Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin are two of soca's biggest stars and former rivals, so "Buss Head," their new collaborative single, is a tectonic event for the genre. The song hints at what may have brought them together: a love for the heritage of Trinidad & Tobago, specifically Kalinda, a centuries old martial art native to the country.
The video, premiering today on The FADER, is a fast-paced montage directed by Jerome Guiot. We follow a troubled youth who starts fights with his neighbours and acts out, before Montano and Garlin train him to channel the anger into Kalinda. "The 'Buss Head' video pays tribute to this rich history, while acknowledging the current state of violence facing our nation," Montano told The FADER over email. "Practicing a martial art, like Kalinda, allows one to channel and transform their energy and aggression into something positive, which promotes discipline, spirituality, and self-actualization."
Kalinda isn't just for sparring, though. It's been used to fend off colonialism once before, as Garlin told us: "The stick fighters ended up with the most important role, as in 1884 a British contingent tried to abolish Carnival in Trinidad, but they were defeated by the stick fighters. It translates into my story and your story and everyone's story, because we all have that battle to face to save something."
This year, Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin will play Caribana in Toronto, Crop Over in Barbados, the Notting Hill Festival in London, Labor Day in NYC, and Miami Carnival.
Thumbnail photo by Che Kothari