WHILE the main producers of the 2024 soca Carnival Contract Riddim were international duo Banx and Ranx, two Trinidad and Tobago producers also added their signatures to the mix.
Undoubtedly, the most popular track on the riddim is Ian "Bunji Garlin" Alvarez's Carnival Contract, which speaks of having to fulfil the mandate of participating in Carnival annually because of the deal. Many have said it is the tune they want to win the 2024 Road March competition.
The other tracks on the riddim are Fully Bad by Skinny Fabulous, Road Friends by Nessa Preppy and Skinny Fabulous and Magnificent by Sackie.
The instrument-packed beat is just under four minutes long, with a gradual ride/build-up that leads to a fun, upbeat chorus.
Banx and Ranx (Zacharie "Soké" Raymond and Yannick "KNY Factory" Rastogi) have produced for artistes such as Sean Paul, Dua Lipa, Nicky Jam, among others.
Raymond is from Canada and Rastogi from Guadeloupe.
In 2022, they posted on Instagram that they wanted to explore the genre of soca.
Luckily, Dana Shayegan – CEO of Monk Music – saw it and began to get some TT producers involved.
The first was Bjorn "The KVG" Graham, who has produced tracks such as Savannah, One Wish, and Stage Gone Bad by Neil "Iwer" George and Kes and Socavivor by Rikki Jai.
Admittedly, Graham said, while Banx and Ranx "didn't totally understand the soca formula," they did really well with their interpretations of certain aspects of it.
He said an idea "sparked immediately" as he realised the track had a lot of potential.
"I wanted to put my spice and signature on it. I stretch across different genres, obviously, but this project needed a particular approach. I decided I wanted to collaborate with someone else I also thought fit into that style."
He said he probably "drove all over the country" to sit with musicians, sound engineers and producers to see how his ideas could become reality.
Guitars were done by local guitarist Daniel Roberts and additional production by Vernice "Trini Baby" Herreira.
Graham recalled that after Roberts added his elements, he told the musician, "Bro, send me your bank account information
"He breathed some life into it."
Graham said the track was originally meant for Machel Montano and Lyrikal. It was the crafting of that track, he said, that acted as a blueprint to help the riddim become what it is now.
Shayegan, who is from the US, helped "bring everything together," Graham said, and is also listed as one of the producers.
While Banx and Rand brought "a whole different vibe and international feel," it was still up to the locals to add some TT flavour.
Herreira told Newsday they all worked on the riddim for at least five months, describing her working chemistry with Graham as great.
"He brought this project and it was for me to kind of arrange with him and get the levels right and it ended up with me morphing production elements and kind of finishing the sound of it.
"People don't usually come and sit down in sessions with me, so this was a new experience."
She actually thought it was just going to be a single and only later found out it was a riddim.
"I just ended up adding all the elements to bring it together, decided which section is for where, which guitar is for where..."
She recalled hearing Bunji's song for the first time and immediately knowing it would be a hit.
"I always used to be watching it (people love soca) from a consumer standpoint and now being a person attached to it or taking part in it – my mind is blown."
Graham also praised Herreira for helping the project come to fruition.
Bunji and his wife, fellow soca star Fay Ann Lyons-Alvarez, recently held an album-listening party in Woodford Cafe, Chaguanas. During this, he called producers with whom they have both worked onstage to be applauded.
Herreira said it was a "really unique experience" which almost got her teary-eyed.
"We usually behind the scenes and people usually don't care to put us out there, because we name already in the credits. So to dedicate a whole section of your event to shine some light on producers – that was just amazing, and it was so heartfelt."
Graham was thankful and described the feeling as "fulfilling.
"I can't explain how grateful I am."