Closeup August 15, 2017
Soundin' Like Weself: The Trinidadian Rapso Tradition

Producer Jake Hochberger brings us to the southernmost island in the Caribbean, Trinidad. Trinidad is the birthplace of the steel drum, calypso and soca music, and is home to the largest Carnival celebration in the world. Here we encounter the musical and philosophical movement called rapso–an infectiously danceable rhythmic oration style that comes with a philosophy championing a Trinidadian identity in the face of a colonial history and a globalized present. We meet three generations of artists, from the founding King of Rapso, Brother Resistance, to the emerging musicians behind the American hip-hop influenced trapso sound. Brother Resistance shares stories of how local rhythms and participation in Trinidad’s Black Power movement influenced him to define his music as the most recent manifestation of an ancient oral tradition, as passed down from the West African griot. Omari Ashby of Kindred, Wendell Manwarren of 3Canal, and Ataklan bring us into the Trinidadian cultural matrix, where speed-rapping Carnival masquerade characters come to life through this music of rebellion and social uplift.

Best of The Beat on Afropop: Rapso From Trinidad and Tobago

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