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Building a Musical EMPIRE

By Michael Mondezie

MEET the young architects of Soca Kingdom. It’s takes a legion to forge an empire.

Even one built of soca. And while soca generals Machel Montano and SuperBlue (Austin Lyons) stand on the frontlines instructing their soca armies to ‘charge ahead’, their young strategists behind the ‘Soca Kingdom’ look on with keen interest.

Twenty-year-old writer Prince Pronto ( Joseph Figueroa) and producer Travis World (Travis Hosein), 22, are in dreamland. They have singlehandedly orchestrated perhaps the greatest soca collaboration of all time and sit on the cusp of securing the ultimate validation: a most coveted Road March title.

‘It’s a new feeling to me because I never had a song that was in the Road March battle and it’s the first time I’ve seen the whole country make such a big deal for a song,’ Hosein told the Sunday Mix on Wednesday.

The self-taught DJ-cum-soca-remixmaster said he’s lost track of the massive social media reactions to the song, but isn’t getting ahead of himself just yet as he believes the Road March race will be close.

‘I couldn’t keep up with social media. I mean it’s a historic collab, but it actually brought back an excitement for the culture in a sense because this year we actually have three big songs running up.

‘Past three years there was always that one song you know was gonna be Road March. We are confident about ‘Soca Kingdom’ but at the same time, I won’t call it because you never know what can happen,’ he said.

Pronto, meanwhile, said he started formulating the melodies and lyrics to ‘Soca Kingdom’ a year ago.

‘It actually began after last year Carnival. Travis sent me the instrumental. I was in the studio alone and I started to mumble melodies and the concept came along,’ he revealed.

The young Princes Town-born singer/songwriter said it was not until November last year when Travis followed up on the song that he pulled it off the shelf and started developing it further.

‘He said he wanted Boy (Machel) to hear it and I looked at it again and the rest of the song came. By the next day it was done. But it was not until coming down into January when we started to swap out verses and then Monk and Blue did their finishing touches,’ he added with a laugh.

‘I am Prince Pronto so ‘Kingdom’ is really my expression. My view of how I will navigate the soca empire as a young artiste. That’s what’s drove the whole concept of the song,’ Pronto added.

Meet SuperBlue

Pronto said soca legend SuperBlue challenged him to look wider than his

own personal scope and see the Kingdom as the entire soca fraternity.

‘Super came in he was saying look at the whole fraternity, the Diaspora, everyone who loves soca music. That’s the real Kingdom. I saw it immediately,’ Pronto said.

Travis World also recalled the day SuperBlue walked into studio. Not only was he super excited to work with the iconic soca man, but he was also completely blown away that Super actually knew him and his work. ‘It’s funny because when Super walked in and Machel introduced me he actually knew who I was and my music. I was shocked, to be honest, but they are both very cool and understanding also interested in what the youth have to offer so it wasn’t like their way or no way, we all had equal say in the project,’ he recalled.

A week earlier the San Fernando-born producer worked with Montano on the Jelani ‘Pops’ Shaw-written ‘Doh Play Dat’. He said contrary to what people may think working with Montano is a breeze.

‘While the recording is a very long process it’s also very easy. It just takes time when he’s trying to perfect the vocals: he will basically sit and listen to one line over and over and change any little flaw in each word. It’s still a chill vibe though; no pressure. Once you have patience and know what you are doing I think a session with Machel is a breeze,’ he said.

Pronto, meanwhile, said all through the recording process he could feel something special was happening.

‘I felt like I was contributing to soca history in a small way. It’s a very humbling thing to be quite honest. To get advice and mentorship from the best and to have them come together and recognise young talent and say we could curate and cultivate it. It’s a special thing. They are looking to the younger ones and it’s a validation of our talent,’ he said.

Travis said his personal vision is to create a career in the vein of American pop star DJ Khaled (Khaled Mohamed Khaled). The New Orleans-born super producer features prominently on the tracks and music videos of the songs he produces.

‘I always set goals and well I have like a musical bucket list. Road March is something on that list and I got the opportunity to go for it so I’m aiming for that at the moment. But my overall goal is to build up a catalogue to head back out in a DJ world as a DJ/producer something like what DJ Khaled and Major Lazer is doing, but for soca/Caribbean influenced music,’ he concluded.

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