Bigger than 25/8: Soca artiste Lyrikal —Photos courtesy the academy/ project vcd

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Lyrikal going ‘25/8’ for Carnival

By Essiba Small essiba.small@trinidadexpress.com

You’d think that Lyrikal only jumped out into the soca arena last year with 25/8. The song was so huge that it literally eclipsed every song he ever recorded. Do you remember ‘Ramajay’? How about ‘Hardwine’ and ‘All ova de girl’?

See?

“25/8 was my breakway hit” Lyrikal said .

He is dressed in all black - including the cap sitting on his dreadlocks and the nerd glasses.

 If you looked away for a minute you’d think you’re talking to the Viking – Bunji Garlin.

The comparison to Garlin is nothing new. The two – Lyrikal and Garlin – actually used to “vibes” in Lyrikal’s pre-soca days at his Brooklyn US home, both cut their teeth on reggae dancehall and are known for their ease in switching from the reggae/dancehall to soca. 

Last year 25/8 took Lyrikal to places in the Caribbean and other parts of the world that he never been too - so well-loved was the song. He was pleasantly surprised by the number of 25/8 parties that were held in Guyana he said.


Lyrikal attributed the success of the track to the die-hard Carnival lovers who always want to squeeze more out of the season than they were already getting.

“You go to a fete or boat ride and you look at your watch and it says three o’clock. You know that fete going to finish in the next hour but the fete so sweet you want it to go on for a few more hours.

“ I just used my imagination and came up with that song to capture that feeling.” 

His 2014 Carnival contribution Conquer Meh was also written from the standpoint of the reveller.

Already, the song is building to be as big or even bigger than 25/8.

The song was produced by the Brooklyn, US based GBM Productions - the same team responsible for Machel Montano’s ‘Bend over’ and Super Jigger TC’s (now Jaiga) ‘Action’ and ‘Speakerboxx’.

Lyrikal also has collaborations with Kerwin Dubois (Lockdown) and Nadia Batson (Loose).

The 29 year old who was born Devon Martin lived in Belmont , Gonzales and Bon Air Gardens before moving to the United States with his family.

He was working construction in the US when a career in soca music came a-calling.

“Soca chose me,” he said.

“When the recession hit in the US, my contract with the company ended and as things started slowing down with the construction, this career started picking up.

“Now this is full time for me - 25/8.” 

Following the success of the Shawn Da Mastamind Noel-produced ‘25/8’ and the massive reponse to ‘Conquer Meh’ Lyrikal believes that he may have found the hit-making formula.

“I love Carnival and I believe that writing about it from my heart enhances the songs I put out.”

He readily admits that last years hit and the eventually gig-overload took him by surprise but said this year he is prepared to ride the wave of gigs and the pace of the season.

“I started stocking up on my vitamins since last September.”

“Mentally I am also ready. You does have to have a kind of bad mine too to jump out ,” he joked.

Like last year Lyrikal will also try his luck with the Soca Monarch competition after he failed to make it to the finals- despite the popularity of the song.

“A lot of people said to me afterwards that they were surprised that I didn’t get in; but once my fans were satisfied I was cool.

“The most important thing is that I put my best food forward.”

Recently Lyrikal was criticised for his performance of ‘Conquer Meh’ at the Tribe ICE cooler fete after he invited two female patrons to join him on stage.


He now says it wasn’t the strongest part of his performance but that he took the criticism as constructive and will learn from his mistakes.

“It really wasn’t a planned part of my performance. I just wanted to show those two females love.”

After years of being told that he was destined to become a household name by people other than his family, Lyrikal is finally at a stage in his career where he is confident in himself. Don’t mistake that for arrogance however.

“I believe that part of being successful is being humble. The music industry is like a wave - one day it is up and the next day it is down. I mean I don’t want to be down - I want to be level.”

Lyrikal was grateful to the support of his parents and family who never threw negativity on his soca career along with his fans and the artistes he has collaborated with for the season.

In May he is expected to release a full album which is also be available on iTunes.

Even before that though, will be the release of his video for ‘Conquer Me’ at the end of the month and the ‘Lockdown’ video by the second week of February.

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