Various Artists

Jouvay 2000

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This 2000 carnival season compilation of songs related to Jouvay (Creole-ized from the French "j'ai ouvert" or "I've opened it"), the 4 a.m. daybreak of Carnival day when people parade in the city, coat themselves in mud or blue paint or whatever and generally go buck wild. The music is far more rapso than traditional calypso so it's not one of those quasi-official releases featuring this year's winning songs from Trinidad's various Carnival contests but Jouvay 2000 does suffer from its narrow range.

It's also kind of a calling card for 3 Canal, who are featured artists on four tracks and provide backing vocals on several others. It's their "Down The Road" that gets this carnival party started right with its rapped vocals, drum machine, keyboard melody, and paint-the-scene descriptive lyrics. Kindred's buoyant, horn-driven portrayal of a female festival-goer "Sharon Matie" falls closer to soca, like Gary Cordner's "Y2K Wine" with its millennial frolics theme while rapso godfather Brother Resistance advocates smoking herb with horns and nice funky scratch R&B rhythm guitar in the mix.

But mostly the drum machine keeps pushing the same beat hard at you, until you begin to look for breaks like the percussive vocalisms of the chorus phrase of Marka's "Rang-A Tang" or Patch & Ali's "Mud Up" lightening up the march a bit with keyboards. And 3 Canal's closing "Blue" and "Mud Madness" boast really strong hooks, the latter's a ghostly house keyboard that really digs deep and the former via synth horn lines and steel pan sounds.

But Jouvay 2000 is inevitably limited by its focus on the distinct Trinidad scene, especially in a year when rapso was still in the process of establishing itself as a new youth music style on the island. So, a good compilation that captures the festive one track mind of most carnival music but watch for duplications on other collections or discs by 3 Canal and Brother Resistance.

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