From his 1988 single Sumintra to his 2019 offering Remedy, chutney soca superstar Samraj “Rikki Jai” Jaimungal showed why he has been able to stay relevant for the past 30 years as he dished out hits old and new at The Rig Restaurant and Lounge in San Fernando on Saturday.
In what turned out to be one of the hottest musical pelaus of soca, chutney and chutney soca for the 2019 Carnival season, the Guardian Media-sponsored Jaikonic fete in honour of Jai’s three decades in the business saw the legend erasing the generational lines. The old, young and in between were singing choruses to his songs as he rolled back to the years of his decorated career. And if you think he is slowing down, the nine-time Chutney Soca Monarch signalled his intention to cop his tenth title by denying the likes of Ravi B and KI Persad, who are contenders in the race for next Saturday’s showdown. Even a few of next week’s finalists endorsed him as the next monarch.
Starting with Leh We Fete, a song that has been known to evoke happiness and clean fun among the party-loving society, he then belted out his 2011 White Oak and Water hit, which won him the first $2 million Chutney Soca Monarch prize to ever be offered. On this night dedicated to him, the music brought energy to the legs of patrons who sat at tables for most of the night and had them bending low in front of the stage.
Making sure the audience was warmed and ready for Rikki Jai was Nadia Batson, who needed only two songs to stir. Batson was ready for a sweat as she took off her heels and got up close and personal with the fetters who sang along with her catchy 2019 So Long hit and her 2018 single Catching Feelings. Other artistes such as Third Bass and Swappi also got intimate with the audience, while Russell Mohammed and Daddy Chinee kept the dance swinging. Ensuring that it never got boring during the change of bands, Kenneth Seepersad evoked scandalous laughter, reminding all that his talents were just not music but also comedy.