COMMENTARY: That ‘Fork in Napkin’ matter

In the interest of fairness and to provide what I believe to be a responsible contribution to a growing controversy over the originality of Hunter’s 2019 Calypso: ‘Wrapping Fork in Napkin,’ I have decided to take a welcome break from my reading demands to offer this brief commentary for public consumption and/or debate(s).

Firstly, on the matter of originality, allow me to say that nothing is new or original under the sun. I believe that both D-Daz and Hunter dealt with the same topic, but the treatment of the song is vastly different in either case. D-Daz presents what I understand to be a lampoon on Chinese cuisine, using the mask as justification to be suggestively expressive. This is a classic treatment of the calypso.

Hunter, on the other hand, approaches the project from the political point of view, as a satire against the ambitions of political opponents (I guess in the Dominica electoral system) who aspire to be elected to high office.  Hunter uses the analogy that one must get the basics in the kitchen right before they are promoted to cook or chief cook, even to the point where they are in charge of managing the authentic Chinese cuisine (Hunter is making reference to the Dominica –China diplomatic relationship/arrangements here). Like Daz, Hunter employs an element of the Calypso – the mask – to justifiably express his passion.

It is my humble opinion that both songs, though brutally identical in terms of topic, idea and punch line, are different in the other aspects. The melodic structure, lyrical choices and harmony do not correspond. As to how Hunter presents the material (both orally and visually) will give a clue as to Hunter’s kaiso genius. One can only expect that Hunter will create the sort of craft that may complement his “original” idea. Both Hunter and Daz are proficient in the area of rendition.

As per originality and how that could hurt Hunter, that is a matter for the judges to determine, but the last time I checked, originality did not carry the lion share of the points in Kaiso competitions. The Dominica Calypso Association (DCA) criteria for judging ‘The Calypso’ is as follows: Lyrics – 35 point, Melody: 35 points, Rendition: 20 points and Presentation: 10 points. Of course, this may have since changed and if, say, originality now carries 35 points – which I doubt – Hunter may be well advised to revise his choice of topic and/or song for the competition.  In the present set up, I believe that originality falls under the heading of Lyrics, and it carried about 5 point or less (do not quote me on that).

The discussion which is now brewing, and other such discussions, creates the sort of interest in the art form of Calypso which should be embraced and encouraged by all. Calypso continues to be a significant exponent of Dominica’s culture and we should applaud the practitioners, administrators, sponsors, patrons and fans et al. who continue to make Calypso a significant and relevant practice.

Let me take the opportunity to commend the DCA on the commencement of yet another season of competition – its 41st. It is my wish that the best performer(s) at each given round of elimination advance or win. I also hope that the political partisan bickering which has seemingly overridden the Dominican society is kept out of the one remaining entity – Calypso – which seeks to address oppression of the citizenry. I believe in the neutrality of the administrators of the art in Dominica, even while they hold their own individual party allegiances and biases.

With that stated, because of Hunter’s well articulated partisan affiliation and biases, the challenges which he now face would, in great part, stem from anti-political/partisan factions. And this is fair game. The game should not, however, be extended to the authentic merit of his Calypso. It is also sort of puzzling that Hunter has had no knowledge of the existence of D-Daz 2011 song which carries the same name as his 2019 song, but I have to take him at his word.

The one demerit in this widely debated issue appears to be originality and the public reserves the right to discuss this at length. I guarantee you that there shall be other such issues before the 2019 Calypso season is over. Let may say, by means of a disclaimer, that I do not have any knowledge of Hunter’s Trinidadian Calypsonian counterpart partisan political views – nor does it matter.

Calypso is a conduit for social commentary which must concentrate on electoral-partisan politics and governance which also includes opposition. This is actually what Calypso was created to be; a force against administrative oppression, injustice and all other such forms. Calypso does not or should not target the oppressed in the interest of the oppressor, but that is another debate.

I appeal for fairness and inclusion in the interest of DA Calypso.

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19 Comments

  1. mamizoo
    January 17, 2019

    Alex U get what you are trying to do and in all sincerity I dont think you made a compelling argument for Hunter. I still remain a fan of Hunter and there is no doubt that he has made us proud. Like you ve said Hunter name too entrenched in the sect where ethics, Truth, morality have alm gone to the dogs. It is because of Hunter’s adopted doctrine that he was caught palming lyrics and it is because of Hunter’s partisan biases that the quality of work that he has produced over the past 15 years does not even come close to what we expect from him. An artist must never allow his or her biases to limit artistic expression. Alex tried to make a case for Hunter but anyone who listens to the song can identify stack similarities in the story line and the scenario created in telling the story. What really Hurt hunter is the use of the satirical expression fork in napkin. An artist of Hunter’s calibre should have just stayed in away from this mess.

  2. mine
    January 17, 2019

    What you expect from Alex just a hard core hater. Dice sings the tunes every year.

  3. Ivenia Samuel
    January 17, 2019

    Mr. Alex Bruno, if is one time i disagree with you is Now. And for Hunter to say he doesnt know about Winston daz Noel song, i dont believe him.

  4. Frank N Stein
    January 17, 2019

    Thank God for Skerrit song is the same tune as Play one for Melo aka Lord Melody

  5. Calypso Lover
    January 17, 2019

    Alex are you seriously trying to justify this blatant plagiarism from hunter? The Dominica Calypso Association needs to do something about this. We’ve had way too many of these in Dominica’s calypso.

    Scrunter: Dominca I do
    Senator: Aunty man
    Karessah: Flush it
    Hunter: Fork in Napkin
    Just to name a few. Come on this is totally unacceptable

    • Truth Hurts
      January 17, 2019

      And, I guess the likes of you have no problem with King Dice singing recycled lyrics and melodies every year while winning crowns after crowns right? Bloody hypocrites!!!

  6. Calypso critique
    January 17, 2019

    Mr. Bruno this is an excellent piece. I wish you would also write a piece on King Dice continued use of the same melody, same basic beat, same musical arrangements and the same theme. Clearly King Dice Song this year is just a replica of other songs he sang in the past. Dice song this year “Jumbie Money” is a prime example of the lack of originality in Dominica Calypso.

    • zandoli
      January 17, 2019

      When DICE says “Dice again”, perhaps he means you are getting the same thing again, and again, and again.

      Don’t say you weren’t warned.

    • Dee
      January 17, 2019

      This comment makes no sense. You are concerned about Dice repeating melodies but agree with Alex that Hunter should get a pass on blatant copying. Nonsense

      • Joe Linton
        January 18, 2019

        Dee “This comment makes no sense. You are concerned about Dice repeating melodies but agree with Alex that Hunter should get a pass on blatant copying. Nonsense”

        compare your statement with what was actually written by calypso critique..

        “Mr. Bruno this is an excellent piece. I wish you would also write a piece on King Dice continued use of the same melody, same basic beat, same musical arrangements and the same theme. Clearly King Dice Song this year is just a replica of other songs he sang in the past. Dice song this year “Jumbie Money” is a prime example of the lack of originality in Dominica Calypso.”

        Pay close attention to the first line…. ahhhh … so now you get it… good he is asking Alex to write a piece on DICE AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN 9 TIMES….

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  7. Pedroito
    January 16, 2019

    admin why can I not see any of my posts absolutely anytime I contribute you refuse to allow freedom of expression enshrined in our Constitution.

    ADMIN: We see you made a post just two minutes before this one that was approved. If you are referring to another post let us know. If you need assistance, you can also email us at duravisioninc@gmail.com

    • zandoli
      January 17, 2019

      DNO, lately I have seen a distinct change in the way you respond to people who are critical of your action (real or perceived). I find you more cordial, and much more open to accommodating criticism. I like the new style of handling objections. This to me is a much more professional approach than the more aggressive style you employed in the past.

      Kudos to you.

      ADMIN: “You adapt, evolve, compete or die.” – Paul Tudor Jones. Thank you. We appreciate all your feedback and will continue to use it to grow and improve.

  8. Pedroito
    January 16, 2019

    sir, you kept contradicting your own self over and over so that half way I stopped reading as too lengthy for a one paragraph excuse for an identical song.

  9. Culture Lover!
    January 16, 2019

    This is plagerismn to the highest degree and its a cardinal sin in the “Kaiso/Calypso” world:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qoyy6V1y2pI

  10. Disappointed Fan
    January 16, 2019

    Disappointed. Hunter is just too good a calypsonian to have himself embroiled in this type of controversy. Again.

    • Joe Linton
      January 17, 2019

      what is the controversy you talk about??? is it because Alex said there is controversy?? this is a great song properly mask that can be represented anywhere in the world which is much more i can say for “I want my child money” bull crap!!!!!

  11. Child of Itassi
    January 16, 2019

    Thanks for the brilliant commentary Mr. Bruno.
    Looking forward to your “other debate” as hinted in your closing statement.

    Personally, I think that controversy around Calypso targeting the oppressed in the interest of the oppressor can stimulate and inspire rebuttal styles.

    May sound crazy but wouldn’t it be great to see Skerrit and Linton (or talented representations) competing against each other in Kaiso?

    • mine
      January 16, 2019

      Why can’t you leave Skeritt alone. The only thing know jealousy is a sin.

    • KID ON THE BLOCK
      January 16, 2019

      Why Skerrit and not you?!

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