Machel Montano Spices-up Cohobblopot For Crop Over 2008
Bajan Reporter gave the blogosphere his opinion on the bubbling hot controversy which is simmering in the Cohobblopot – see link Caribbean Integration Hypocrisy – Red Hot Controversy? How can extra coverage and sharing of knowledge be detrimental to Barbadian calypso? Choopse!, we agree with a lot of what he wrote. However some additional things can be said.
One of the key feature events on the Crop Over calendar is Cohobblopot. It has historically been produced by the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), except on one occasion to represent a potpourri of Barbadian culture. The event has suffered its highs and lows through the years. In recent times the lows have been coming all too regular for a myriad of reasons. There is no doubt that the lack of management talent at the NCF, combined with inconsistent performance by local entertainers along with regular doses of controversy have dogged the major event.
The latest controversy sparked by the participation of Soca Superstar Machel Montano we have viewed from several viewpoints.
1. Should foreign acts participate in the main events which comprise our Crop Over festival? If it was not bad tolerating Montano some local opinion has not taken kindly to the two North American rappers Lil Jon and Pitbull contracted by Montano performing tonight either.
2. Should local entertainers be paid on par with the foreign acts? It has been reported that Montano is being paid BDS30,000.00 plus BDS10,000.00 in expenses. Additionally David Rudder and Patrice Roberts, two other T&T entertainers are being paid BDS40,000.00 between them. In contrast the local acts have been embarrassed to discuss their financial arrangements.
The BU household is sensitive to the nationalistic argument which promotes the position that it is a local festival and therefore local talent should be given exclusive billing. The question whether Machel Montano should be paid the performance fee of BDS40,000.00 is open to debate but on what basis? What is the yardstick the critics are using? The fact that there is no local act which can command the interest which Montano enjoys must be the overriding factor. More importantly can the local acts command the interest which Montano and crew have been generating? We think not! Remember that the NCF has to pay the bills!
To those who have questioned Lil Jon and Pitbull’s (North American rappers) billing on the Cohobblopot Show, again this is debatable. Machel Montano has responded to the critics that he is paying the rappers fees to participate and not the NCF. He has also been cluing in Barbadians in many of his interviews, the logic of his decision. Montano has a vision to establish soca on the world stage. One of the strategies he has been using is to perform with popular American acts. He hopes that the interaction will spark interest in soca in the mega-American market. To Montano’s credit he is not happy to compartmentalize his role as a soca artist in the Trinidad and regional space.
The BU household holds the view that Machel Montano’s entry to Crop Over is to be viewed as positive, soca and reggae are music genres which are indigenous to the Caribbean. While reggae has made the leap, soca continues to be trapped within the small Caribbean space. Montano is the biggest exponent of the soca vibe and all the soca artistes in the Caribbean should welcome Montano to their respective carnivals. He has suggested that his vision is to infect all the Caribbean festivals with the sweetness of soca music which he hopes will lead to a strengthening of the bond between the islands. It is something which the politicians have failed to do. The relationship he has forged with international artistes is the bridge which he is hoping will help soca to make the breakthrough.
If Montano is successful in realizing his vision for soca wouldn’t all the Caribbean soca artistes benefit? The success of our local soca entertainers whether they appreciate it or not is tied to the success of Montano achieving his vision. Participation in our local festival seems a small price to pay to move the local music industry forward.
The caretakers of our music industry and by extension the Crop Over is in need of an overhaul. We would go further to suggest that our Crop Over should be managed as part of a strategy which should separate the promotion of culture and the commercial element. There is no relationship between the two. We are not sure that the NCF is currently staffed with the human and financial resources to do the job.