Skinny Banton

RIGHT SONG: Trinidad-born Grenadian jab-jab soca man Skinny Banton has a monster hit on his hands with “Wrong Again”. Photos: Nikkeisha STEWART

What ah do wrong again lawd? Tell meh what ah do wrong again.

That pleading sing-along refrain from Grenada jab-jab soca man Skinny Banton has been echoed by hard-core feters, casual limers, family get-togethers and headphone-wearing office deskjockeys since long before Christmas.

Skinny (Shirlan George), goes on to tell a tragic, but comical tale of being on the wrong side of a painful discovery of infidelity on the song entitled “Wrong Again”. He sings:

People calling me name, lawd. They say ah get horn again.

“First time I got a horn was in secondary school, she cheated on me during recess,” Skinny joked when he spoke to Kitcharee on Tuesday.

“Is a true story, but do not just look at my direction and point at me as though I have a problem with my life or my relationship,” he continued laughing out loud.

“Truthfully, ‘Wrong Again’ is a collage of experiences that are mine and those of others. Not every line or statement may be relating to my life specifically, but it relates to somebody’s life whether past or present.”

All jokes aside, Skinny says anyone in a toxic hurtful relationship should place self-preservation above everything else.

“Look at yourself and ask yourself if the things that you are holding on to are really worth it for your peace of mind and well-being.

“Sometimes our pain is not only caused by people, but by consequences of decisions that we made. A lot of times we get into relationships that may not be in our best interest. Sometimes when people hurt us it can be that we have allowed them to,” he reasoned.

The right sound

In truth, “Wrong Again” has proven to be the right move for the Trinidad-born entertainer. His Carriacou roots have endeared him so much to the people of the tri-island state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique that he has been adopted as one of their cultural ambassadors.

Skinny found moderate success in the past with the jab-jab fuelled “Soak it Good” (2015) and “Aye” on the 2016 Gwada Riddim. And in August 2018 he was recognised by New York State senator Jesse Hamilton and the West Indian American Day Carnival Association as a cultural ambassador.

Grenadian jab music has since gone on to influence soca globally. The universal appeal of “Wrong Again” places Skinny at the axis of that powerful jab soca movement heading into 2020. He says the world is only now recognising what he knew all along about that music.

“The music was always on another level, in my opinion,” he said.

“As a child growing up I always thought it was special because of my culture. To me, the freedom of expression is what makes it so unique and authentic. There is something about the freedom of the movement of getting together and playing jab-jab. The smell, the environment and the free expression in storytelling makes us unique. We can express ourselves any way we please within reason of course and still be accepted.”

No pressure to win titles

As for all the attention and demands for his performances from soca pockets across the globe, Skinny says he is taking it all in stride.

“I wake up every day just trying to survive just like everyone else. Success is not something that I ever really took a measurement of, if that makes sense.

“Like, I have had great moments in the past, but to me success is a never-ending measurement, it is ongoing. Depending on where you are in life you may view success differently.

“I am at this present time very happy and excited overall that the song is widely accepted and loved. It’s being called a classic and that is surreal to me, but I am thankful that people are enjoying it in every way possible,” he said.

Skinny says he has also purposely put no pressure on himself to win any titles at Trinidad and Tobago Carnival.

Grenadian jab man Mr Killa (Hollice Mapp) made history last year when he became the first non-national of T&T to win an International Soca Monarch (Power) title with the manic “Run Wid It”.

There is no self-expectation to duplicate that achievement in Skinny’s camp. Instead he plans to focus on having a good time with his audiences, he said.

“Firstly, congratulations to Killa on all his success. We are both flying the flag and representing the music the best way we can and we do it differently. I do not put too much pressure on myself to be like anyone else.

“For me, a next man’s success does not determine my goals and it does not determine what happens for me. I just see myself as coming to represent the Tri-island state of Grenada, Carriacou, and Petit Martinique and doing it in the best way that I can. I know that people are celebrating already and I appreciate that. If the music can unite us then I have served my purpose,” Skinny concluded.

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