Free Up Yuhself: Why "Lucy" by Destra Garcia SHOULD be on Your Playlist!
Updated: Sep 15
Disclaimer:This is an opinion piece on my journey with this music genre and with that, I am expressing my personal feelings. This is not an article; you may not agree with the ideas presented and that is completely fine. It’s one of the many joys that comes with having an opinion.
Quarantine has cancelled a plethora of events/festivals in Toronto one notably being Caribana—a long weekend celebration of Caribbean culture. While the news was not surprising, I was disheartened to say the least. I have always wanted to play mas at Bana and planned to do so this year. Nonetheless, health is wealth and my mas-playing dreams will happen one day! By the time I post this, Caribana weekend would have kicked off already. I wanted to write about something centred around the culture so here it is!
"Despite this form of gatekeeping, female soca artistes rightfully create room for themselves and are the quintessential example of what this genre stands for."
Soca/Sokah is a music genre derived from Caribbean island Trinidad and Tobago. The purpose of Soca music is to represent liberation, family, love, unity—in short, good vibes. The influences of calypso and chutney music matched with the light-hearted nature and repetitiveness, it is hard not to find yourself falling for the genre. All my life, soca music has been present and that is not stopping anytime soon. Whether it was Saturday morning cleaning or my parents taking me to Caribana to watch the masqueraders, the music captivated me. Just like the song “Follow the Leader” (1998) by The Soca Boys declares: “I love Soca”!
While soca music symbolizes freedom and resistance from oppressive structures, it is not exempt from hegemonic masculinity with its overt male representation in the industry. From the party promoter, to the DJ and the artist, men disproportionately dominate and dictate these spaces leaving minimal space for women to openly participate. Despite this form of gatekeeping, female soca artistes rightfully create room for themselves and are the quintessential example of what this genre stands for. Artistes such as Alison Hinds, Patrice Roberts and, Fay-Ann Lyons question the politics of respectability and gender constructions of womanhood by moving to the beat of their own heart and soul. Within this juxtaposition of suppression and empowerment, they define and formulate their own narratives of womanhood and reclaim their sexuality, while inviting other women to do the same.
With this reasoning, it would be a surprise to no one that one of my favourite soca songs is by a woman. “Lucy” (2015) by Trinidadian artist Destra Garcia (also dubbed as “Queen of Bacchanal”) is my all-time soca song that gets me going. Whenever I hear the whispers of “Lucy Lucy” I know it’s about to go down. Be prepared to see me whinin’ and wukkin’ up for the next three minutes and thirty seconds. The infectious, energetic beat of “Lucy” guaranteed its popularity with me; however, it is the lyrics I resonate with the most. The song tackles on the “good girl” turned “loose” story by awakening the dormant “Lucy” inside of her. Moreover, the song is an homage to Black women versatility and encourages them to outwardly showcase it.
"Soca music embodies what Carnival is all about: disregard of respectability while asserting power and freedom."
The initial lyrics reflect back on a childhood that is very similar to mine. Growing up in a religious household, you are ‘taught’ the dichotomy of what makes a respectable woman and what does not. Destra emphasizes the former proclaiming, “I grew up as a real good girl/Always home, don't go nowhere”. Here, Destra equates that a “good woman” and modesty are achieved within the space of a household and not outside. This misconception is rooted in womanhood which places women—Black women—who were outside the traditions of domesticity and submissiveness as not respectable. As a result, that belief consolidates/creates a false hierarchy in womanhood.
The next set of lyrics shows a contrast of the pre-conceived notions of womanhood, when Destra/Lucy asserts agency over her body. She contends:
“As soon as I was introduced to Carnival/Dey say I loose/All down on di ground/Wukkin', wukkin' up mi bottom and it/Draggin', draggin' all ova town/And dey say I Lucy”
Throughout the song Destra uses a double entendre of “Lucy”, her alter ego and “loose” in reference to the stigma that comes with women who participate in the performative dance of soca music (e.g. whinin’ and wukkin’). Thus, with embracing Lucy and the dance form, she challenges womanhood by reclaiming her body and sexuality. Moreover, Carnival, a cultural event celebrated in Trinidad and Tobago and the West Indies, has a historical symbolization of resistance towards European culture. Soca music embodies what Carnival is all about: disregard of respectability while asserting power and freedom. The lyrics above illustrate that Lucy is an embodiment of Carnival, soca music and, their significance to resisting colonial ideologies.
"It’s just me, my body and the music."
When we reach to the chorus of the song, Destra encourages not only herself, but everyone to get loose:
“I'm looser than... Lucy/I sweeter than... juicy/Dis carnival have meh so damn loose, hey/Get loose, ah weh yuh get loose/ […]/Loosen yuh waist kill dem wid di pace.”
To reiterate, the word “loose” in this song is a powerful statement. In society, “loose” is used to incite shame and humility against Black women considered outside of femininity and womanhood. Alternatively, in “Lucy”, loose symbolizes all things empowering to Destra and in a larger context, Black women pressured to perform a “womanhood” that was initially never meant for us. Womanhood and respectability politics are ideologies rooted in colonialism that Destra resists by embracing her “Lucy” and demanding other women to get loose. Even me! When I hear the chorus come, I do as instructed and GET LOOSE! I have no care in the world about what I’m being perceived as. It’s just me, my body and the music.
What This Song Means to Me
"It is tiring to have these tropes placed on you without warrant. Especially, knowing that we are not given the equal grace to prosper like our White counterparts."
I could go on and on about how vital this song is towards reclamation of sexual liberation and opposition of repressive structures however, I implore y’all to take the time and listen to the song yourself. My experience is mine and does not speak for all Black women. On that note, I want to reflect on how this song and soca music allowed me to recognize certain issues that come with being a Black woman.
Black women take on scripts constructed by society either as “mother of civilization” or “the freak”. It is tiring to have these tropes placed on you without warrant. Especially, knowing that we are not given the equal grace to prosper like our White counterparts. Additionally, when we do retaliate against these oppressive factors, there’s always some sort of negative backlash. I am tired of the policing of Black women— let us be who we want to be cha! Moving forward, I refuse to let anyone dictate who I am as a woman. I define my womanhood and if that includes me whinin’ my waist all down to the earth’s core, then so be it.
“Lucy” by Destra re-examines what it means to be a woman. She inspires women all over to “get loose” and to liberate ourselves by celebrating our innate sexuality. Black women overflow with versatility to solely be placed at one end of a spectrum. Let us flourish into our own beautiful beings and affirm our own womanhood. Respect and validate all the degrees of Black women and if you’re unable to do that: move to the sidelines with yuh stiff waist!
Springer, J. (2008). "Roll It Gal": Alison Hinds, Female Empowerment, and Calypso. Meridians pp. 93-129. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/40338913
And that is the end of another post! What is your favourite soca song? Share, leave a comment, I'd appreciate it and keep looking out for more content!
RENEE SHIAN xx