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By Jeané Neal

For the next two weeks in Miami, there will be a slew of events for the Winter Music Conference and Ultra Music Festival.

The festival is an electronic dance music festival that is held in March every year and only gets bigger and better. There are usually pre and/or after parties that coincide with these events. Thank goodness for social media because I probably never would’ve heard about this event.

The Third Annual Winter Music Massive, hosted by Melanie Fiona and producer RVSSIAN, had these awesome selectors: Jasmine Solano and Melo-X aka “Electric Punnany”… oops can I say that? They set up the platform proper for reggae and soca royalty. Dubbed the next best artists to look out for are Jesseroyal and Jo Mersa Marley, who both blessed the stage individually and definitely set the pace.

Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley and Stephen Marley were soon to follow and everyone went mad!! The vibe reminded me of an old school basement party. It was such an intimate crowd and I felt so spoiled to be able to enjoy this for the free99. (I forgot to add that this star-studded event was GRATIS!)

Now for the main event and the reason I even came to WMM was to see the Viking himself: Bunji Garlin, also known as Ian Antonio Alvarez. Pause. Mek ah say it again, Ian Antonio Alvarez … Ooh gives me the same giggly feeling like the Lion King hyenas with “Mufasaaa”. (Side Note: Don’t judge me.)

OK back to business. This soca artiste has been shelling out hits after hits for years. Songs like We Done Deh, Mad Carnival, Tun Up (which has a recent collab and remix) and “Brrt” that was featured in popular video game Grand Theft Auto have been big hits, but in my opinion seriously overlooked. I’ve been following him for years and to be honest, I feel as though he is underestimated, by some, as an artist. His energy is contagious and you can’t help but want to “bounce somebody”. He speaks the truth and his freestyle is as he likes to say “FIIIIIREEEE!!” He and his beautiful wife Fay Ann Lyons just make you HYPE! I overlove how they take the stage together and feed off of each other’s vibe. They support each other and it is rare that you see one without the other, kinda like ball and chain if you will.

Songs like Differentology, Carnival Tabanca and even my latest fave “It’s a Carnival”, which is a another Major Lazer alliance, are as I like to say “New Age Soca.” Bunji is stepping out and making it well known that soca has been in existence for years and now it’s soca’s time to shine! He is on a mission and I fully endorse this Viking movement. Everyone is watching and listening as he said way back when at Soca Paradise in Fort Lauderdale. I truly believe in soca and the unity it brings to all who are willing to listen.

Never underestimate the power of soca! Axes up!

-Femme Viking <3 (All Photos and Videos were solely taken by Me, Myself and I)

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