Hate him or love him Trinidad Killa is the one local act on everyone’s lips.
Killa (Kern Joseph), may be a polarising act, but he is arguably the most relevant artiste in a modern soca meets dancehall Carnival dynamic. His music bridges the musical divide between underground hard core unfiltered lyrics and radio friendly themes.
It is by design, not chance, that everyone – from toddlers to pensioners – is singing his catchy refrains of “Gun man in she hole” and “Dy Zess” although many may not be proud to admit it. The former has received massive criticism from some quarters while being openly embraced in others going viral regionally and across the Caribbean diaspora.
Bahamian MP Travis Robinson found himself in hot water earlier this week when he posted a photo on social media holding a riffle at a shooting range with the caption “Gun man in she hole”.
Still Killa, 32, is in many ways a modern day calypsonian holding a mirror up to local society. When he spoke to the Express yesterday morning, the Arima-born act said he is simply giving the people what they want.
Apart from the dancehall fuelled “Gun Man in She Hole” and the Carnival hit “Power of Soca” he is featured on the remix of SuperBlue and Ravi B’s chutney soca hit “Omalay”.
“I am representing the people and ground movement. I stand for the people and what they want,” Killa said during an open WhatsApp exchange.
Weighing in on the ongoing debate over dancehall songs, local or foreign, being played at Carnival time, Killa revealed he has unsuccessfully knocked at soca’s door for nearly two decades. As a result he was inadvertently directed towards dancehall music because the truth is, that is what the next generation is demanding.
“People are focusing on ‘Gunman in she hole’ when I am focusing on satisfying the crowd. Seventeen years I have been knocking on soca’s door and was unable to step in. I got a big break with a dancehall song and some people are upset. If the people want soca only then by all means satisfy them,” he reasoned.
Introducing the next generation to soca
Killa said his experience on the ground has taught him that the 16- to 23-year-old demographic is much more interested in dancehall, pop and trap music. While most music creatives are focused on soca music within a Carnival context, they are losing the bigger picture of empowering and mobilising the youth, he argued.
“People are fighting for soca to be heard for two months and I will rather the country fight for soca for the entire year. We tend to focus on ourselves as if we know the right answers and we forget the younger generation coming up. They don’t appreciate the soca culture as much and we need to find out why and fix that,” he revealed.
Killa said his approach is one of adding medicine to the juice by giving young audiences the music they want while introducing them to the “Power of Soca”.
“It is a fact they (younger audiences) prefer dancehall, pop and trap and they gravitate to the more aggressive lyrics. I am simply giving them what they want and while I have their attention, introducing them to the ‘Power of Soca’. I want to show them how to ‘zess’ to soca. Now all the youths like soca again. Dy zess,” he said emphatically.
So what exactly is zess? Killa says despite the negative connotations of the word it really embodies a good vibe or feeling.
“I am happy that people can finally take away the negative from zess and use it as entertainment. Zess is truly a feel-good experience,” he said.
As for his immediate plans, Killa says he just wants to make his contribution and keep entertaining the people.
“My aim is to perform for everyone who wants to have a good time and not focus on negative things in society. Carnival is part of our culture and with my contribution ‘Power of Soca’, I plan to enter any competition that I can and make the people happy. God will direct my steps,” he concluded.