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He is described as one of the best soca disc jockeys locally, but it is not because he is better at selecting or scratch-mixing than the next person to touch the console. The compliment is owed to his unique style of introducing new music into a playlist that other disc jockeys are convinced will only pull the attention of the people if it features the hit songs of the season.
Self-taught at the art of mixing music, DJ Franco (real name Francis Asiedu) said that he never really cared for parties when he started out, but can now boast that he has played a wide range of carnivals - from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados Crop Over to North American carnival celebrations like Miami Carnival, which he recently returned from.
"I used to tell myself, if I could play at one party a month, I would be satisfied. The focus was more on making people know how amazing the new content was as it relates to soca; to act as somewhat of an ambassador," DJ Franco told THE STAR.
But why would any Jamaican disc jockey want to be an ambassador for a genre that was not born here? That's easily answered, because he is not Jamaican. DJ Franco was born to Ghanaian parents in Guyana, lived in Barbados for a while before they moved to the southern parish of Manchester in Jamaica, where he attended high school.
"My first 15 minutes of fame was in fifth form; the students decided to have a little link up at school and at the time I had no equipment, really, so I sneaked the computer from my house and my friend took a monitor and we set it up in the auditorium. There we were, acting like DJs, building a vibe. Fifteen minutes later the principal cut the music ... of course, I got a letter to give my parents," he shared.
The punishment DJ Franco received for his actions never prevented him from making a career out of his hobby. Still, he pursued studies in computer science at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine campus, and earned his bachelors degree. "It was a whole new world, where people my age and older were into soca and treated it like a lifestyle. As I familiarised myself with soca, I started to wish reggae and dancehall could reach every member of society the way soca did in Trinidad."
When he returned to Jamaica, he realised the masses were playing the same set of artistes he left them playing. Becoming the life of the party "was like another plane trip and back"; he did not want a nine-to-five to restrict his time, and took a leap of faith to practise and promote DJ Franco.
"At that time, most persons only knew the artistes Bacchanal featured, and it seemed like everywhere else was taking soca more seriously," he said. "I saw that as an opening to take on my mission of change and tried my best to do a lot of mix CDs to give to persons exiting the events. That passion became noticeable and I was given my break into the local party scene."
DJ Franco continues to urge persons to give the genre a chance. He also continues to do so from his platform as a radio disc jockey for FAME 95 FM and promoter of events like Fete Republic Night Carnival.
"The same African percussions used to make soca also make dancehall rhythms. Give it a chance before writing it off completely, because those islands where soca was born have opened their doors to our popular music, which is on repeat outside of the soca season," he said.