“Jab take orders from nobody,” reigning Calypso Monarch Terri Lyons sings in her new single, Jab Order.
The song was released last month and sits on the Shell Man riddim out of Grenada. Lil Natty and Thunda with Things Nice (Woi), Happy Boy with Bad Jab, Bubbah 473 with Vieux Corp Creed and Mystyk with Jab Love are the other artistes on the riddim.
The riddim, according to the blurb on YouTube video, was recorded as part of Jambalasee Grenada’s live sound sampling for last year’s J’Ouvert.
It added that the shell pattern of the jab jab connected many to their ancestors and the music needed to maintain its purity.
“Musical sampling of its core elements is one such way we can archive this,” the caption read. And this is where the Shell Man riddim comes in.
Lyons said she was invited in June to be a part of the project and was sent three riddims. It was written during the pandemic when jab jab masqueraders were being told that they could not play because the country was under lockdown.
“And they still came out and jab,” Lyons said.
The National Carnival Commission (NCC) website says the jab molassie or molasses devil is one of the oldest forms of devil mas. Its players usually wear wings, horns, a wire tail and carries a pitchfork.
The players are also usually covered in a sticky black substance which was molasses in the old days.
“Its origins date back to days of the sugar estates, when freed slaves, who formerly toiled on the sugar estates, daubed themselves with the familiar and readily available molasses (a direct by-product of sugar cane) as a means of disguising themselves and playing a cheap mas. Today, the jab molassie has evolved to include blue devils, red, green, white, yellow and even jabs covered in mud, and chocolate syrup,” it said.
For Lyons, the mas carries the spirit of resistance which was demonstrated during the pandemic.
Several articles on Grenadian news site, nowgrenada.com have headlines which read, “Jab Jabs defy carnival cancellation for second year.”
The article’s lead said despite the Grenadian Parliament approving the cancellation of carnival last year hundreds of people from various communities defied that order and played in Jab Jab J’Ouvert celebrations.
Lyons said this was part of the jab culture which told people, “we are in turmoil; you have to listen to us.
“If you are not going to listen to us, we are going to find a way for you to listen. We are going to flock the streets and make sure you listen to us. No matter how we do it, you are going to listen to us.”
This was Jab Order’s inspiration, she said.
“Jab orders that you listen to them. If you don’t listen to them, they are going to come out on the street and make sure that you listen to them.
“Without bothering anybody, they would stomp their feet. Make rhythm with their feet and voices. That is what they did, it did not have any big truck,” she said.
Jambalasee Grenada MuZik produced the song and it was mixed by Clint “Deva” Abraham and Ian Charles.
The song’s caption says Lyons reps for the jab jab world order and “echoes the rallying call of the jab jab regionally.
“Inspired by the images and video clips streaming live from Grenada during the unsanctioned J’Ouvert celebrations in 2021, Lyons said Grenada proved why it is considered to be the jab nation and exhibited to the world the resilience of the jab jab.”
Jab Order is one of five songs Lyons will be releasing for 2023.
“I am planning to release three soca songs and two calypso songs for the season. Once I do the soca, I have to do the calypso,” she said.
It has been great being back performing on stages across the world since pandemic restrictions were lifted, Lyons said. She has been to New York, other parts of the US and other Caribbean islands since the restrictions were lifted.
“All of that energy built up from the two years is just sleeping, eating, seating. It was great being back out. Recording. Touring. Performing in shows and having contact with people still, but with precautions.”
For Lyons, it was also great being out and earning as an entertainer again. During pandemic restrictions, Lyons spoke about some the challenges entertainers faced.
“At the end of the day, this is our jobs. It is really about taking care of our livelihoods: paying bills just like everyone else,” she added.
Not only is she looking forward to Carnival 2023 but the upcoming Tobago Carnival in October. She plans to participate.
“Some agreements are happening right now. And we are just anticipating, everyone is anticipating, this is Tobago’s first Carnival and it is going to be magnificent.”
Lyons' fans and all of Trinidad and Tobago can look forward to her defending her crown in 2023.
Even though the restrictions created challenges for the entertainers and the industry, the easement has created a hunger among the partying population which Lyons considers to be positive.
“The only thing I find different after the pandemic is that people are hungrier for the music. Like before, you may have to work extra hard. For the two years that they have been down, they missed it. They are coming out. They want to enjoy themselves, whether I sing soca or calypso,” she said.
Lyons was hired for soca fetes outside of TT and yet the crowd would ask her to sing her calypsoes as they were “hungry for it.”
“That is the only thing that has changed. So it has changed for the better. People are more appreciative of what they have not been getting for the last two years.”