Best of 2016: The Way Up Project was the Riddim of the Year
A few months before the soca season was slated to kick off, I was in a studio somewhere on this rock for some reason I can’t particularly remember. It was there that I first heard Lil’ Rick’s “Bacchanalist.” A series of “Hey’s” laced the intro and then Rick got down to business: “Bass Ink lewwe start the Bacchanal / Lewwe start up de bacchanal.” After the countdown to revelry, the tune settled into a nice, ice-cold groove which Rick smoothly rode like a visiting royal cruising on a freshly paved road. “Call me bacchanal / I goin’ party hard like ah animal / I goin’ make a mess of the carnival, woiiii.” Studio work calls for songs to be played on repeat, so that kinks can be ironed out or something can be added. So it continued, without complaint:
“My behavior stink (Ah know dat),
Ah wukking up stink (Ah know dat),
Ah got in me drinks (Ah know dat),
But ah rude and I like it”
Like wine, it got better with age. Every time that it stopped, I begged that they hit play again. I was hooked. This was an early contender for song of the season. Rick hasn’t sound this smooth in…ever. It needed to be released since yesterday. From that point on it was stuck in my head. I keep humming the chorus to myself. I witnessed this forthcoming Rick song to my girlfriend until she was sick of it. Then in the middle of May, it was released, along with the full riddim compliment. My mind was blown as I skipped through each song, every artist coasting on this slick production with cuts that were insanely catchy.
De general laid out his falsetto for “De World Ain’t See,” the upstart Joaquin paid tribute to BIM with “Home.” Shanta made a case for going all night with “Til’ Morning” and Antigua’s Ricardo Drue “ID (Stamp Yuh Name)” was a heatrock with a chorus that sounded like 90s-pop. Rick liked it so much he added a second with “Way Up” – a call and response that sounds like a tribute to the Jamaican dance of which the riddim lends its name. (Skinny Fabulous would come through later with “Pompous.”)
In the midst of the heat of bashment soca, the Way Up Project firmly held its own thanks to a strong catalogue of artists who brought their A-game. None seemingly wishing to waste what is an insanely good production from Bass Ink. Not many other riddims this year could boast that. This riddim and its songs are versatile. They work to start the fete, keep the pace, bring it to a fever pitch, or to cool it down. A pre-game staple to get hype for the night out as the sun sets or the inspiration to keep going as the sun rises. On the road or in the office. The Way Up Project stood head and shoulders above every other soca riddim for 2016.
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Carlos Brathwaite is the Founder & Editor of 246Mixtapes. Follow him on Twitter.
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