Musical Analysis: PAPI

Now a days listening to radio stations is getting quite annoying, because they all play the same thing at the same time. It seems as if they all call each other up and pick “five” songs for the day and they just rotate the songs. I personally find this frustrating because I keep on hearing the same thing over and over. I guess that’s how they sell mainstream music today. 

I personally love Soca it is not played that much on New York radio stations unless it is Labor Day/ Caribbean Day. Soca derived from calypso it mainly known as “Caribbean music”. Soca music is based on a strong rhythmic section done by a drum set. The drum and percussion is often loud in this genre of music and is sometimes the only instrument to back up the vocal. Soca is defined by its loud fast percussion beats. Electric and bass guitars are used often and are always found in a live soca band. Also a  horn section is found occasionally in live soca band. It usually consists of trumpets and a trombobe with saxophones being part of the section from time to time. It’s a combination of everything or anything that could be used to make a sound which will eventually lead to a song.  The musical lyrics are made for you to either think subconsciously or just to make you dace to the beat. It is used to make social/political commentary or risqué humor.  Soca is not really internationally known unless it is sung by a person who made it big in Europe then to the United States. Some big names are Arrow who sang Hot Hot Hot, Burning Flames who sang the song Island Girls for the movie Weekend at Bernie’s, Byron Lee –Dolla Wine and many more artists.

Burning Flames


Burning Flames is a band that was formed in Antigua and Barbuda. The band is known for its high energy, multiple-influence of various music genres, and synthesizing. They were back up singers/band for the calypsonian Arrow.  They have been in existence in Antigua Carnival from 1985 and still going strong. Their musical sound is combined with reggae, zouk, funk and rock & roll.


Papi was a tribute song for Papi a well known man in Antigua and Barbuda for playing his horn at Cricket games especially when West Indies scored. Papi was sung in 2007 Carnival Soca Monarch competition by Lord Satellite a member of Burning Flames Band. He placed 1st runner up in the competition but won the road march.

Papi is one of my favorite soca songs of all time, once you here the horns at the beginning of the song you know its jumping up time. When the beat starts to play some part of your body have to move.  The instruments strongly used are the horns, drums, cow bell and the iron pans/parts which are anything from old car parts to an old pot. Another thing with soca you don’t have to be a great vocal singer to sing soca.

When listening to the song I do not pay much attention to his voice or the lyrics. The rhythmic beat of the iron pans and cow bell and the horns is what catch my ears. Even if the song played with out the lyrics the horns are played as if they are words. The bass drum is just kept in one beat:1,1,1,1,1 etc. through out the whole song. No bass or guitars are used. The Iron pans are so distinct you hear the ping ping which is hypnotizing.

In Antigua the music studio technology is not advanced like the American studio where you can record in separate places of a song. Everything is recorded at the same time so how they sound on the CD is exactly how they sound live.  


If someone was listening to this song for the first time or never heard of soca they would say it is rubbish. But in truth it is not, it is telling a story of Papi the horn player asking to play in the band and Lord Satellite gave him the chance is shocked at how the crowd reacted positively to Papi playing his horns. Most soca and calypso songs use Dialect as the language which is basically broken english.


Verse 1

Papi keep harassing me, say he want to jam  with me

and mash up the festival when he blow he new gold horn 

he say he got what it takes to make the music great

all he want is a cha chance to make the people dance


I say ok PAPI                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

come jam with arwe                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 and blow your sweet horn                                                                                                                                                                                        

let me see how the people go on                                                                                                                                                                               

like a dis ya

Wave Wave, Push Push, Jump Jump, Jam Jam


(Voice over) Is what is this PAPI have the people going on crazy

The wave,push,jump and jam are just how Caribbean express themselves in dance. It is like a freedom dance every one running around wild happy.

Papi is just a good humorous song to listen to and by listening to the horns, I would say Papi has proven himself that he can move a crowd.

Here is a live video or audio of the song competition night (link below):

Burning Flames – Papi (Antigua Soca 2007

Soca could be any element of musical sound groovy, up tempo or rock and roll. It is about having fun and being not afraid to let loose. Soca has been around for years and what makes this music genre so special is because its so unpopularized to the rest of the world, its something we can call our own. Soca is a part of my culture along with reggae and dancehall, it will forever be a part of my iPod or whatever else musical technology being created in years to come.



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Posted by yendie   @   4 October 2010

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Oct 24, 2010
#1 Amy Herzog :

Thanks so much for sharing this with us– I really learned a great deal about a genre that was unfamiliar to me. I especially liked the way that you framed this music in terms of the way in which people listen to it–when out dancing together–and how this changes the kinds of things one focuses on when listening. I also loved the way in which improvising with found metal objects has become part of the established style.

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