J'Ouvert is art: M1 stays true to Dutty Business
CARNIVAL is special for many different reasons.
The colour and splendour of pretty mas under golden sunshine on Carnival Tuesday is something to behold.
But for soca artiste Sherwin "M1" Jeremiah, aka Menace, J'Ouvert is the ultimate experience and "the Carnival before the Carnival."
For 2023, the Sangre Grande singer is again paying homage to the early-morning revelry with his song Dutty Business, on the Dutty Truck Riddim.
Known for J'Ouvert hits such as Trouble When De Sun Rise, released in 2015, M1 told Newsday this part of the annual festival holds special significance to him.
"To see how people just come together – it's a kinda doh-care vibe. We doh have no shame and no pride, like ah put in the song. It is not pretty mas. It's powder and mud and all kinda thing," he said.
M1 recently released a video for the song, filmed at Majestic Gardens, Sangre Grande.
In an opening monologue, M1 declares, "J'Ouvert is culture, J'Ouvert is art, and when yuh hear the J'Ouvert bell ring yuh know de Carnival start. So lemme take yuh on ah journey, come and witness. It eh no stush thing yuh know. Is J'Ouvert. Is Dutty Business."
He said the video shoot brought people from all over the country in a J'Ouvert party from midday to midnight.
"It was real fun. We bring rhythm section.We went by the mud volcano down south side and get we mud."
M1 credited his deceased aunt for his love of J'Ouvert.
"J'Ouvert always been something special to me. My aunt, RIP, she passed away a couple years ago, she used to take me from by my mom, who never really liked Carnival, for the full weekend to go and sell (in Grande). She had a cart and used to sell orange, pholourie, sugar cake for Carnival.
"She bring meh out to help them and I get a chance to experience it first hand. They will be out from Carnival Sunday straight to Ash Wednesday. We used to be hustling, pick up bottle around the town for them to sell and that kinda vibe."
He said being around the J'Ouvert culture from nine years old gave him a deep appreciation for the celebration and the freedom associated with it.
"I never really play big mas but I always play J'Ouvert. Yuh does see how it does build. It's like the first Carnival before the Carnival. People coming out in their lil groups. By 2am yuh seeing more crowd. By 3am people coming out with their lil (customised) T-shirts – that really special to me. It was my experience and it always stay with me."
Dutty Business was produced by Chainlinxxx Production, led by Sharde "Spec" Homer and Richie "Bones" Nelson. M1 said he decided to be an ambassador and reached out to his friends. Bunji Garlin, Swappi, Dloxx, Mr Bessor all have songs on the riddim.
Another of M1's six Carnival 2023 songs that has been getting good reviews is All Yours, on the Port of Spain riddim. The groovy hit, which showcases M1's vocal versatility, discusses the difficulty of maintaining a healthy relationship while also balancing work commitments.
"Yuh know ah always on the street,
Always on the beat,
Always on the move,
Looking for the food,
Many time ah leave yuh,
Ah know you alone,
Nuff time I fly out, cyah ketch yuh home,
Sometimes yuh vex when ah get so busy,
This relationship not easy, But tonight is just you and me.
Tonight I'm all yours. all yours,
Tonight I'm all yours. all yours (me nah go nowhere),
All yours, all yours,
Lewwe do ah something, do ah something, lewwe do ah something.
Asked if the song was written for someone personal, M1 chuckled before acknowledging that parts of the song related to his life but insisted that "the song is for anyone who feels that way about someone in their life."
He added, "Anybody who have that special somebody in their life that they care about. Yuh see this weekend I ain't going anywhere. This is your special treat. Anything is up to you."
M1 said he is thankful for the season he has been having so far.
"Not bad, could always be better, but I grateful for the things that happening. I got a lot of ground work done and creating a lot of buzz and vibe. I'm holding my vibe and pushing, the season ain't over yet. I'm thinking about the couple weeks to come and travelling after."
Asked if he considers himself underrated, M1 said, "I consider myself to be one of the best there is in the game, with a lot of offerings still to come. I ain't think they see the best of me yet."
He said he has always put out quality music and his fans have always stuck with him.
He said many of them believe he does not get the respect he fully deserves.
Like other soca artistes, M1 said the pandemic was a rough period but he recalls even 2019 being a tough year for him.
"I remember not having a paying gig. That year I came out with six songs, and one or two they playing, treating it rough. That was the first time for a J'Ouvert I did not have a show. It was real dread and then the lockdown come."
M1 said he never stopped producing music during the lockdown and even released videos.
"Yuh have to stay relevant. I went to England last year for Notting Hill Carnival. From there, things just started to build and here we is today with some real positive vibes."
He said J'Ouvert this year is expected to be exciting with request for bookings from at least five locations across the country.
He said he will get the party started with his own J'Ouvert party at Majestic Gardens on Sunday night before heading to his gigs to start the dutty business.
"J’Ouvert is art: M1 stays true to Dutty Business"