A prominent feature of Caribbean culture is carnival, a seasonal time of celebration and soca competitions. This Carnival season, rising star, Shirlan George aka “Skinny Banton,” and his incendiary hit “Soak It Good,” produced by MPS Studios, shines a spotlight of international interest on the Tri-State of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique. More After The Jump…
Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Banton grew up in Carriacou, with his single mother. As a child he enjoyed competing in school talent shows. His school friends gave him the moniker, Skinny Banton because he reminded them of a much thinner version of Buju Banton. Some of his musical inspirations in reggae, include Lucky Dube, Bob Marley, Natural Black, Sizzla Kalonji, Junior Kelly and Nasio Fontane.
“I like to sing songs with a message or a storyline.”
Skinny Banton – Songs of Praise
Skinny Banton – Disappointed
As a versatile artist, he experiments with reggae and soca, but found a creative niche in soca, with Slinger Francisco, the legendary, ” Mighty Sparrow” being one of his greatest influences. Like Sparrow, his song lyrics interchange between comedic and serious, giving a unique and refreshing spin on soca narratives. Clever double entrendes in calypso are found in classic hits such as: 1) the taste of stewed saltfish in Mighty Sparrow-Saltfish and 2) the motor vehicle crash in Drupatee Ramgoonai’s “Lick Down Me Nani.” Creative songs of this high caliber are few and far between in today’s generation of music, however Skinny Banton’s explosive hit, “Soak It Good,” regarding the preparation of salt fish, hits the mark.
Skinny Banton -Soak It Good “Cho Sum Oil In It”
The widely circulated video, includes vibrant masqueraders with cow horn helmets, old oil, iguanas, snakes, coffins, shackles, chains, firewood, a “Dutch” pot and provocative dancing by revelers at Jouvert in Grenada. Director, Chevon Francis, represents with this trail blazing video, for Caribbean Women in Television and Film. The Bajan Queen of Soca, Allison Hinds, jumped on the hot remix for the song, cosigning on the instant success of this massive hit.
“The song comes from preparing salt fish to cook and when I study it, all saltfish had to soak nah!”
Soak It Good Remix (Carriacou/ Bajan Blend)
The 2011 Soca Monarch of Grenada, Terra Kid describes the excitement he felt, when he heard “Soak It Good” playing at Labor Day 2014 events in Brooklyn, New York. “ I always knew Skinny was a force to be reckoned with, so to hear his song playing in Bajan, Trini, GT, Vincy fetes Labor Day weekend… I was glad to see it, because I know the struggle and he finally got that listening ear with this tune.”
Skinny Banton writes songs with honesty, drama, poetry, and tragedy. “LifeTime Tabanka'” captures the heartache that comes with finding out about infidelity in a relationship. As Emilia said to Desdemona, in Orthello, “Tis neither here nor there,” (Orthello, Act 4, Scene 3) Banton comes to the conclusion: “I won’t say she bad, I won’t say she good, I just have to leave her to go for she ….Oh Lawd!).
“Each man falls in love at a point in time, its just life; disappointment and emotions.”
Skinny Banton – LifeTime Tabanka
In an interview with Master Mix Gus for Oil Down Factory, Skinny states that his song, “Wanna Make Up,” evokes memories: “One can listen and get a feeling and miss the one you had for years!” The video directed by, Kerry Velon, depicts a relationship holding on to its last thread that finally breaks.
“Doubt that the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move his aides, doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love” (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2).
Skinny Banton “Wanna Make Up”
Another sun stroked selection, “No Cokey Eye,” refers to the mate with the wandering eyes: “When I think she watching me, she eyes on another man.”
Spider and Skinny Banton – “No Cokey Eye” (Who She Watching?)
“I manage a lot of artists and this artist in particular, will have longevity because of his talent, creativity, and humbleness” says Heron “Rocking J” Douglas, who manages several soca acts including Walt “Tallpree” Cambridge (Grenada Soca Monarch 2003), who paved the way with smash hits like “Wicked Jab,” “The Grave, The Jail and The Hospital,” “Carnival Maddness,” and “Old Woman Alone.” Producer, Lyndon Pope of Youngstarz Studios adds that the brotherhood between himself and Skinny Banton positively effects the wide creative palette in the studio. “I strongly believe Skinny Banton has found his comfort zone in terms of recording, which is evident in the quality of the music.”
Skinny Banton- Before I Come
” My motto in life is believe in yourself and put the Most High first, check”
In 2011, Skinny Banton won his first People’s Choice title and then consecutively in 2012 and 2013. He won the 2012 Soca Monarch Competition in the Tri-state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, and in 2013 he was crowned the Road March King. The sky is the limit as this artist continues to distinguish himself on a international level.
Main Photograph: Original photograph was taken by Hector Solano for www.617Live.TV with final photo editing for this article by Charlene Wiggins.