Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 19th 2016 Contents A27
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Griotism is that rarest of Carnival
albums, a full collection of music,
prepared and produced before the
formal start of the season, and
released for public evaluation.
That s something the market hasn t
seen in decades.
First, calypsonians and singers field-
tested their new work over the season
before compiling it into an album after
Carnival and then abandoned the
album format almost completely.
The only performer to reliably release
a complete and formally packaged
album of music anymore is Machel
Montano and it s left to pirates to create
ad hoc compilation CDs, some of
which are now produced on demand
or transferred directly to flash drives
in a modern era of on-the-spot digital
Calypsonians have not adjusted well
to this new reality, which first quietly
crept up and then mauled them with
a speed and completeness that must
have seemed like an all-consuming
maw of free-flowing bits.
Into a market for calypso appreci-
ation reduced to a virtual shambles,
with the system of tents existing almost
exclusively on a lifeline provided by
state funds and the attention of the
Carnival public focused, riveted, really,
on dozens of new soca releases each
week comes Kurt Allen with Griotism.
Give the young composer and singer
this---he s tackling the reality of modern
music consumption with gusto and
guts, releasing the album in full on a
pay what you wish basis in the middle
of last month.
On its first day, 179 visitors to his
website (http://ow.ly/WQJmM) down-
loaded the album, all declining the
opportunity to pay anything.
By the time this review was filed,
that number had climbed to 2,103.
In response to questions about his
decision to give away an album he paid
more than $100,000 to produce, Allen
explained that he wanted to "get the
message in the music out."
"The world has already moved away
from downloads and global trend is
music streaming and people are no
longer motivated to purchase music
that is free to their fingertips," Allen
"Once you place your music on
YouTube it s automatically free for
anyone anywhere in the world to
download so again there is no moti-
vation to buy what is already free.
"On a more intimate level, the deci-
sion was made due to the fact that
calypso is no longer the musical choice
of Carnival and as a result it has been
completely shut out from the airwaves
for some time now. My supporters
know a lot about me and my reputa-
tion, but they don t know a lot of my
music because the only time they hear
it is at the monarch finals at Skinner
Park since most don t attend the tent
"I can t afford to cry and complain
and point fingers of blame. That s very
exhausting and yields little or no sus-
tainable result and eventually wears
you down. I decided to create my own
opportunity to be given a hearing."
The album is a surprising and
unequivocal offering. Listening to it
the first time I remembered David
Rudder talking about creating "calyp-
songs" during his first groundbreaking
year of performance.
Allen is working from that playbook
throughout Griotism, offering an
album that pulls together a range of
influences and moods to create a var-
ied, intriguing and intelligent collec-
tion of songs.
The album opens seductively with
Goddess Calypso, which takes the
inspiration for its refrain from an old
Is there still room for the griot?
Actor Cuba Gooding, Jr, who
portrays OJ Simpson in FX's ten-part
miniseries on the 1995 murder trial,
said he didn't want to meet the former
football star as part of his research for
taking on the role.
Gooding, who would not reveal at a
news conference Saturday his opinion
on whether Simpson stabbed his
former wife Nicole and her friend
Ronald Goldman to death in June
1994, said the Simpson he needed to
portray in the television film was a
much different man then, swaggering
"I had no desire to visit him in his
present condition, being incarcerated
and being a shell of a man," he said.
Gooding said he gained weight and it
took him a month to recover from the
gruelling six-month filming.
The project, with executive producer
Ryan Murphy and actors like John
Travolta, David Schwimmer, Malcolm
Jamal-Warner and Gooding, has been
getting strong word-of-mouth before
its February 2 premiere. Based on a
book by CNN's Jeffrey Toobin, writers
and producers said they worked hard
to make the docudrama as authentic
as possible. (AP)
Gooding said he didn't want to meet with OJ Simpson
Continues on Page A30
I can't afford to cry and complain
and point fingers of blame.
That's very exhausting and
yields little or no sustainable
result and eventually wears you
down. I decided to create my own
opportunity to be given a
hearing. --- Kurt Allen
Kurt Allen performing at the finals of the 2012 Calypso Monarch competition. PHOTO: MARK LYNDERSAY
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