Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 1st 2015 Contents interview
www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2015
with Clevon Raphael
'Look out for
my return to
Big Yard soon'
Continued from Page A8
Chutney veteran Rikki Jai, teams up with Ravi B during the Soca Chutney Monarch
semifinals at Rienzi Complex, Couva, last month. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
the lowest points in my career. I had no hit song, no
job on the table, and I resigned a paying job (slightly
smiling). But I decided there and then, I am not
serving two masters at the same time because I
realised that culture was the way I wanted to go.
The day job would not be able to provide me with
what I wanted in life---one, freedom of expression;
two, freedom to do what I wanted; and three, do
what I love to do and live off it, and that is what I
am doing from 1996.
Rikki Jai, you have not yet won the National
Calypso Monarch title. Does it mean you have given
up winning that prestigious title in the Big Yard?
Not at all. I made the finals up there in 2001 and
that same year, I entered six competitions, made the
finals of all six, and won four. Historically nobody
else has done that, and I am the only Indo-Trinbag-
onian to ever make it to the Big Yard finals.
I have not given up on winning that title, it just
happened that chutney soca began taking up a larger
part of my life, a bigger part of my career.
People were calling for me in that aspect of our
culture and when they hear Rikki Jai, they automat-
ically think chutney. I love calypso music, it is dear
to me, and look out for Rikki Jai to return to that Big
Yard very soon.
Mr Jaimungal, the traditional calypso tents have
been taking a financial beating within recent years
through aggrieved Indo-Trini patrons boycotting
those tents because of a handful of calypsonians
who have been accused of performing distasteful
and disrespectful calypsoes against them. Are those
people right to do so...staying away from the tents?
I see nothing wrong with that, and I would certainly
feel awkward if I were an Indo-Trinidadian paying
my money to hear somebody disrespect me. It is like
you telling me to pay and come to hear somebody
insult me...I would be condoning that very unac-
Don t calypsonians have some kind of poetic
I agree that calypsonians have a moral licence to
sing about everything in the country, but it went a
bit overboard so much so that calypsonains did not
see that they were shooting themselves in the foot.
Once the East Indians started to stay away from
the tents, the Syrians and others, the tents were
unable to support themselves.
You ask Machel Montano and he would tell you
that you need a cross section of the people to come
to his shows because his fan base is wide and varied.
So too in days gone by, there were a lot of of people
who would come to the tent just to hear David Rudder,
and that speaks volumes for what people like in this
country regardless of their race, creed or colour.
How do you feel personally when those fellows
would come on stage and sing songs which people
felt were derogatory to one section of our popu-
I never liked it and being in the tent at the time,
there were sometimes when I said to myself "You
know you need to come out of it as well."
Because by being in it somehow you were condoning
that kind of disrespectful behaviour.
I always like to look at things in a holistic manner
without doing anything to offend anybody in the
society as I want to attract everybody, I do not want
to attract Indians alone. And I can safely say that
when Rikki Jai walks down Frederick, George, Charlotte
streets the amount of people who hail me out... Not
only Indians. All the vendors know me and that is
something I worked hard for, and all artistes should
follow that road and not alienate one section of the
population for political reasons.
Mr Jaimungal, why you have never delved into
the hardcore political arena in your calypso reper-
I have stayed out because Trinidad and Tobago is
a small country and everybody blood is near to their
skin. I have worked to develop my name here and
I think, I might be wrong, I am well liked by one and
all, and we as a society are not yet that mature for
artistes to openly support political parties as it is
done in other parts of the world.
When this is done here, they brand you one time.
You run the chance of going to Skinner s Park and
getting "lick down" or somewhere else getting booed,
because the maturity in our thinking is not just there.
I keep my political allegiance to myself and I give
the people of Trinidad and Tobago, Rikki Jai, the
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