By George Alleyne
With Barbados’ Crop Over 2018 in full swing, thousands of party-crazy Bajans and visitors to the island will crowd Bushy Park Sunday to hear 17 young and not-so-young artistes compete for the Sweet Soca and Party Monarch titles.
Nine will vie for the Sweet Soca title, and this crown is sure to go on to a new head as defending sovereign, Red Plastic Bag (RPB), has retired from competition.
There will be no such foretold changing of heads to be adorned with the Party Monarch crown as the man with the record of most titles in this division, Lil Rick ‘Hypa Dawg’, is one of the finalists putting his mouth in.
The veterans had ruled the finals last year with Lil Rick romping home for his sixth Party Monarch, delivering a lively piece, ‘Energy’, and RPB bringing waves to the crowd to take the Soca Monarch for the second time with ‘Boat Ride’.
The sixth victory for Hypa Dawg was a record as he became the first performer in this Crop Over competition to earn six victories.
With the legend RPB retired, he will be watching a line-up of veteran performers seeking to replace him. They are Adrian Clarke, Biggie Irie, Bo Bo, Damian Marvay, Imani, iWeb, Lil Rick, Mikey and Sanctuary Vibez. The reserve is Nikita.
Hypa Dawg will be defending his crown against a mixture of newcomers and veterans. Ashawnya and Chrissy D are the first-timers among well-known campaigners Mac Fingall, Mikey, Mistah Dale, Mr Blood and iWeb, Nikita and Stiffy.
The departure of RPB, given name Stedson Wiltshire, from the competitive stage marks the end of his participation in entertaining contests since 1982.
Officially appointed one of Barbados’ cultural ambassadors last year, he leaves the competition stage having won 10 Pic-O-De-Crop with the last win being in 2012 in this premier category.
In addition to his Sweet Soca win in 2017, he also held that crown in 2011.