Sierra Leone, West Africa
New Year’s Eve 2022
Over 5000 miles away from the origins of Soca Music, the beat of Soca was heard vibrantly as part of the New Year’s Eve 2022 celebrations in Sierra Leone, West Africa.
Sierra Leone, with a population just over 8m situated nearly directly across the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean, had Soca Music streamed heavily enough to hit the charts on Apple Music (Reggae), on one of the biggest global holidays of the year; that is a very good signal of interest or perhaps familiarity with the sound of Soca Music.
To keep perspective, while Africa may seem far away, it is further in mileage by a lot, to go to France, Spain, Germany or even Vancouver, Canada – than to go to Sierra Leone from the Caribbean. In addition, the rhythms of Soca may not be a completely foreign phenomenon to Sierra Leoneans – as some of their traditional music (specifically palm-wine music/maringa) includes some ‘Caribbean/calypso’ elements. It should also be noted that in 2022 Sierra Leone was the #3 country in Africa streaming Soca Music behind Madagascar & Seychelles.
It is no wonder that the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs in Sierra Leone would work with event organizers to stage the first ever AfriCaribbean Festival in the country during the same period that Soca Music placed heavily on the charts. This festival initiative started when the organizer visited Trinidad & Tobago years ago. This can be evidenced as the event in Sierra Leone incorporated costumes, a J’ouvert and a special New Years Eve performance with several Soca artists, who not only showcased their hits but also beat some Pan for the spectators.
The recent New Year’s Eve placements of Soca landing on Sierra Leone Apple Music (Reggae) charts provided a glimpse of what may be to come if Soca Music is pushed deeper into the fabric of the country. To end the year, Sierra Leoneans heavily streamed twelve (12) Soca songs by ten (10) artists – both old and new.
The King of Soca, Machel Montano led the way with 3 songs spanning a 10-year period – from #132 Mr. Fete (Nov. 2011) produced by Precision Productions, #133 Brace Up (Dec. 2018) to the more recent Long Time Refix (Feb. 2021) produced by Parry Jack, which came in at #135. Skinny Fabulous held another 2 positions – one of his recent releases, No Relationship produced by Xpert Productions came in at #137 and his well-known Up & Up (July 2019) at #139. Iwer George also had 2 songs on the charts with his classic Water Blessings (Oct. 2018) coming in at #144 and his collaboration Wet Fete (Jan. 2020) with Viking Ding Dong at #142.
Some well-known classics also made their place on the charts with Practice (Oct. 2018) by GBMNutron coming in at #131, A Little Wine (April 2012) by Patrice Roberts at #141 and Bacchanalist (Dec. 2012) by Kerwin Du Bois also produced by Precision Productions at #143. The cumulative shows the depth of knowledge of the genre as Sierra Leoneans are streaming songs well over a decade old. Farmer Nappy rounded out the group with his more recent Dec. 2021 release Get Up, coming in at #138. The top peaking song of the day went to Drop That (Mar. 2018) the collaboration with Preedy & Sedale produced by Twin Island Studio coming in at #78.
In the OkayAfrica article from 2016 both Montano and international DJ/Producer Walshy Fire agreed that the ‘attraction goes both ways over the Atlantic’ and that the ‘bilateral discovery…has the potential to strengthen ties between African and Caribbean people like never before’.