For anyone who spent this past Labor Day on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, NY, you’ll definitely recognize some of these tunes. During the West Indian Day Parade, the most popular Caribbean hits of the year thunder nonstop from massive tractor-trailer sound systems accompanying masquerade bands down the parkway. Most of the sounds are soca, the extremely popular Caribbean dance music that was born out of calypso in the ’70s. As steel bands back in the day would play calypso tunes for the Panorama competition, most bands these days play arrangements of soca hits from earlier in the year. We have here for you a burning-hot playlist of some of the songs that we heard both on the parade route on Labor Day and as steel pan covers during Panorama.
For an in-depth look at Brooklyn’s Carnival, listen to our program “Carnival in Brooklyn.”
You can also check out these songs as a YouTube playlist.
5 Star Akil – “Different Me”
(Covered by both Despers USA and D’Radoes Steel Orchestra)
GBM Nutron – “Scene”
(Covered by Crossfire Steel Orchestra)
Machel Montano – “Temperature”
(Covered by Steel-X-Plosion)
Voice – “Cheers to Life”
(Covered by Pan Evolution)
Kerwin Du Bois – “Unforgettable”
(Covered by Pan Fantasy)
Kes – “People”
(Covered by CASYM Steel Orchestra)
Farmer Nappy – “BamBilamBamBilamBilamBam”
(Covered by Adlib Steel Orchestra)
Patrice Roberts – “Old and Grey”
(Covered by Harmony Music Makers)
All of these tunes were in rotation along the parkway, reverberating through the crowds. Of course, the soundtrack went beyond just these songs; soca superstar Machel Montano’s high-powered banger “Waiting On the Stage” was a favorite.
Machel Montano – “Waiting On the Stage”
Olatunji – “Oh Yay”
Although most of the Carnival music was from anglophone islands like Trinidad and Tobago, francophone Haiti wrapped up the parade in a big way. The Haitian sound system was undoubtedly the loudest of the lot, blasting a relentless loop of frenetic konpa beats at ear-splitting volume. Following up the mas’ bands as they passed the judging stage, the Haitian truck rolled through at a snail’s pace, surrounded by an ever-growing sweaty throng of revelers wining and partying to the overpowering rhythms. Konpa star T-Vice provided the hype, with his song “Dan Di.”
T-VICE – “Dan Di”