FADER Five: Machel Montano’s Wining-Worthy Soca Jams

The six-time international Soca Monarch calls out the jams that get his waistline rolling.

Fader Five Machel Montano
Photographer Andrew Dosumnu
August 25, 2014

In our newly minted FADER Five column, we ask the artists and producers orbiting our universe to riff on a theme and serve up five gems of their choosing. 

Former FADER cover star Machel Montano has been ripping down stages with high energy performances since winning his first soca competition title at the tender age of nine. Since then, Montano has amassed thirty-something albums, zig-zagged the globe on tour, and racked up a bulging catalogue of frenzy-inducing bangers. Though a major star in his native Trinidad and abroad, Montano strives tirelessly to bring a global sound to soca music, and has increased the geographical scope of the genre by collaborating with international acts like Ladysmith Black Mombaza from South Africa, Timaya from Nigera and America's very own king of crunk, Lil Jon. "It's been a dream of mine for 15 years to create this signature sound," says Montano. "I really want to continue to work African artists, like TimayaLadysmith Black Mombazo,  2Face Idibia and these younger producers are around me—people like Diplo, Ricky BlazeLondon FutureKubiyahi— and now I just need to get back into the studio and bring all these elements together." In the spirit of The FADER's Sell Off festivities, we asked the six-time reigning Monarch to pick the top five soca songs that get his waistline rolling just in time for Labor Day. 

1. Burning Flames, "Workey Workey" [1989]

I'm a fan of all soca music, not just Trinidadian soca, and I always try to study what some people call 'small Island soca'—music from the French Caribbean islands like St. Lucia, Dominica, bands like WCK. I really like Burning Flames from Antigua. There aren't many times in soca music that I can feel like a fan because I'm always working. The moment a song comes on, I'm ready to dissect it, think about what would make it better and how could I make my songs sound like what I'm hearing. It's always work, a constant development process in my head. But "Workey Workey" is one of my all time favorite recording ever! When that shit come on I really feel like a fan, I just want to jam on a woman. 

2. Kevin Lyttle, "Turn Me On" [2003]

I grew up listening to a lot of American pop music. Songs like " The Double Dutch Bus," "Rock the Boat" and "The Tide is High" were very influential to me. As a kid, I always dreamed of having soca songs that sounded international and could played around the world. "Turn Me On" by Kevin Lyttle is one of those songs. It's a soca song that's transcended a lot of boundaries. I've heard it play everywhere from Hollywood to Spanish speaking countries and people love it just the same. 

3. Peter Ram and Vybz Kartell, “Woman By Side Remix" 2006

There are multiples types of soca music out there. When it comes to ragga soca— a fusion of Jamaican ragga and Trinidad soca— this song always gets me in sexy kind of mood. Every time I hear it on the road, I have to take a to wine to it. 

4. Arrow, "Hot Hot Hot" [1982]

Another classic for me that will always stand out because I was present in the studio with the musicians when it was made is Arrow's "Hot Hot Hot." I know Buster Pointdexter might have the more famous version, but if you listen to Arrow's original record you will know why every decade or so some car company uses it in a commercial. It's probably one of the best soca songs that made it in America.  

5. Rupee, “Jump” [2000]

Simply put: this is just one of those song that no matter where you go, a DJ will pull it out and it will work.

For more on Machel Montano's head-spinning roster of shows leading up to the West Indian Labor Day Parade, follow him on Twitter at @MachelMontanoHD.

From The Collection:

Sell Off
FADER Five: Machel Montano’s Wining-Worthy Soca Jams