REFLECTING on his introduction to the local music industry, Samraj "Rikki Jai" Jaimungal felt a strong urge to return to where he began – soca.
With 12 different chutney soca titles to his name, he wanted to remind everyone that he's not limited to that sub-genre.
He told Newsday: "When I looked at the time that passed, I said, 'You know, I am really a soca survivor.'"
This is how the idea for his 2023 Road March contender, featuring KMC, titled Socavivor was born.
The fast-paced, harmonious power soca track was produced by Bjorn "The KVG" Graham and Mevon "XplicitMevon" Soodeen.
It was also composed by Graham, Soodeen, Rikki Jai and Ken Marlon Charles (KMC), and features additional production from Robert SN Baptiste, Trini-baby, Ryan "RAIOH" Waldron and ZIGBOI Productions. The live guitars were done by Kenny Phillips.
This song was initially penned before the covid19 pandemic and was saved for just the right moment, which was Carnival 2023 – the "mother of all Carnivals."
Rikki Jai told Newsday, "It's a song I started to write about myself being someone who started in soca music...I found myself in a place where people were just referring to me as the chutney soca man the chutney king, and some of the soca work I was putting out was kind of flying over people's heads. So I wanted to change that mindset and come full circle from where I started."
When he first sent a voice note with the song idea to Graham, he said, the producer "jumped into the studio immediately and he created a draft."
Graham told Newsday he really liked the concept of the song, which he views as representing the "sustenance and resilience of an industry beyond the pestilence, and also the survival of these artistes throughout their long, illustrious careers."
But in addition to this, Jaimungal said it speaks to the survival of an industry and culture throughout the covid19 pandemic.
Some of the lyrics include lines like: "Let we own this stage and fete like is we last, watch how we playing mas," and "We can't stop 'cause we are 'socavivors.'"
He reached out to several of his colleagues to add elements to the song, noting that he's all for teamwork and not a "do-every-single thing-for-yourself" kind of guy.
The track features background vocals by John Michael Thomas and the Liberty Chorale and The Israel Boys. In addition, crowd background vocals were done by Soodeen, Graham and Rikki Jai, as well as Wesley Charles.Vocal production was done by Geiron Mang, Trini-baby and Track$hon.
Rikki Jai told Newsday winning the Road March, as well as Calypso Monarch, have always been two dreams of his. He said he is expecting positive feedback from the public, adding that he has a "solid name in the industry.
"I have one firm belief that a good song is a good song and it really don't matter if I'm an ageing artiste or a young artiste."
He added that the late, iconic calypsonian The Mighty Shadow won (Road March in 2001) with his song Stranger "and he was already 60...
"Age has nothing to do with a really great song."
Graham said it took around nine months to capture the "perfect vibe" they were all aiming for, and he now feels fulfilled and proud of the team.
It was mixed and mastered by Nathaniel Pollard, with additional engineering done by Johann Seaton and Kasey Phillips.
It was recorded at ARC Studios in New York, US, MANG Studios, and Xia Studios.
KMC told Newsday the entire team went "all the way out" on the track, which was a "very high-budget one.
"The song itself is a very well written song, very wicked and ready for the road."
He added that it was the title of the song that piqued his interest.
"To me, it is about a man who in the soca business, whether he's a fan or in the business, that went through the ups and downs and win the battle."
Socavivor can be found on YouTube and all streaming platforms.