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Album Review

Hindsight is 20/20, but the dancehall-soca fusion now known as "ragga soca" really was inevitable — in part because dancehall culture has so completely overtaken the Caribbean music scene, and in part because soca's bouncy, three-against-two rhythm has been an important element of the ragga sound for years. In fact, unless you're paying very close attention, you might not even notice that this album is more soca than reggae until several tracks into the program. Garlin's vocal delivery is straight out of the dancehall — more rapid-fire declamation than melodic calypso crooning. And it's extremely effective: songs like "Pan and Soca" and "Brrrt" may be silly, but the rhythms are rock-solid and Garlin commits himself to them powerfully enough to make you forget how dumb they really are. When his material is strong enough to match his delivery — as it is on the uptempo lovers rock combination track "Hardcore Loving" (with Rita Jones) or the hip-hop-inflected "Swing It," the effect can be explosive. (Unfortunately, the latter track is marred by a strangely unbalanced mix, in which 80 percent of the sound is crammed into the left stereo channel.) Very nice overall.


Born: Sangre Grande, Trinidad

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '00s, '10s

One of the leading artists in the ragga soca movement, Trinidadian soca superstar Bunji Garlin is also one of the genre's few crossover artists, having made an impact internationally with Major Lazer, the Soul Train Awards, and even the television show Greys Anatomy all in the mix. Born Ian Anthony Alvarez in Sangre Grande, Trinidad, he got his stage name from the bungee cord (which is flexible) and Garlin (a type of gun). He kicked off his career just as a dancehall-influenced strain of soca music...
Full bio
Global, Bunji Garlin
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