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The 2013 hit “Differentology” was his international breakthrough, but Trinidadian soca star Bunji Garlin is no overnight success. Lifestyle Caribbean looks back at Bunji’s rise from the pavements of Arima to the world stage, while Mark Lyndersay offers a personal take on the twenty-
From the mid-
Outfitted with massive speakers and sophisticated sound systems, the maxi taxis, which make up the bulk of Trinidad and Tobago’s public transport, were like clubs on wheels, with booming bass, and sometimes jam-
On the East-
Ian Alvarez was one of those students, riding the maxis, soaking in the music, unaware that this would be the foundation upon which he would launch a musical career. Known today as Bunji Garlin, the Arima native is winning worldwide popularity as a crossover soca artist, thanks to his 2013 hit “Differentology”, but long before that, he was a product of the dancehall environment that swept the country.
“St Augustine, El Dorado, Arima Comprehensive . . . schools on the East-
“Nobody at that time was thinking of a career,” he says. “First of all, we were doing a different style in Trinidad and Tobago. If you did soca, you had a chance to get out there. We were doing something alien to our culture — we were emulating a style that didn’t come from here and adapting well,” he explains, crediting the slower-
“No one had dreams that we could do this in our future. No one at that time was even thinking about getting more girls to like us, we were just thinking of opening our mouths, saying something and watching the crowd go wild,” Bunji continues. “That was the big thing. Every time you make a new line . . . it says a lot about how people see you and what you represent.”
Liming in Arima, and impressing the crowd gathered to hear these schoolboys drop lyrics on the spot, was nothing but fun for Bunji and his friends — until an empty KFC box changed their perception.