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The Calypso is a genre of music that is found in the Caribbean islands, and more to say in Trinidad. It attributes its origins to the first African slaves that were imported to the Caribbean islands to work as slaves. This genre can owe its origin to the very beats of West African Kaiso fused with European beats borrowed from the slave masters. Since the slaves were barred from talking to each other and cut off from their families, they had to devise witty methods in which they could communicate and vent out the fury that had built into them. The best method they could utilize was to compose songs that taunted their masters as well as communicated to their fellow slaves. The Caribbean countries were colonized by several colonialists mainly the Spainish and later the British and this heavily impacted the development of the Calypso genre (Cowley 236). It was music that originated by nature of defiance of the slaves to their masters as then the slaves could communicate with each other, something that had been forbidden. The early calypso were composed and sung in a form of French dialect that is referred to as patois. The slaves sung these songs lead by a soloist then known as griot and then others would join in singing together. In this way the slaves could speak with one voice and understand each other which later brought an uprising that led to the abolishment of slavery. Apart from showing defiance, this music was also used in areas that warranted celebrations. The slaves derived their pride from the rich African culture, and they honored it by composing and singing songs that had the calypso beats.

Calypso has its distinguishing features that identify it in the modern era during the Carnival rituals in the early years of 20th century which brought about people from Caribbean especially those from Trinidad for celebrations of their shared traditions and culture. This is still celebrated even nowadays through annual festivals in the Caribbean. This music became very popular in the year 1912 with many records being churned out. By the 1920s, this genre had taken its roots into carnivals and functions. The modern day calypso has really deviated from the original form and has taken the twist to being influenced by love, power, and even drugs. It still maintains its defiance nature and focuses majorly on men’s domination over women. These are the social themes that are entrenched into this genre. The artists chose to compose music based on the man-woman relationship since this was the topic the Caribbean could associate their daily life with. The music videos to these scenes involve a lot of partying and scenes where a single man is surrounded by multitude of skimpily dressed women. This is to show that the Caribbean men have wide control over their women that is, one man can have many ladies whereas women cannot own men. This is social imbalance and, studying the actual facts on the ground, it can be said that this is a very false assumption. Some of the carnivals in the present day include nudity where naked revelers walk in the streets, all in the name of calypso. Women are also subjected to inhumane actions such as violence and rape (Hackel et al 116).

Another social aspect incorporates the use of wealth, drugs, sex, money, power, and violence (Moskowitz 120). Entertainment scenes portray images of charged men and women wildly partying and at other times involved in sexual orgies. Drugs are also portrayed and beer and alcohol are used heavily. Some scenes depict those people who got wealth as people who go the biggest say in the society. The mighty are usually shown in the videos with Cuban cigars in their hands blowing the smoke towards the cameras. Marijuana is a common drug that is characterized in reggae versions of calypso music where smoking “weed” is seen as the in-thing. A point to note is wherever rich men are portrayed, their money is usually from drug business. Music scenes include scenes where drug deals usually high grade cocaine or the like are taking place. Such scenes have influenced those Caribbean youngsters who then form gangs and territories and indulge in actual drug trade as depicted by the calypso music they watch. Cases have been heard in Caribbean Islands where rival gangs have clashed and deaths occurred. The original defiance theme of calypso music finds use in the clamor of political power in the Caribbean. Calypso has been fused into politics as it was in the case of Dr. Eric Williams who in 1957 was immortalized in the song “Ballister” by Original Young Brigade. In this song they heaped praise of this Caribbean political hero saying that if it was not for Williams, then Trinidad would not go and neither come (Regis 1). There was the album Jean and Dinah in which the Caribbean commemorated the departure of the troos of the United States of America from their country which brought about a new era of politically influenced calypso.

Calypso has not been all that negative as portrayed. The women have also played some important roles, many depicted as loving wives and mothers to the Caribbean men and children. The women are depicted being beautiful suffering from the envy of the rest of the women. They also have featured in the church hymnals that have inspired many people to convert into Christianity in the Caribbean. Their party mode renditions have managed to market the Caribbean as the ideal holiday destinations through the songs that showcase the beautiful sandy beaches and coastlines that form Caribbean. In addition to all this, many artists have made decent income through calypso performances with some selling over a million album copies.

Calypso genre is facing stiff competition such as the Jamaican reggae, the American hip hop, and American R&B. Its fame is slowly waning off, but creative artists who still find the sweetness of calypso are fusing it with these genres to come up with hybrid calypso. If people are expecting calypso to get extinct, then they are wrong very much. Artists such as Rudder David have fused the modern day dance rhythms with the original calypso producing a very successful brand of contemporary music. It can be said without any reasonable doubt that calypso just as the slaves survived their masters’ brutality, so calypso will survive this onslaught and remain the dominant genre of Caribbean music. It was music that brought change, and it should continue bringing change for the better.

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