Various Artists

Soca Gold 2003

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Once regulated to a couple of months of carnival festivities and holiday parties, soca music has evolved to a level where it's played all year round, regardless of the occasion. This makes compilations like Soca Gold 2003 even more significant, since the year's Carnival's hits will typically go on to dominate the charts later on. Soca Gold 2003 provides great examples of what is hot in the genre. The 18-track disc strongly reflects the trend of mixing soca with dancehall and R&B. Although the straight-ahead, hyper-rhythms of traditional soca are well represented by hits such as the ecstatic "Display" by Invasion and the wicked "Power Drill" by Burning Flames, the standouts are the hybrids. "By the Bar" booms with scorching soca beats and stylish dancehall chatting by the Three Suns and "Wine and Bend Over" pairs soca stalwart Denise Belfon with Ghetto Flex for a tasty mix of sexy vocals and rough rapping. Perhaps the real highlight of Soca Gold 2003 is "Tempted to Touch" by Rupee. The tune displays a contagious and accessible concoction of R&B and soca that has Rupee, a long-time soca star, poised to break out with this signature style.

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