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OVER THE past few months the soca scene has been blessed with quite a few artists making a quick pass through.
Skinny Fabulous and Mr Killa were here earlier in the year, and more recently rising star Nessa Preppy did a 24-hour flyby and not forgetting the Viking Bunji Garlin and wife Fay Ann were here for their carnival band launch a couple of weeks ago.
However, a few weeks prior, after one of my epic bank holiday weekend club runs, I met up with St Vincent artist Fimba, who currently has a big record in the scene called Mind Yuh Funky Business.
During the Trinidad carnival season I spoke with acclaimed sound man and radio programmer Signal to Noise from Slam Radio who broadcast island- wide – and he told me that this year’s carnivals have benefitted because of the number of good songs, this definitely being one of them.
The chorus of Mind Yuh Funky Business is teasing enough to make the most mannered person engage in singing the chorus with the rest of the club, while the electronic driving energy of the riddim ensures you keep dancing.
Fimba calls this brand of St Vincent soca – ‘ragga soca’ – which has a long history attached to the sound of the country’s music.
Fimba explains: “When you talk about ragga soca you have to mention Fafa and Curty Banton who used to put a dancehall dub to the back of soca songs back in the day.” He hastens to add: “That’s what my memory recalls – I could be wrong.”
This song came as a bit of a surprise for Fimba who, at the time, was still working as a plumbing engineer.
He tells me: “I out there working with steel cranes around me as the eld manager with staff I’m responsible for. It was the manager that told me that I gotta quit ‘cos I couldn’t work due [to] the number of calls and messages I was getting.”
He adds: “Every year I put out a song for the culture of St Vincent carnival, but that year I started to get calls that I have to come home. But I was already resigned and retired from performing at Victoria Park.”
At this point of his explanation, Fimba got very expressive. “In there ain’t no normal thing. That is where you will run up on all them monsters and them at the Vincy [St Vincent] Mas. It ain’t no normal ting! Fireman Hooper, Problem Child, Skinny Fabulous, Scorpion ... Soca Monarch Saturday night is not a normal place!”
It seems that the St Vincent vibe is being felt as Skinny Fabulous ‘Famalay’ alongside Machel Montano, and Bunji is still hot in the streets. Fimba laughs and tells me about a recent conversation between the two.
“I told him [to] stop what he [was] doin’ and behave himself as he had the whole of [St Vincent] under pressure, because everyone wants to do ‘power’ (power being the fast energetic style of Soca).”
Fimba doesn’t mind this as it gives him more space to be able to flourish in his chosen sound – but he does warn me not to expect more of that tongue in cheek soca style that I equate to some of the early Calypsonians that I grew up on. On this visit to the UK the St Vincy artist made full use of the 24 hours he was here.
When we met he was still on a high after a studio session that was only meant to be a few dubplate recordings.
“I think I’ve found my next big song,” he tells me. “I haven’t even slept because I was in Atlanta carnival yesterday and recorded a song in the airport hotel before the flight, but I just caught a vibe man, that’s how it works for me – more time.”
The dedication of this artist is very apparent, as he tells me his producer and studio is in New Jersey and he lives in Maryland – which is a three-hour trip. “So when I’m around a studio I just wanna work,” he says.
I was hoping for that attitude to continue as I showed him the direction to my voicing booth in my studio, but that session did just stay as a dubplate session.
I would have thought at some point in our conversation he would have slipped in a customary Mind Yuh Funky Business, but we got through the 30 minutes spent with all questions answered.
New music currently on rotation for Fimba are Bad Mines Ones, which also has his first ever video to accompany it, and Chat Too Much, based off a real life conversation.
Fimba assures me that he will be back for this year’s Notting Hill Carnival at the end of August for his inaugural visit to the event. Let’s make sure it’s memorable one, so when he gets home to the questions, his answer will be obvious...