There are so many different ways to understand smart. One can be smartly dressed, one can outsmart someone else. It’s possible to even be too smart for your own good. There is also being clever, and of course there is brilliance that comes with being what others may envy as extraordinarily smart. Let’s not forget the smart that refers to feeling pain, or shame or remorse. Smart is also described as saucy and pert. And finally, if someone is vigorous and active, they qualify as smart as well. Indeed, smartness, in so many of its forms, was on display at the 2013 Quarter Finals.
It seems that a burst of intellectuality overflowed at last night’s Quarter Finals. Calypso stepped out of simple humour and charming wit into the realm of heavily sophisticated, provoking, sociology, much to the judges‘ approval. Beno’s blest voice and matching confidence was worthy of a Caricom Heads of Government audience as he warned us all to not be too complacent as individual island nations are we are On the Same Boat. Sye, easily comfortable on a stage, demanded a G20 audience as he promoted the Legacy of calypso and the role it can continue to play on the world stage.
Very related to intellectuality, as many smart people would say, is philosophy. Smart people will also say that the philosophers–deep thinkers, are rational, calm, theorists who are often right. In addition, it isn’t just what they say, but that they have the perfect voice to say it with. The judges were pleased to have local, current philosophers. Webb, with that gifted voice, exhorted all sectors of society to question themselves on the Legacy they will leave behind based on their choices today. Prophets think alike as The indomitable, faithful, Checker, informed us that our actions alive, will directly affect how we are remembered When (we) Die. Bobb, Olympic vocal gymnast, with his unique flair, offered hope, that all isn’t yet lost, We have to Find a Way. Soul Puss, a mythical siren, provided what an audience member deemed the third installment in his call to stand against oppression. He not only touched the crowd but moved them as well with “Not a Dictator.” Explosion emphasized as best he could, in a more direct way than usual, that only when we Unite can we make progress, while Black Diamond, safely, tamely, suggested that a medium for expression is obvious through the Power of Calypso.
Smartness has a certain practicality about it. There are those who feel that there is little room for grandstanding as they simply want to get to the point. Some calypsonians felt they had something to say, and would simply say it whether we wanted to hear it or not. Luckily for them, we wanted to hear it, and the judges even more so. Hunter wanted to cry out for Another Young Man Gone. We listened and empathized. Scrunter saw a need for healing in the family and we were quite prepared to accept his Family Medication. Rachel, new but by no means shy, gave us no choice. Gifted with a natural musical instrument she compelled us to listen and be concerned, about the Disappearing men. Ghetto Prince wisely warned against Stockfarm Blues. Ras Kelly found one of the roots of Hunter, Rachel and Scrunter’s worries. And with eyes tightly shut–literally–his passion, or caution, stirred souls as he explained that Papa, It’s You. Problem exposed, Lady Star proposed the solution–fixing the Bail system. We, judges included, concurred. Unfortunately, it seems that only problems and solutions interested the judges as, observations on less Progress from Triumph as well as consequences from the even more pronounced, Violence, so incredibly well proposed by Chris B, went ignored!
Being clever is a funny thing. Brer Anansi gets away with it often enough. But to truly get away with it, several aspects of a formula must be fulfilled. Elements of wit, quick thinking mixed with a perfect con-artist delivery are just some of the elements. Your target shouldn’t too easily realize they are being caroused. Brer Anansi may also add that while the strategy may be to distract on one hand, focus of intent is paramount. Man Himself led the pack with Liars. Having mastered the wit, and having no shortage of experience and confidence, he was a good start for the listening ear if not the tapping feet. Checko woke up the tapping feet, entertained the ear, but perhaps over engaged the brain to follow a consistent harmonious thread of Dentist/Teething. Comforter, who offered a more logical connection of Dentistry and teething, struggled somewhat with his delivery. Trendsetter sat on the fence of his garden. Whichever side of the fence he came down on would be fine. The warm praise he received from the audience assured that. Malpapaie, however, would remain just that, malpapaie. Sting Ray, valiant in her efforts, would find that there would be no chance to bring back (her) cousin laptop this year in such a competitive field. But she made enough of an impression of promise for things to come. Picki, disadvantaged by being the last of a long night, suffered two memory slips in a rather well-composed double-entendre, forcing him to Go back to (his) House empty handed.. Only Caressah would rise champion among the masks. Gentle Rest, proved to have all the essential elements of cleverness, flawless in all aspects, with space for a bit of humour.
A smart person knows how personal proclamations can move them along. Self inspiration can often lead to self fulfillment which is accredited by the recognition of others–particularly the judges. So, the talented vocal chords of Elektra, coupled with a formidable stage presence bellowing a Woman’s Worth, inspired and fulfilled in a similar way that the conviction and plea for justice of Deros rallied raised candles in order to Ba Yo Blanc Balen . Jama B went in a different direction by garnering amused but undaunted support and sympathy for the his Feeling the Squeeze as everyone is on his back.
A dose of socio-political commentary and proved un-smart according to the judges. Lugus, slightly excitable, but still very much in control, proved unlucky in his presentation of I Can’t Eat Concrete. Observer’s Sanity wasn’t as stable as he would have liked, while Vigilante truly had to put his tail–hand between (his) legs for another year. All interesting compositions but not quite smart enough for the class of 2013, said the judges.
Action! Energy! Vibrancy! Though not always attributed to smart, this was undoubtedly a smart way to go for Daddy Chess and Shadow Flow. Daddy Chess’ Madness was complete. He accurately justified the madness he saw around him while pulling his listeners into his reverie. Shadow Flow, a bonafide stage man proved his point quite convincingly that he just came for the Rum and the Party, staggering on stage and even being just drunk enough to stumble through a line though recovering quickly. Twanna’s energy would not be rewarded. Despite her presentation and enthusiasm, Woman Bad would not be enough to get her to the other side.
Older people often encourage younger ones by advising that being smart, is a head start to success. Well, smartness worked out to be successful for many but posed difficulties for others. Many walked away wondering who really was the smartest of them all? The judges? The audience? The band? The well-behaved weather? The answer to this question lies in hindsight. But it is perhaps too early in the season for hindsight. The calypsonians all did a great job to provide a quality show. Some favorites went through, others favorites were crushed until next year, while other favorites have some bucking up to do as we move along to the semis.
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