Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What "Sugar" Means In Soca Music (Feauring Lord Kitchener's Song "Sugar Bum Bum")

Edited by Azizi Powell

Title & Content Changes/Additions - January 30, 2020

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" in Calypso/Soca music and in Trini and Caribbean cultures. This post also provides information about Calypso/Soca superstar Lord Kitchener.

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

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

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Lord Kitchener for his 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.
Also, Click for the closely related pancocojams post entitled "Sugar Aloes - I Love Being Me (Lyrics & Comments)"

"Aldwyn Roberts HBM [1] DA [2] (18 April 1922 – 11 February 2000),[3] better known by the stage name Lord Kitchener (or "Kitch"), was an internationally known Trinidadian calypsonian.[4] He has been described as "the grand master of calypso" and "the greatest calypsonian of the post-war age".[5][6]


He moved to Port of Spain in 1943 where he joined the Roving Brigade. He was spotted singing "Mary I am Tired and Disgusted" (aka "Green Fig") with the group by Johnny Khan, who invited him to perform in his Victory Tent, where he met fellow calypsonian Growling Tiger, who decided Roberts should from that point be known as Lord Kitchener. He became known as an innovator, introducing musical and lyrical changes, including frequent criticism of the British government's control of the island. During World War 2 Kitchener became popular with US troops based on the island, leading to performances in New York. After the end of World War 2, T&T Carnival 1946 took place in early March during which Kitchener won his very first official Road March title with a catchy calypso leggo called "Jump In The Line".


His prominence continued throughout the 1950s, when calypso achieved international success. Kitchener became a very important figure to those first 5,000 West Indian migrants to the UK. His music spoke of home and a life that they all longed for but in many cases could not or would not return to.[11] He immortalised the defining moment for many of the migrants in writing the "Victory Calypso" with its lyrics "Cricket, Lovely Cricket" to celebrate West Indies cricket team's first victory over England in England, in the Second Test at Lord's in June 1950.[10][12] This was one of the first widely known West Indian songs, and epitomised an event that historian and cricket enthusiast C. L. R. James defined as crucial to West Indian post-colonial societies.

He opened a nightclub in Manchester and also had a successful residency at The Sunset in London.[5][8] Further US performances followed in the mid-1950s.[5][8] In the 1950s, Kitchener also composed "Bebop Calypso".

Kitchener returned to Trinidad in 1962. He and the Mighty Sparrow proceeded to dominate the calypso competitions of the 1960s and 1970s. Lord Kitchener won the road march competition ten times between 1963 and 1976, more times than any other calypsonian. For 30 years, Kitchener ran his own calypso tent, Calypso Revue, within which he nurtured the talent of many calypsonians. Calypso Rose, David Rudder, Black Stalin and Denyse Plummer are among the many artists who got their start under Kitchener's tutelage.[5][13] Later he moved towards soca, a related style, and continued recording until his death. Kitchener's compositions were enormously popular as the chosen selections for steel bands to perform at the annual National Panorama competition during Trinidad Carnival.[5] He won his only Calypso King title in 1975 with "Tribute to Spree Simon".[5] He stopped competing in 1976.[14]

Kitchener saw the potential of the new soca phenomenon of the late 1970s and adopted the genre on a string of albums over the years that followed.[5] He recorded his most commercially successful song, and one of the earliest major soca hits, "Sugar Bum Bum" in 1977 that became a big hit for the 1978 Trinidad Carnival season.[6][15]
Given when the title "Lord Kitchener" was conferred upon Aldwyn Roberts, that title was probably lifted from the name of "Major Henry Herbert Kitchener, 3rd Earl Kitchener DL TD (24 February 1919 – 16 December 2011), styled Viscount Broome from 1928 to 1937 [who] was a British peer. He was unmarried, and when he died the title Earl Kitchener became extinct.[1][2]",_3rd_Earl_Kitchener.

It's ironic that the title "Lord Kitchener" is probably best known now as the stage name of a Black Calypsonian/Soca singer who composed and performed "Jump In The Line" and other songs since the e first Lord Kitchener who is profiled in Wikipedia is "Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, PC (/ˈkɪtʃɪnər/; 24 June 1850 – 5 June 1916) was a senior British Army officer and colonial administrator who won notoriety for his imperial campaigns, most especially his scorched earth policy against the Boers and his establishment of concentration camps during the Second Boer War in which between 18,000 and 28,000 men, women and children died, mainly from disease epidemics,[1] and later played a central role in the early part of the First World War.",_1st_Earl_Kitchener.


IsDePanInMe, Uploaded on Nov 17, 2007

Calypso/Soca classic by the Grandmaster.


Audrey, where you get that sugar
Darling there is nothing sweeter
You make me scream, you make me bawl
You make me feel like ten foot tall

Sugar bum, sugar bum-bum (repeat 3x)

Audrey, everytime you wiggle
Darling, you put me in trouble
You torture me, the way you wine
I love to see your fat behind

Sugar bum, sugar bum-bum (repeat 3x)

Darling, I don't want to lose you
Honey, like you give me voodoo
Give way me land, give way me car
But let no man touch my sugar

Sugar bum, sugar bum-bum (repeat 3x)

Give me the bum-bum, Audrey
Oh oh oh
Give me the bum-bum, Audrey
Give me the bum-bum, Audrey
Honey the bum-bum, Audrey

Sugar bum, sugar bum-bum (repeat 3x)


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

Notice that in the song "Sugar Bum Bum" Lord Kitchener makes references to the female having a big behind. A big butt is considered to be very nice (meaning sweet). In many African and African Diaspora cultures a female with a big butt is admired.*

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.)

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.

The word "sugar" is used in the names of Calypso/Soca singer "Sugar Aloe" and Soca singer "Sugar Daddy" (who is featured in Part III of this pancocojams series). The word "sugar" is also part of the stage name for "Sugar Minott" is a Dancehall Reggae singer with a "sugar" stage name.

I think that in these Caribbean contexts, "sugar" means that the man is very sweet [i.e. a good lover, a man who is attractive to women. 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.

I don't think that the words "sugar" or "sweet" in these Caribbean contexts have any of the homosexual male connotations that are negatively conferred on those terms in the United States.

I also don't think that the word "sugar" used in Caribbean artists stage names is an oblique reference to the slang term "sugar daddy" meaning "A wealthy, usually older man who gives expensive gifts to a young person in return for sexual favors or companionship."* In the USA, a "sugar daddy" is looked down upon. However, it seems to me that "sugar" in these examples of Caribbean stage names, sugar is a complimentary term.


Additions and corrections to this information, comments, and speculations are welcome.

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