This is your Soca primer - a place to start for people new to calypso music. Soca, Calypso, and Reggae music all come from the Caribbean but are very different.


Soca music has evolved like all other music over the years, with calypsonians experimenting with other Caribbean rhythms.

Some examples are the following:

Bashment soca, also known as "dancehall soca", is a subgenre of soca which originated in Barbados. This variation of soca is geared towards young partygoers. Unlike soca, which is generally seen as jump and wave music, Bashment soca is a jump and whine music. The bashment in Bashment soca is used to illustrate the energy in its delivery and performance.

Ragga soca is a fusion of soca and the former artistic lyrical delivery of Jamaican artists known as "dubbing". It is dancehall and contemporary calypso, which has an uptempo beat with moderate bass and electronic instruments.

Parang soca or soca parang is a combination of calypso, soca, Venezuelan and Latin music. It originated in Trinidad and is most often sung in Spanish.


Calypso is a style of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago during the early to mid-20th century and spread to the rest of Caribbean Antilles and Venezuela. Its rhythms can be traced back to West African Kaiso and the arrival of French planters and their slaves from the French Antilles in the 18th century. Calypso drew upon African and French influences. It was characterized by highly rhythmic and harmonic vocals.


Reggae developed from ska and rocksteady in the 1960s. Larry And Alvin’s ‘Nanny Goat’ and the Beltones’ ‘No More Heartaches’ competed for the status of first reggae record. The beat was distinctive from rocksteady in that it dropped any of the pretensions to the smooth, soulful sound that characterized slick American R&B, and instead was closer in kinship to US southern funk, being heavily dependent on the rhythm section to drive it along.Reggae’s great advantage was its almost limitless flexibility: from the early, jerky sound of Lee Perry’s ‘People Funny Boy’, to the uptown sounds of Third World’s ‘Now That We’ve Found Love’, it was an enormous leap through the years and styles, yet both are instantly recognizable as reggae.


The most influential single factor on the culture of Trinidad and Tobago is Carnival. Carnival was brought to Trinidad by French settlers in the latter part of the eighteenth century. Originally the celebration was confined to the elite, but it was imitated and adapted by their slaves and, after the abolition of slavery in 1834 the practice spread into the free population.
Until World War II most of these masqueraders portrayed traditional characters including the Midnight Robber, Police and Thief, Wild Indian, Bat, Jab Molassie, Jab Jab, Red Devil, Blue Devil, and Dame Lorraine. The wartime presence of American soldiers (and war movies) added the Sailor Mas’.

In the postwar period the individuals gave way to organised bands, which today can include thousands of masqueraders. Peter Minshall is often considered the greatest mas’ designer.
J'ouvert or Jouvay is at the heart of Trinidad carnival, and is also celebrated in other Eastern Caribbean islands. The name J'ouvert originates from the French jour ouvert, meaning day break or morning, and signals the start of the bacchanalia that is Carnival.

Jouvert is highly traditional and full of symbols culture and heritage. It is steeped in tradition and playing mud mas involves participants known as Jab Jabs. covering themselves – from head to toe - and others in paint, chocolate, mud, white powder or anything for that matter.
It is Jouvert custom that no one is clean, and a common site to see a newcomer being hugged by a muddy revelers.