Machel Montano on his new movie "Bazodee" and what soca can teach the worldYou've heard soca in songs by Justin Bieber and Drake, now meet the man bringing the sound to the masses.
Aug 9, 2016

Soca star Machel Montano's first feature film, Bazodee, is being described as a soca musical, but that's a tad simplistic. Derived from a French term meaning "to be crazy in love," it's the story of an Indian woman set to marry a wealthy Londoner when she encounters local singer Lee de Leon (Montano). Now she must decide between the life set out for her and the possibility of true love. It's set in Trinidad amid the backdrop of Carnival, and it's just one more way the king of soca is introducing the genre to the entire world.

Montano likens the film to Jimmy Cliff's The Harder They Come, which did for reggae what he hopes Bazodee will do for soca.

Bazodee - Official Movie Trailer (2016)
machelmontanomusic

"I think it's important to embrace each other's culture," Montano told REVOLT. "Especially in the Caribbean, we were brought from Africa, we were brought from India, we were brought from all over and we live there as a tight-knit community. So now we reaching back out, and the sounds are all related to each other. One day we'll wake up and we'll all be dancing to one beat."

To understand Montano's passion for embracing other cultures, you have to know that it's been in his musical DNA from the beginning. He started out singing calypso as a kid, and was an opening act before a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden at age 9. Back then, however, reggae and hip-hop were popular, and he briefly considered switching his style. But, Montano told REVOLT, he realized had a duty not to abandon his culture but to adapt the sound to broaden its appeal. He reached out to different genres. He performed with artists like Shaggy, Pitbull, Beenie Man and Doug E. Fresh — and now he's still at the forefront of collaboration. Just this year he's worked with Afrobeat artists Timaya and Wizkid. And his song with Major Lazer and Ariana Grande was a global hit, opening the way for a Coachella set.

"The different musics of the world are starting to converge on each other," he said. "You're listening to dancheall; you're hearing soca in it. You're listening to soca; you'll hear dancehall because that's where we mixed it. But now we on the top of the charts and we're hearing soca in songs like Justin Bieber's "Sorry," Drake's "One Dance," Rihanna "Work" — you can hear the Caribbean influence, you can feel it."

9 songs to jumpstart your Afrobeat addiction

And Montano, who headlined Drake's OVO Fest in Toronto this July, doesn't mind when the mainstream artists incorporate soca into their music. "When we hear Justin Bieber reaching or the producers and the writers reaching out and dipping into Caribbean music it's because they're saying hello. They're saying, 'We come in peace,'" he said. "And now we now have to reach back to them and talk. ... The only way to spread that sound is to converse with each other, is to interact, so for me there's no stealing, there's no crossing over, there's only conversation and only relationship, and I think it's healthy because it's unity."

Machel Montano - I Forget (Official Music Video)
machelmontanomusic

Above all, soca's themes of unity and love are what Montano wants to promote. It's a music for coming together and celebrating life, no matter what you have going on. When asked what American culture specifically can learn from the music, Montano explained: "We have so many challenges right now like gun violence, Black Lives Matter, police brutality. Soca music can really celebrate getting to know each other. ... Soca music is all about let's look for the good, so let's look beyond the struggle."

Watch REVOLT'S entire interview with Montano below:

Real Talk | Machel Montano is bringing soca to the world in his new film "Bazodee"
Revolt
RelatedReal Talk | Machel Montano is bringing soca to the world in his new film "Bazodee"The soca king tells REVOLT that one day the world will all be dancing to one beat.RevoltKanye West addresses Taylor Swift at Drake show, covers Harper's Bazaar with Kim"I'm so glad my wife has Snapchat."Ralph BristoutDrake Breaks Hot 100 Record With 20 Charting SongsThe rapper also scores his first No. 1 as a solo artist.Jayson RodriguezInterview | Trinidad JamesThe ATL rapper on going indie, collaborations and his comeback.Revolt1Everything there is to know about Eminem's new album Guess who's (coming) back, back again?2'Drink Champs' | WyclefEarly Fugees days, "Wild Thoughts" royalties, political aspirations, and more.3The 2017 Black Girls Rock! Red CarpetWe catch up with Issa Rae, India.Arie, and more.4'The Breakfast Club' |  Maxine WatersHow she got into politics and deals with Trump.5Interview | 'Detroit' cast John Boyega, Jason Mitchell, and more on the movie's parallels to modern day.6'Drink Champs' | Bun B on why JAY-Z & Pimp C collabo didn't happen soonerBoils down to stubbornness.7Interview | Ugly God"This my first professional anything," he says about debut project.8Zoey Dollaz, Haiti's favorite sonFrom Port Au Prince with love.9Revisiting the road to Drake and The Weeknd's long-awaited joint albumOVOXO.10'Drink Champs' | Bun B says UGK and Three 6 Mafia almost made a supergroupA great "what if" story.