Soca is a style of Caribbean music originating in Trinidad and Tobago.

Soca originally combined the melodic lilting sound of calypso with insistent cadence music from the French Antilles (which is often electronic in recent music), and Indian musical instruments -- particularly the dholak, tabla and dhantal -- as demonstrated in Shorty's classic compositions "Ïndrani" and "Shanti Om".

It has evolved in the last 20 years primarily by musicians from various Anglophone Caribbean countries including Trinidad, Guyana, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, United States Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, The Bahamas, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica and Belize.


The Godfather of Soca is Garfield Blackman, rose to fame as Lord Shorty with his 1963 hit "Cloak and Dagger" and took on the name Ras Shorty. He started out writing songs and performing in the calypso genre. In the 1970s, he began experimenting with calypso by blending it with the local chutney. Shorty added Indian instruments, including the dholak, tabla and dhantal. A prolific musician, composer and innovator, Shorty experimented with fusing calypso and elements of Indo-Caribbean music for nearly a decade before unleashing "the soul of calypso,"...soca music.

Shorty had been in Dominica during an Exile One performance of cadence-lypso, and collaborated with Dominica's 1969 Calypso King, Lord Tokyo and two calypso lyricists, Chris Seraphine and Pat Aaron in the early 1970s, who wrote him some creole lyrics. Soon after Shorty released a song, "Ou Petit", with words like "Ou dee moin ou petit Shorty" (meaning "you told me you are small Shorty"), a combination of calypso, cadence and kwéyòl. Shorty's 1974 Endless Vibrations and Soul of Calypso brought soca to its peak of international fame.


Soca's history is as multi-faceted as the music is infectious. Regarding its name, many[who?] refer to the fact that Lord Shorty initially referred to his musical hybrid as "solka", representing the true "soul of calypso", and the name was later changed to "soca" by a music journalist[who?]. Many[who?] suggest that the name "soca" was a combination of the first two letters of "SOul" and "CAlypso". Soca's development includes its fusion of calypso, cadence, and Indian musical instruments -- particularly the dholak, tabla and dhantal -- as demonstrated in Shorty's classic compositions "Ïndrani" and "Shanti Om".

Soca remains a vibrant style, often coopted by other musical genres and artists. It has grown since its inception to incorporate elements of disco, rap, reggae, house music, zouk, and dance music genres, and continues to blend in contemporary music styles and trends.

Related genres

Soca music has evolved like all other music over the years, with calypsonians experimenting with other Caribbean rhythms.

Some examples are the following:

Rapso: Eastern Caribbean dialect hip-hop with Soca and Calypso melody and bold lyrics.
Chutney soca: Original soca performed with a more chutney styled form; mainly performed by chutney musicians
Ragga soca: A fusion of Jamaican ragga and soca (chutney music replaced with dancehall music) so it is dancehall and contemporary calypso, which is an uptempo calypso beat with moderate bass and electronic instruments. A Trinidadian form of performing dancehall reggae.
Parang soca: A combination of calypso, soca, and Latin music, Parang originated in Trinidad and is most often sung in Spanish.
Steelband-soca: Steel pans are types of a drum often used in soca and calypso music; it became so popular that it became its own musical genre. Steel pans are handmade, bowl-like metal drums crafted so that different drum sections produce different notes when struck. Steelbands are groups of musicians who play songs entirely on steel drums. There are many types of steel pans, each with its own set of pitches.
Bouyon soca:, sometimes referred to as Jump up soca, is a fusion-genre that typically blends old bouyon rhythms from the 90s' and soca music. This style of bouyon is mostly, but not exclusively produced in Saint Lucia. Bouyon is a popular music of Dominica, also known as jump up music in Guadeloupe and Martinique.
Groovy soca: Created by Robin Imamshah with his composition "Frenchman", this growing style focuses on melody in soca, partly because of criticism of soca's ubiquitous 'jump and wave'-only lyrical and musical content. It features sensual vocals over mid-tempo soca rhythms, and very often elements of zouk and ragga soca.
Rockso: A futuristic-sounding, North American/Anglo-caribbean 'mutant' style of calypso, focusing on a wide range of subject matter and 'flows' (delivery), song arrangements, innovative, bass-laden drum patterns, quirky sound effects, elements of 'extempo' (freestyle lyricism), and an urban music sensibility. It differs from groovy soca and rapso, in that it rarely, if ever, incorporates ragga soca or a reggae personality. It is characterized instead as a more modern update to calypso and highlights the disparate personalities of the performers. Unlike soca, it is not seasonally focused, but is geared for year-round play. Its vernacular reveals its Trinidadian and North American soil.

Soca has also been experimented with in Bollywood films, Bhangra, in new Punjabi pop, and in disco music in the United States.


Soca music is based on a strong rhythmic section that is often recorded using synthesized drum sounds and then sequenced inside computers; however, for live shows, the live human drummer emulates the recorded version, often using electronic drums to trigger drum samples. The drum and percussion are often loud in this genre of music and are sometimes the only instruments to back up the vocal. Soca is indeed defined by its loud, fast percussion beats. Synthesizers are used often in modern soca and have replaced the once typical horn section at 'smaller' shows. Electric and bass guitars are found very often and are always found in a live soca band. A horn section is found occasionally in live soca bands mostly for the 'bigger' shows. It usually consist of two trumpets and a trombone, with saxophones being part of the section from time to time. Invariably other metal instruments may include cowbell or automobile break rotor.

While the Trinidad-born steel drum is known as the official instrument of the Caribbean, its waning presence in soca music, along with its coopting by other nations, has many soca and calypso purists concerned. It has since enjoyed a slow resurgence, appearing more in soca music, as well as in the slowed-down, melodic Groovy Soca and production-focused Rockso genres.It is mostly from Africa and is a very famous calypso.

Worldwide soca hits, or songs that incorporate soca music

"Who Let The Dogs Out?" - Anslem Douglas
"Sweet Soca Song (La La La Ti Ti Ti)" - Robin Imamshah
"Hot Hot Hot" - Arrow, top selling soca song
"Who Let the Dogs Out?" - Baha Men (originally recorded by Anslem Douglas)
"Dollar Wine" - Colin Lucas and Taxi
"Frenchman" - Cathy Ella and Taxi
"Follow the Leader" - Soca Boys (originally recorded by Nigel and Marvin Lewis)
"It's Carnival" - Destra and Machel Montano
"Raggamuffin" - Square One
"DJ Ride" - Square One
"Turn Me On" - Kevin Lyttle
"Tempted to Touch" - Rupee
"Leggo Meh Man" - Shayne Bailey
"What I Want" - Fireball, produced by Bob Sinclar
"Road Rage" - Black Dragon
"Soca Dance" - Charles D. Lewis
"Island Girl" - Burning Flames, used in the 90s movie Weekend at Bernie's
"Workey Workey" - Burning Flames
"Game Of Love and Unity" - Shaggy/Rupee/Fay-Ann Lyons
"Defense (The Anthem Remix)" - Machel Montano, Pitbull and Lil Jon
"Come Dig It" - Machel Montano
"Big Truck" - Machel Montano
"All I Know" - Claudete Peters
"Expose" - Tizzy
"Ragga Ragga" - Red Plastic Bag
"Nookie" - Jamesy P
"Whine Pon It" - Maddzart
"Pressure Boom" - Ricky T

(from the article Soca music of Wikipedia)

Selected examples

Video A


Video B


Video C


Video D


List of soca musicians and groups

Collie Buddz
Maximus Dan
Nicole David
Anslem Douglas
Destra Garcia
Bunji Garlin
Alison Hinds
Charles D. Lewis
Lil Bitts
Lord Beginner
Lord Kitchener
Fay-Ann Lyons
Kevin Lyttle
Mighty Shadow
Mighty Sparrow
Machel Montano
Red Plastic Bag
Gerald Rhaburn
Roaring Lion
Kernal Roberts
Patrice Roberts
Ras Shorty I
Shurwayne Winchester
Burning Flames
Fabulous Five Inc.
Samba Squad
Square One

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