Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What "Sugar" Means In Soca Music

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part IV in a four part series of posts about the meanings of the words "sweet" and "sugar" in Soca music.

Part IV focuses on the various meanings of the word "sugar" and showcases a song by Calypso/Soca superstar Lord Kitchener and a song by the Soca superstar Sugar Aloe.

Part I focuses on the various meanings of the word "sweet" and showcases the song "Sweet Music" by the Founder of Soca music Lord Shorty (Ras Shorty). Click for Part I of this series.

Part II showcases the Calypso/Soca superstar Baron. Click for Part II of this series.

Part III showcases two recordings of songs entitled "Sweet Soca Music". Click for Part III of this series.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

I believe that the word "sugar" in Soca music (and also in Dancehall music) can be a play on the widely known phrase "sweet Soca music".

"Sugar" in a Caribbean stage name can also simultaneously refer to the vocalist's smooth, honey voice and crooner style of singing & the type of songs that are sung.

Read Part I & Part III for information & comments about the meanings of the word "sweet" in the context of Soca music.

More comments about the meanings of the word "sugar" in Caribbeean cultures-but particularly in Soca music-are found after each of thee two featured videos.

Example #1: Lord Kitchener - SUGAR BUM BUM

IsDePanInMe, Uploaded on Nov 17, 2007

Calypso/Soca classic by the Grandmaster.
Click for the complete lyrics to "Sugar Bum Bum".

"Sugar bum bum" means a "sweet butt". In the United States the singular word "bum" means "butt", however in my experience, that word is most often used by non-Black Americans.

In the first line in Lord Kitchener's song "Sugar Bum Bum", "Audrey, where you get that sugar", the word "sugar" is a shortened reference to that woman's bum bum (butt, behind).

Also, in the verse "Give way me land, give way me car
But let no man touch my sugar", the word "sugar" is also a referent to the woman's bum bum.

Notice that in the song "Sugar Bum Bum" Lord Kitchener makes references to the female having a big behind. In many African and African Diaspora cultures a female with a big butt is admired.*

Also notice the reference to butts in this commenter's post to this video's viewer comment thread:
"Looks like the audience couldn't get their sugar bum bum's off their chairs. Where was it recorded? Prison?"
-JJMMWGDuPree, 2011
This comment suggests that the usual audience response to Soca music is dancing or at least moving to the music in your seat. However, I've noticed that when Black folks are in settings that are either integrated with White people or settings that are considered "upper class", there is often some confusion about which rules of audience behavior to follow. Or there is a tendency to follow the White middle class standard which is the opposite of dancing or moving in one's seat (or overtly responding to performances until those performances are completed.

*In the United States contemporary versions of children's jump rope rhyme "Policeman Policeman" contain the line "Here comes a woman with an African booty". Unlike many other referents to Africa, someone describing a female teenagers or a woman's butt as an "African booty") is considered a compliment. Click for a pancocojams post that jump rope rhyme.)

Example #2: Sugar Aloes - I Love Being Me

trinidesi, Uploaded on Oct 17, 2007

Aloes in his element singing his Classic "I Love Being Me" in d 1992 dimanche gras.
Click this pancocojams post about this song:
Click Part II of this series for a video of Baron and judge for yourself if these two vocalists look and sound alike.

Given that "aloe" is a plant that is native to Africa, the name Sugar Aloe is a good fit for a Black Caribbean singer. The form of aloe that is most widely known throughout the world is "aloe vera" (true aloe).

In addition to "Sugar Aloe", another Caribbean "sugar" stage name is the Soca singer "Sugar Daddy" who is featured in Part III of this series. And "Sugar Minott" is a Dancehall Reggae singer with a "sugar" stage name.

In addition to the play on the meanings for the word "sweet", I wonder if the word "sugar" used in Caribbean artists stage names may be an oblique reference to slang term "sugar daddy". Even if that is so, it seems to me that the American (United States) term "Sugar Daddy", meaning "A wealthy, usually older man who gives expensive gifts to a young person in return for sexual favors or companionship."* - doesn't apply to that Caribbean referent. In the USA, a "sugar daddy" is looked down upon. However, I get the sense (from reading behind the lines & lyrics) that a Caribbean "Sugar Daddy" is admired. I wonder if a Caribbean "sugar daddy" is similar to (if not the same as) as the Jamaican "don dada", meaning the main man, a man who is able to get any female he wants.

It seems to me that the complimentary Caribbean meaning of "sugar daddy" is very much like the once little used, and now retired 1990s African American slang term "fly guy" (The term "fly girl" was used much more often than "fly guy").**

Please correct me if I'm wrong about this.


** Click for a pancocojams post about "fly", "fly girl", and "fly guy".

Thanks to Lord Kitchener and Sugar Aloe for their musical legacy. Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post, and thanks to the publishers of the videos which are showcased in this post.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

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