The Mix: 75 Essential Soca Hits With West Indian Carnival approaching, Jeanette "Duchess" Drew, host of WLRN's Sounds of the Caribbean, picks a diverse collection of powerfully rhythmic music.
NPR logo The Mix: 75 Essential Soca Hits

The Mix: 75 Essential Soca Hits

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Machel Montano is one of many Trinidad and Tobago artists featured in WLRN's soca mix. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Courtesy of the artist

Machel Montano is one of many Trinidad and Tobago artists featured in WLRN's soca mix.

Courtesy of the artist

Meet the DJ

Jeanette Drew of WLRN's "Sounds of the Caribbean." WLRN hide caption

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An uptempo style of music influenced by British, French and native Caribbean tribal rhythms, soca features rhythms deeply rooted in Asia and Africa. It was created especially for Carnival and played most frequently at Caribbean parties and dancehalls, and evolved from the Afro-Caribbean styles of benna and mento. While its cousin, calypso, maintains a slower pace and an emphasis on lyrics, the melodies of soca are there in part to draw listeners into the rhythms.

Today, as it continues to adapt to the influence of European and American pop music, soca remains a popular sound out of the Caribbean, mixing not only dancehall, chutney, cadence and rumba, but also zouk, R&B, hip-hop and even American country styles. Though some call it "soul of calypso," many celebrate soca for the way it bridges the different ethnic heritages, in a way that makes "SOCA" an acronym for both "sounds of the Caribbean" and "soul of the Caribbean."

Artists In This Mix

Alison Hinds • Alston Becket Cyrus • Andy Armstrong • Arrow • Atlantik • Baron • Biggie Irie • Bomani • Bunji Garlin • Burning Flames • Byron Lee And The Dragonaires • Colin Lucas • Crazy • Denise Belfon • Destra • Donella Weeks • Edwin Yearwood • Fab 5 • Fayann Lyons • Gyptian • Iwer George • Kenneth Salick • The Kes Band • Kevin Lyttle • Kimberly Innis • Kitchener • Krosfyah • Machel Montano • The Mighty Sparrow • Mr. Dale • The Mussington Brothers • Nigel & Marvin • Oungku & Red Hot Flames • Patrice Roberts • Problem Child • Rikki Jai • Rita Jones • Rootsman • Roy Cape • Rupee • Scrunter • Sean Caruth • Shami • Shandileer • Sheldon Douglas • Spice And Company • Square One • Super Blue • Surface • Swallow • Taxik • Tian Winter • Tony Prescott • Trencia 'TC' Coward • The Troubadours • Wck

Jeanette "Duchess" Drew hosts Sounds of the Caribbean for WLRN 91.3 FM in South Florida.