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THERE IS a lot of love for the Eastern Caribbean here at BrukOut HQ. I’m very proud of my Dominican roots, and we have two St Lucians on board, who fly the flag for their island with fervent vigour.
Over the last 18 months or so, one of the team, Nick, has consistently brought up the emerging style from St Lucia called Dennery Segment. For those who are unfamiliar, Dennery is a town on the east coast of the island. It may have been the most sensible thing he has said.
Being a Manchester United fan, we usually ignore him, but on this occasion we took notice of him – and we are very glad we did! Dennery Segment is the new sound in soca – big up to all of the brothers putting in the work. It’s a mixture of Bashment, African Kuduro and soca itself.
So we sent young Nick off to deepest west London on a mission recently to catch up with one of the hottest Dennery Segment artists around, Freezy. He was in the UK for a show alongside Grenada’s Lavaman.
Freezy is the man behind on of 2017’s biggest soca hits, ‘Split In The Middle’, which has more than 10 million online views, and is still on major rotation across the Caribbean music world.
“I started recording at 15, but did it professionally from 2012 – I grew up in St Lucia, but learnt to mix and master in Canada,” Freezy says. “I recorded ‘Split In The Middle’ three years ago now, in 2015.”
As a major part of the Dennery Segment movement he beams with pride at the headway that the genre is currently making. “The music has been hitting the region hard for the last three years – ‘Split...’ has firmly opened the door as did Ricky T’s ‘Freaky Girls’ – it channelled a lot of people to St Lucian music.
“People heard how infectious the music was and just grabbed on to it. The respect for the productions has increased. The ‘small islands’ always had talent, but just lacked resources – but now the world is a click away on your phone or your computer, so if you are working hard you have the chance to link anyone.”
It is a view shared by Michael Rogers, program manager at The Wave, one of St Lucia’s largest radio stations. “I believe the rest of the Caribbean has taken to it very well, to the point where this genre has dominated Trinidad Carnival and seeped through other island under the name Kuduro.
“International soca artists like Machel Montano, Patrice Roberts and Bunji Garlin have taken the whole thing to another level.”
One of my wishes for 2018 (outlined in this very column three weeks ago) was a hope that soca grew out of the seasonal cycle that it seems to be stuck in at the moment, and Michael believes that Dennery Segment can help make that that happen.
“It has grown beyond the traditional season as the genre has evolved quite quickly. The artists have realised the pull of Dennery Segment and as a result have consistently released new songs during other seasons like Christmas and in October for our Creole Heritage month,” he tells me.
So what it is about DS that makes it so appealing? “When it hits, you have to move,” says Freezy. “Even if you don’t understand some of the words because we have some creole in there. It makes the people wonder what is going on they love it more – you get all elements in one.”
Michael Rogers agrees: “The infectious element of the Dennery Segment is the riddim. This is what most people gravitate to. When you hear you can’t help but move regardless of whether the language is known or not.”
With the continued growth of Afrobeats, and a seemingly open attitude to music styles from across the world, the language ‘barrier’ may not be much of a barrier at all.
With the rest of the world just one click away now may be the perfect time for music from the Eastern Caribbean to shine. “We have already done many shows across the world,” Freezy confirms. “We are yet to hit the States, as when we do we want to do it properly.
“We have guested on many shows across Europe and other parts of the Caribbean – one of my best shows was in St Maarten – the love we are getting from everywhere is amazing. We are trying to go to Trinidad for Carnival if we can get some time off – the bookings are crazy at the moment so we are trying to make some time. The vibes are blessed.”
This isn’t just a one-man movement – it seems the strength is in the unity of the scene in St Lucia, and the young audiences are supporting intensely.
“You should also check out Black Boy, Migos & Mata, Subance, Umpa and Messy,” Michael tells me. “There have been many pioneers over the last decade like Alley Cat, Crocodile, Yardie, Shepp Dawg, Exodus, all who merged patios over dancehall, as well as producers like DRC who have been backing this thing hard,” Freezy adds.
The movement is strong, and hopefully will continue to grow. Look out for Dennery Segment in the forthcoming months, springing up all over the place.