Darryl “Farmer Nappy” Henry loves basketball and the NBA. So he likens his songs to hall of famers. He has already placed his 2019 Hookin Meh among his musical hall of famers along with Big People Party, My House and Technically.
The song sits on the producing duo De Red Boyz’s Purple Heart riddim. The riddim features Farmer Nappy’s Hookin Meh and fellow soca artiste Nadia Batson’s So Long. Batson wrote both.
Over the years, Batson and Farmer Nappy have built not only a strong working relationship but a friendship. He regards her as “his little sister” and “the best soca female writer.” The relationship has initiated such hits as Loosen De Chain, Technically, Wifey and now Hookin’ Meh.
While making Hookin Meh, Nappy realised the music was “too sweet for just one song” – so he did not hesitate to invite Batson to ride the riddim with him. Bajan soca artiste Edwin Yearwood was also invited to sing on the riddim, but Nappy and his team did not get a reply.
Like some of his mentors, among them Chris “Tambu” Herbert and Burning Flames’ Clarence "Oungku" Edwards, he opens Hookin Meh with the cry, “Tune,” something he often heard them say when they were doing a “slow groove.”
Since its release Farmer Nappy has been asked if he feels this is his best song. He does not have an answer for that.
“To me Chippin’ (With Meh Own Woman) was the song that broke me out as a solo artiste. Big People Party gave me like a manlihood where I got endorsement with the song. Now Hookin Meh come and I can’t answer that question. But to me it looking like it can become bigger than Big People Party,” he said.
Farmer Nappy has been told Hookin Meh is reminiscent of Kevin Lyttle’s 2003 hit Turn Me On. Where Turn Me On came from and where it reached is what he has been looking for throughout his career, he added.
From Panasonic Express to Xtatik, Farmer Nappy has created many "hall of famers", being the writer of hits like Footsteps and Music Farm.
He's now the CEO of Country Life Music, his own recording label. The also popular 2019 hit Day One, featuring Machel Montano, was done on both recording labels Monk Music and Country Life Music.
While he credits De Red Boyz (Mikey Hulsmeier and Scott Galt) for teaching him about the business, it was not always smooth sailing. He thanked Katrina Chandler, his manager, as the person behind all his music.
He recalled, before the success of Chippin’, being in Barbados, making a mistake and then butting heads with Machel.
“And I said certain things and he said certain things and I did not perform that night. And in Tobago I did not perform the next night but I went to Tobago with them.
“I came back and two days after was my birthday and I started crying and saying, 'Time for me to do something new.' And she (Katrina Chandler) said, 'Don’t worry.' She knew me from Music Farm and Footsteps days and thing.”
Chandler then introduced him to the Red Boyz because “Mikey from the Red Boyz is her cousin.”
Although Galt has taught Farmer Nappy the business “where nobody could come around me with the fine points in the business and fool me,” when they were first introduced, “Scott Galt said he did not know me, he just knew me as a background singer with Machel, as people used to claim I was a background singer...and he said they recording big artistes.”
But, he said, Mikey told Galt to give him an opportunity. It was from this Chippin’ was born.
“When I came with Chippin’ in 2007, it became real big in Barbados, where it crossed over to TT. De Red Boyz are responsible for people respecting me. A lot of people did not have respect for me because I am a 17-year recovering alcoholic,” he said.
During his battle with alcoholism, he believes he was “creating some of the sweetest music like Footsteps, Hard Working Dog. I was a big instrument in Xtatik’s writing.”
When he stopped drinking, Farmer Nappy did not think he could ever write a song again. Then Chippin’ came.
When he did Chippin’, he paid for the track, he then realised he wanted to pay so that he could “own half of the master or own the master, because I did not know the business.”
But at that time, they did not want to share the master (the original recording) with him, he said.
“They wanted some royalties on the song. We went to court over Chippin’, Katrina and myself battling Mikey and Scott.
“The next year, they did not record me...”
He and the De Red Boyz were "warring" for about two years, until Mikey's and Katrina’s great-grandmother got involved and said, “No, allyuh know Nappy, and Nappy is like family, you all. You all have to mend this.”
So Nappy and De Red Boyz met and talked it over. “I apologised to them for the mistake I made and they apologised to me. I started singing Flirt to them...”
He was first recording it by another producer but Red Boyz loved it and instead he took it to them, though he paid to own his master.
“I am saying this for young artistes to understand. A lot of artistes are singing on riddims and performing...and when you done sing you don’t own that record.
He was once told, “Own your master, because your master is like your deed.” He has since paid for all of his masters, he said.
He's now had a 13-year, working relationship with De Red Boyz. Farmer Nappy calls them the "Colonel recipe."
Nappy also credits the Montanos (Liz, Winston and Machel) for playing a major role in his life. In fact, he credits Machel for being the turning point in his fight against alcoholism.
“How you know yourself is who you associate with. I met Machel at the age of seven. He was five, and I grow up all my life with him.
"He saw me crashing himself. And he sat underneath the tree by Neil Bernard and said, ‘You crashing yourself, and in order for you to continue working with me, you have to go and fix yourself.'
“A lot of people said I got fired from the band, but I went.”
He also thanked an ex-girlfriend and her family for helping him fight alcoholism.
“I went AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings and stuff. Gabrielle De La Rosa, she is very important – that is my ex-girlfriend, whose parents were high in the church. She saw I was crashing myself too and her parents went and took me to AA meetings.”
But he still drank beer, until he had an alcoholic blackout (he was conscious but did not know what he was doing) and that was what led him to change.
Now when Farmer Nappy goes through duty-free he buys alcohol and people can come by him and have a drink, but it does not bother him.
“I watch that in a little corner and I watch the rest of what I have and that is just small there,” he said.
Farmer Nappy wants to share his life story and experience with schoolchildren.
Although some people have criticised Hookin' Meh, saying it incites possessiveness and is somewhat controlling, he says it's far from that. He said the song is about a man begging a woman to stay, but is willing to go peacefully if she does not want him to stay.
“If you want me to go, I will go. I begging you still. As the hook line, says, 'You done hook me already, could it be your cute pretty face. Could be the oil on your waist...Yes I made a mistake, don’t condemn me but if you want me to go I will go.'”
Apart from Hookin Meh, he has also released So Amazing with Jamaican saxophonist Dean “Canon” Fraser and the power soca tune Abandon.
Knowing what it takes in the soca industry, he is now calling TT to support younger bands like Batson’s Sass and Olatunji “Ola” Yearwood.
“We need to support every artiste that does something positive.”
And for Carnival, he is asking all those going partying to have a designated driver.