bar music of the little island. It is now one of the big, bad sounds that’s planting new crops in the world. Soca now means hope, it means belief, it means new horizons, it means new chances. It means joy and freedom from every chain.”
U.K.-based director Tom Swindell (who has previously helmed Bunji’s “Turn Up” and “Truck on D Road” videos) shot the heart of the video at this year’s Carnival in Trinidad, capturing various elements of the Caribbean’s greatest street party, including staples like the Paramin Blue Devils and the iconic Fancy Indian. Months later in New York City, Swindell brought on LargeUp family Blacka Di Danca to produce and choreograph a dance sequence featuring appearances from dancers Selena Watkins, Aliyah Ali, Chio and Royal G, as well as trumpeter Sean Taylor and artwork by Instagram-famous artist, Laolu Senbanjo. The result is one of the sharpest looking soca videos to date, and a true portrait of Trinidad Carnival culture circa now.
As Bunji puts it,“The video is the canvas of the song. In the Caribbean, videos are more or less done literal to the song to embody the whole story. The song explains the images and the images tells the song.”