WINSTON "GYPSY" PETERS comfortably cruised to victory to win the extempo calypso crown on Wednesday night at the Kaisorama Show at Kaiso House at Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain.
He topped a field of eight, who included five past extempo monarchs, but no female contestants this year.
While many others struggled and spluttered, Peters made it look easy, with a smooth flow of words that actually made sense to convey his arguments.
He is a past multiple winner, having won the extempo crown most recently in 2010, 2016 and 2017. He is also a former national calypso monarch.
Watching the show was a small but very appreciative audience, including President Christine Kangaloo and her husband Kerwyn Garcia.
The extempo contest was held alongside a freestyle contest – easily won by Anthony "Squeezy Rankin'" La Fleur – which involved a very fast-paced delivery of improvised ragga-style party tunes. Some commentators said the freestyle show energised the whole event and was just as alluring to spectators as the extempo.
Myron "Calypso Nite" Bruce kicked off the soloist first round of extempo, singing on the topic Too Many Cars on the Road. While he had a good stage presence, at times he laboured to squeeze in his words, and came across as merely competent.
Phillip "Black Sage" Murray, in all white, was exceptional. Singing on the topic Why Gypsy still Competing?, Murray was very comfortable onstage. With a very clear pattern of thought, matched by a very smooth flow of words, he had a great round one and was keenly applauded by the audience.
Hezekiah Joseph sang next, on the recent theme of an impolite WPC: So You Don't Know Where the Station is?
Nyol Manswell – the only contestant entering both extempo and freestyle contests – sang on the theme White-Collar Criminals.
Next was Peters singing on Inshan Ishmael and Cro Cro, where he sided with the calypsonian against the businessman, saying, "I telling you this thing/Forget Inshan/Cro Cro, boy, go and sing!"
Dione Diaz told the Prime Minister to stick around to fix issues like crime, on the topic Imagine Mr Rowley is on Vacation.
Brian London was amusing as he inserted a very fast rap delivery into his extempo to make his point on How Trinidadians Give Directions.
Joseph "Lingo" Vautor La Placeliere delivered smooth lyrics but disjointed thought patterns on: Is Camouflage Still Illegal?
Round two, an elimination, saw Murray versus Bruce singing on The Art of Double Entendre.
Then came Peters against Manswell on the topic Dimanche Gras, Who You Backing?
Murray was cool and calm, "Kitch was good in rhyme/When he told us a mountain he had to climb/But Mighty Sparrow gave us a treat/When he told us all saltfish sweet." He then got personal. "This fellow Myron B he taking a chance/He come here tonight in a tight, tight pants."
But then Murray himself seemingly took a chance, using the purported tightness of his rival's pants to make a quip about sexuality.
He then likened Bruce to the "piece of pork" referred to in the soca parang hit by Irwin "Scrunter" Reyes Johnson.
Bruce hit back, in one of his best lines of the night, on Murray's all-white attire.
"Now when it comes to pig it is clear to see/One of us looking a little oinky/I am telling you please, hear me quite clear/This looking like a white little pig right here."
The other extempo war saw an utterly masterful Peters against Manswell, who bravely persevered in his delivery amid some patchiness.
On the topic of Calypso Monarch finalists, Manswell asked how Peters had made the cut with his song Ungrateful.
"How you get there?/ What it is you do?/I want everyone here to know I feel/That you and the judges cut a deal."
Peters shot back to ask if Manswell thought the judges lacked integrity.
"What you mean, 'It look like the judges get bribe'?/I am telling you, man, you talking tripe.
"If you feeling that, well, you thinking wrong/It is because I know how to write a good song/That is why I am here to say/I am backing the Gypsy on Sunday."
Manswell warned Peters that since his 1980s hit Little Black Boy, calypso has moved on.
"I tell you (Mical) Teja will win as well/And second place will be Mr Machel."
The two men danced offstage together, an arm around the other's shoulder, Manswell's voice harmonious and Peters' gravelly.
The finals saw Peters face down Bruce in six rounds, sung on no particular topic. Peters began saying Bruce had no right in the final round, and the spot belonged to Murray. Some in the crowd cheered that remark.
Bruce took issue with Peters' song for Dimanche Gras and its chorus, "Your mother can't (believe)."
Peters defended himself as Trinidad and Tobago's best, who offers words that flow without any mistake, adding, "Myron B/You is boo!"
Bruce then attacked, asking if Peters was capable of pleasing his wife.
Peters retorted, "I feel I could take a pause/I ain't pleasing my wife/I am pleasing yours."
The judges chose Peters.
When he and Bruce came onstage to be acknowledged, they continued their verbal sparring, to the audience's delight.
Earlier Bruce said in song he had not had his best night, unlike last year, when he easily dominated the freestyle contest.
This year's freestyle competition saw La Fleur dominate from start to finish, making the craft look easy and effortless.
The first round saw La Fleur versus Jumaane "Juby" Cox on Inclusive Fete versus Cooler Party. La Fleur oozed sheer confidence in his fabulous ragga improvisations, which patrons keenly lapped up. He gave a fast-paced, varied and exciting delivery, where the words flowed and made sense in conveying his views coherently.
La Fleur verbally lashed Cox, who he said was "soft like butter," while he himself was "an underground shotter."
La Fleur charged, "You lyrically petty/You soft like sponge cake in the bakery/You see me in the freestyle zone/You come with lyrics you write from home/And lyrics you have on the phone."