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SiriusXM is home to the voice of iconic American radio broadcaster Howard Stern and rapper MC Lyte. Now it has also given voice to TT’s own soca.

SiriusXM channel, The Joint 42, known primarily for reggae, will now have soca in its rotation.

TT has to thank soca DJ ambassador Darryl “D-Life” Payne for this achievement. He will be deejaying every Saturday on Dancehall Saturday Night and selecting soca music to play on the channel every day.

Besides having been made a fixed rotation DJ on July 12, Payne was given the “honour” and “responsibility” of not only choosing the songs to be played but also doing the voice-overs and introductions for its August 3 start.

Speaking to Newsday about it Payne said, “I migrated here close to 30-something years ago. Being put in that position now is truly, truly an honour. Up to this morning I was putting the list together. What made it emotional for me was being in the studio at SiriusXM and recording the voice-overs and introductions and the traps to introduce soca to the world basically.

“Starting on August 3 when you hear that voice, it is going to be my voice throughout the day introducing soca,” he said.

Payne is well-known to the soca music industry having been the first to introduce the songs of many soca artistes to a wider audience.

His LinkedIn summary says, “The up-tempo, sexy vibrations of Carnival are finally reaching a global stage, and music-lovers and producers alike are running to catch up. Darryl 'D-Life' Payne, is one of the few deejays on the cusp of this movement. Trinidadian-born and Brooklyn-raised, D-Life has 'soca in his blood.'

"Not limited to soca however, he has been put to the test with the best reggae and hip-hop sound systems in New York City. He played for years alongside reggae champions Massive B on Hot 97. He mixed for the legendary Doug E Fresh on The Show. His radio experience includes Fire Sundays with Massive B on WQHT (Hot) 97.1 (2005-2011); The Joint SiriusXM Radio (2010-present); The Show with Doug E Fresh on WBLS 107.5 (2013- 2016).”

Payne has been a part-time DJ on the North American satellite and online radio service for the past eight years but was fully put on rotation on July 12. He played on the Joint 42, on its Saturday night mixes.

The soca DJ as Darryl "D-Life" Payne is called hopes to get a world channel on SiriusXM for Caribbean music.

While playing, he would mix soca into the spot.

“When they had the dancehall Saturday night mixes, I would always infuse another segment in the mix, soca. Being from Trinidad, I would fuse it in with the reggae and play it. The response has always been great,” he said.

His infusion resulted in the service’s higher-ups “getting tons of e-mails requesting soca and the e-mails were going to the programme director.”

The service had also recently decided to have exclusive DJs for the dancehall Saturday night mix and Payne was chosen as one of them.

He said when he went to sign the necessary paperwork, the channel’s programme director Pat McKay “called me in her office and said we have been getting good news, people requesting soca.”

Payne had been constantly advocating for soca’s inclusion so when McKay told him “the higher ups at Sirius XM decided to give it the green light” there was no greater joy for him.

“In line with that, I have also been assigned to assist with the playlist in terms of picking the songs that are going to go into rotation. That in itself is a huge deal because I have always been an advocate to represent soca because I am originally from TT.

“To have my debut as one of their fixed DJs starting on August 4, it could not come at a better timing. Introducing soca on the 3 and (me) being on air on the fourth, east coast, west coast globally you’ll be able to get it on the app. I think the reality of it has not hit me as yet,” he said.

It is an emotional thing for Payne having put years of service into giving soca a bigger voice. “It gets emotional because you work so hard to push the culture. I am always in Trinidad every year. In Barbados, I try to go to all the Carnivals and to be placed in that situation...

“I have always been known, when I first started on Hot 97, they used to call me the soca DJ. I would go on there and not just play what their play list is but I will always infuse soca. I would probably get a call because it was not popular back here but I would always get a call Monday morning and it was worth it.”

The market is ripe for soca, Payne says. “I have a lot of friends who are hip hop DJs and EDM DJs asking me and calling me regular and saying let me know the hot soca songs right now.”

This, Payne said, would not have been possible without soca lovers the world over. “And I have to commend the people, I have to commend the overall response because the more we demand it, the more it plays. Social media, he added, played “a major role” in this as well since it allowed soca to go viral. But Carnivals, the world over, and the happiness soca creates is fuelling its ascension, he believes.

Some even say, Payne said, “soca is more popular now than reggae at this point.”

It is not just soca nor dancehall Payne wants the world to hear. As a lover of Caribbean music, he hopes to push for a world music channel at SiriusXM featuring soca, Afrobeat, Latin and other varieties of music.

And ultimately, “to have soca nominated as a genre at the Grammys.”

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