Soca is something to experience, says Skinny Fabulous.
It is so diverse, he says, that it is difficult to define or describe.
When it comes to his debut album BAD, the soca star is ensuring listeners get that experience.
An acronym for Beyond a Doubt, BAD will showcase the many sides of the Vincentian star from his softer, sensual side to the energetic, aggressive performer he is known as.
The album will also encompass various sounds of the Caribbean including Kompa and Dancehall.
On BAD, Skinny will introduce the mainstream Caribbean to artistes such as Oswald from St Martin and features collabs with Nailah Blackman, Nessa Preppy, Bounty Killa, Mr Killa, Ding Dong and Charly Blacks.
“We did a little bit old school with the narrative, we paid attention to the flow of the album so it is not just a compilation, it is taking you on a journey,” he says.
“It is showing the diversity of the artist and we segmented the album into moods so it starts with a certain type of mood then it gets wild. I have a very dynamic range in terms of my vocals so there are times I could deliver something subtle, calm and sensual and there are times I could get aggressive with the rah, rah, rah.”
The album has close to 20 tracks including his 2023 releases such as “Come Home” with Nailah Blackman.
Artwork for BAD album
Although he did an album on CD about 20 years ago which was distributed in St Vincent, Skinny says BAD is officially his first album and his way of legitimising his presence in the industry with a body of work.
“You can’t keep demanding respect for soca music without putting in the work. It’s me falling in line in not just doing soca music for the jump and wave of it,” he said, stating that the pandemic showed that artistes no longer need any carnival to put out music and tour.
Born Gamal Doyle, Skinny is a five-time Soca Monarch in St Vincent and the 2019 joint Road March winner in Trinidad and Tobago. Apart from his own music, he is known for penning songs, mainly for soca king Machel Montano, such as “Happiest Man Alive”, “Conch Shell” and “Famalay”.
The former radio DJ who first started out his music career singing dancehall seems reserved and serious on the surface but during the pandemic, he showed fans a different side of himself.
From Tik Tok to Instagram, Skinny kept fans entertained during the lockdown period with hilarious skits. That side of his personality is included on the album in the interludes and skits.
It made me a little more human which surprisingly people liked,” he says, noting that exposing other sides of himself made him more comfortable to cover topics that aren’t typical for soca.
An example is “No Relationship” on the Monkey Trix Riddim, which talks about him going on a mission to get on badly now that he is a free man.
“It just allows for you to be open and just go there,” he says, pointing out another song, “Sorry”, in which he admits he was the problem in his relationship.
The pandemic lockdown, he says, while it forced many people to do some introspection, allowed him to appreciate himself more.
“It allowed me to see how much I have as opposed to how much I don’t have I made the most personal progress in my life during those two years,” he reveals. In the last two years, Skinny opened a restaurant in St Vincent, built his dream house and spent more time with his family.
Apart from the freedom he felt to express himself on the album, Skinny notes that one thing he has been doing differently is paying attention to his vocal quality.
“If I can’t get the project done vocally perfect I prefer not to do it,” he says. “That came over the years of being so panicky and thinking that if I miss a project it is going to hurt me. I am way more confident so now that if I can’t do it proper I will let it go. I might miss a big tune but I would be more comfortable if I did it properly.”
He says as a result, there are only certain studios and producers he works with now.
“That shows in the type of production I have now, especially on the album. I am treating my vocals with respect,” he declares.
Speaking about the expectations for his career, Skinny says like most artistes it is a global break through but notes that the success of a soca artiste is tied to the success of the genre. As such, he says, there is a concerted effort by the collective to push the genre so it is easier for anyone to break through.
A major move to support that is limiting the free music that was traditionally sent out via email blasts. Now, he says, artistes are putting their music on streaming platforms and directing their fans to that.
“When we get more serious about the business, the business will get more serious about us. So soca music, in general, we are operating in such a way that anyone in any part of the world could pull up the numbers and say, wow, this genre streams x amount,” he says.
He urges fans to support the music year-round and not just at carnival time.
Skinny Fabulous will launch his album at Residence on Thursday, January 12 at 7.30 pm. The album will be available on streaming services on Friday.