Bouyon is a kind of soca music from the Lesser Antilles island of Dominica, which originated in the late 80’s and is said to be invented by the band Windward Carribean Kulture.
Also, ‘bouyon’ is creole for the French word ‘bouillon’, which means ‘stock’ or ‘soup’ as a metaphor for the music which is a blend of different local (Carribean) styles, a musical ‘soup’.
According to Wikipedia: “Bouyon in effect represents a fusion of zouk and soca music but also draws upon cadence-lypso, jing ping and lapo kabwit elements in term of rhythms. Bouyon music is very dependent on the drum machine, cowbell and keyboards with guitars receding into the background. As such, it has a very strident rhythm and is aptly referred to as jump up music by the population in Guadeloupe and Martinique.”
some examples of these fusion styles >
An article at Cakafete Family elaborates further; “Like the other Francophone musics of the Lesser Antilles, Dominican folk music is a hybrid of African and European elements. The quadrille is an important symbol of French Antillean culture, and is, on Dominica, typically accompanied by a kind of ensemble called a Jing Ping band. In addition, Dominica’s folk tradition includes folk songs called bélé, traditional storytelling called kont, masquerade, children’s and work songs, and Carnival music.”
some Jing Ping sounds:
From the start, bouyon bands and producers mixed up acoustic, electric and electronic sounds and instruments like accordeon, synth, organ, guitar, bass, brass, drums, steel pans etc.
A mix by dj Easy of old skool bouyon:
But under the influence of a global dj-culture – the emergence of dj’s, mc’s, producers, clubs and new music production technologies – the bouyon sound has evolved into rough digital club music. In the Carribean, in terms of music output, probably the most dense and diverse region of this planet, it’s of no surprise that ragga dancehall from Jamaica or Martinique and soca from St Lucia, Grenada or Trinidad, were a big influence on the evolution of bouyon.
Reketeng or bouyon dancehall (muffin):
Bouyon soca from St Lucia:
Power soca from Grenada:
“On pourrait même faire un deuxième volume du kamasutra en regardant les différents « main a tè…, fess en lè ».”. (“Looking at the different “hands on yer…, booty in the air”, one could even make a second volume of the Kamasutra”)
A recent new substyle – from the last 3 years or so- is called ‘hardcore‘, with ‘bouyon gwada‘ as its Guadeloupean equivalent. It is bouyon with raw, often explicit sexual or violent lyrics, either in English, French or Creole, on heavy percussive riddims while melodies sound cheap, simplified and stripped down. Often one succesful riddim has, in a true reggae dancehall style, different versions. The accompanying dance moves are a mix of booty shaking and dynamic adult sex positions, kind of similar to American twerking, Ivorian mapouka (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IbJZ23yrUA) or Brasilian ‘popozuda’ shaking in baile funk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnnApv5940A).
This new bouyon from the French Antilles is gaining popularity all over the Carribean, competing with the local dancehall scene for the attention of the audience, although the lines between the two scenes are blurred. With dancehall singers doing bouyon and vice versa, playing for the same kind of audience.
Internationally, it took until december 2012 before the first dominican and guadeloupean mc’s and dj’s came to Paris, home to a large part of the antillian diaspora in France. There’s a 50 min documentary in French & creole of the first and impressive performance in Paris of Suppa, Gaza Girls, Dj Joe and others, although the questions of the interviewer are not necessarily more interesting than the answers of the interviewees, which we don’t fully understand neither, because it’s in Creole.
And another docu:
Unfortunately, bouyon is also ‘hardcore’ because of an associated context of violence, drugs, alcohol and weapons, which relates to the state of global poverty as experienced in the ‘banlieues’, ‘favela’s’, ‘musseques’, ‘townships’, in short, the ‘slums’ of this world. And it can go pretty fast sometimes, with the featured singer General Suppa been stabbed to death in May 2013 and more recently, with Miky Ding La, who has been shot during a show, but survived with only light injuries.
Footage from Suppa’s funeral in bouyon style:
With Miky Ding La (weed, tou lè jou!) we’re in the heart of a ‘worried parents’ storm. A Guadeloupean article for example, first neutrally discusses its origins, then turns into rejecting bouyon for being ‘pornophonie’ to finally call for a ban. One of the comments: “Si on devait se mettre à la place d’un cerveau pour imaginer toutes ces paroles, la première chose qui vous viendrait à l’esprit c’est un film porno ! Alors si un film porno est interdit au moins de 18 ans… le Bouyon Gwada devrait l’être aussi ! Logique non ? … Ben non !”
translation > “If we had to put ourselves in the place of a brain in order to imagine all these words, the first thing that would come to mind is a porn movie! So if porn movies are forbidden for -18 years, then the Bouyon Gwada should also be forbidden! Logical, no? Apparently not!”
This is probably the nightmare they’re thinking of:
and this recent blogpost shows Dominican complaints about the new Triple Kay song ‘Pum Pum Getting Big’
From a local point of view we can’t tell how popular or how marginal it is in Guadeloupe. Although, looking at the relative high numbers of hits on youtube ranging in average from 5.000-50.000+, for clips from bouyon artists coming from such small islands (70.000+ people), you can imagine that the battle for censorship will be tough to continue.
On the other hand, the bouyon club music is also an example of how cheap computers, midi interfaces, internet access, Fruity Loops and other free or cracked music software, have become global catalysts for creating new music styles in a DIY fashion, which are, unlike most euro-anglo-american pop, firmly rooted in local, transnational and diasporic music traditions. The Fruity Loops generation makes tribal guarachero, baile funk, kwaito house, coupé décalé, azonto, kuduro, pandza, digital cumbia and bouyon is certainly no exception to this.
After making this mixtape, we found out that earlier this year, the great German dj and selector Marflix had already made an excellent podcast of bouyon. His mix features some of the riddims we also picked up, but in different versions and it is more soca influenced: http://marflix.me/2013/03/riddims-tropicale-29-bouyon-edition/
disclaimer to our Bouyon Hardcore mixtape: Ghetto music may sound offensive, stupid or dumb to some people but Rebel Up! does not necessarily agree with the content of the lyrics of the songs featured in this mixtape nor glorifies their message here.
about the island of Dominica (from wikipedia)
“Christopher Columbus named the island after the day of the week on which he spotted it, a Sunday (dominica in Latin), 3 November 1493. (…) France had a colony for several years, importing African slaves to work on its plantations. In this period, the Antillean Creole language developed. France formally ceded possession of Dominica to Great Britain in 1763. Great Britain established a small colony on the island in 1805. Britain emancipated slaves occurred throughout the British Empire in 1834. By 1838, Dominica became the first British Caribbean colony to have a legislature controlled by an ethnic African majority. In 1896, the United Kingdom took governmental control of Dominica, turning it into a Crown colony. Half a century later, from 1958 to 1962, Dominica became a province of the short-lived West Indies Federation. On 3 November 1978, Dominica became an independent nation.”