CARIBIA ALBUM REVIEW: Figgy (Fitzroy O’Garro), Antigua

(Originally published at OnePaper.com)

Note: Figgy now works extensively with Spectrum Band as a songwriter/producer and continues to contribute to Soca and Calypso hits throughout the region.

Fitzroy “Figgy” O’Garro has spent many years tromping the boards of the Calypsonian, first entering the arena in 1989. He has won numerous awards and accolades for his works, and has spent time as the lead singer for the Harmonics Band. In that time, the artist has evolved into a sharp lyricist and collaborator. For a listing of his musical timeline, visit his personal webspace at http://members.spree.com/figgy2/. The songs on this LP contain contributions by W. “Shelly” Tobitt (Antigua), Humphrey “King Oluko” Monticeux (Trinidad), and Everton “Reality” Weeks (Montserrat) alongside those of Fitzroy himself.

True to Calypso tradition, Figgy has not been afraid to land squarely in the center of controversy. In 1998, he was so disillusioned with a judges’ decision at the Finals Calypso Tent, that he placed his trophy back on the stage rather than tacitly condone the outcome of the heated competition. The next V.I. Carnival season, he stuck by his convictions while accepting lyrical criticisms of his previous actions unbowed.

Figgy seemingly cannot get enough ‘cut-eye’, as he stomps hard on DJ’s and radio programmers who insist on a little ‘pay for play’. Despite the crackdown on payola that caused huge shakeups in the recording and radio industries in the 60’s and again in the 80’s, the practice is alleged to continue. Rather than try to beat them, Figgy proposes joining them… only, the rates are too dear. The solution: become ‘The Man by the Corner’ (Monticeux), hand outstretched in supplication for a dollar or two to finance a bid for airplay.

‘”C” Food’ celebrates the bounty of the sea. The expression “there are plenty of fish in the ocean”, takes on a new connotation: “Queen fish, angel, and catfish too, but right now, even a ole wife will do…” A frenetic danse-lypso rhythm pushes the tune along. A change in style follows, with the Latin-tinged ‘Digame (Talk to Me)’. Breaking the language barrier has certainly never been so intriguing!

With an ode to the romantic charms of a particular lady, the medium tempo of ‘Yo Waist’ allows for plenty of room to wine same. The next musical excursion, ‘Crow (the Cock)’ (Reality), is a fantasy in which our protagonist identifies with the most sought-after creature in the barnyard. The driving Soca beat of ‘This One’ is, as the lyrics tout, “for everyone”, suitable for any setting from the road to the dancefloor.

The wail of a saxophone heralds a romantic duet, ‘Give it to Me’ (Reality), featuring a delightfully melodic Purple and music by the Volcanyx Band. O’Garro then fends off the negative vibe caused by ‘Envy and Jealousy’, pressing on with his art and his right to express himself. The standout composition, ‘Look (What They’ve Done To My Song)’ (Tobitt), is a lament for the decline of traditional Calypso (Kaiso); Social and Political Commentary have fallen by the wayside.

For ‘Inside’, Figgy teams up with the legendary Designer to get into the band and jam de daughter-dem. Rounding out the collection is ‘Comin’ Home’ (Reality), a gentle-paced reminiscence of halcyon days spent on Figgy’s native Antigua. The LP, This One Da Bomb was recorded and mastered in Al Baptiste’s Backyard Studio (St. Croix) and Krystal Sounds Studios (New York). When it comes to reflecting the realities of life as an artist and as a citizen, This One… hits the mark.

Figgy Records, 2001.