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Soca Needs More Unity. New Music Released, Bitts Pushes Preservation and Evolution.

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Even as she pushes for a better understanding and appreciation of Trinidad and Tobago’s cultural legacy, its traditions in mas and culture and all else, female soca artist, Lil Bitts says change is the only constant.

She unleashed new music recently and appeared on RED 96.7FM in Trinidad on Wednesday morning. Her latest release is called ‘Sweetest Mas’ and Bitts told listeners that the experience in bringing her vision of the ‘sweetest mas’ experience to the screen, via the song’s video, was a spiritual one.

She recalled dressing in blue paint to deliver the Jambolasse carnival character, telling listeners that prayer was a part of the delivery, since the character, which resembles that of a devil, would ultimately consume her, something she had never quite experienced before. “People do not understand how spiritual our Carnival really is,” she commented, explaining that after the ritual of prayer and becoming one with the character she was able to touch the fire without being burnt.

Lil Bitts in character, during filming of her new video for ‘Sweetest Mas.’

These elements of Trinidad and Tobago’s traditional carnival experience, while still seen in some quarters, have dwindled in others. This, Bitts says she wishes could be maintained and passed on to future generations. “J’ouvert long time was old clothes and characters and whatever was the current affairs issue of the time, people would play that. Carnival is so much more. It would be awesome if we could teach our kids these things,” she said. Bitts said her 7-year-old neice who was a part of her video for ‘Sweetest Mas,’ did not know half of the carnival characters displayed, so it became a teachable moment for her.

The artist who also works in theatre, explained that it’s all about finding a balance between preservation of the culture and embracing evolution. “I have nothing against ‘BBF’ – Bikini, Beads and Feathers,” she said, noting that she plays mas like everyone else in the modern carnival wear. “I understand that everything evolves, so we can’t shut down the BBF because everything evolves. Does soca sound the same way from 10-15 years ago? No. The only thing constant is change,” she reiterated.

On the issue of Soca music and the local fraternity’s desire to see international audiences gravitate even more towards it, Bitts said, “It will catch. I just feel like people just need to do them. What I think needs to happen is that we need to come together more. That’s what the African artistes are doing. It’s not just one African artist – it’s multiple, altogether and then everything became ‘Afro,’ she highlighted.

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