West Indian carnival is lawless, reckless fun. It is a time to become who and what you are not. The peasant masquerades as king. The married masquerade as single. The very meaning of the word 'carnival' is a celebration of the flesh. So, it's no wonder countless soca artistes have made their name singing about marital infidelity. They call it wild meat, gettin' butt, horning, or help, but Trinidad's Darryl Henry a.k.a. Farmer Nappy calls their bluff with Chippin'.
"It's all about reality. Why sing about you huggin' up a woman, and go down de road with this next man’s woman and that sort of thing, when you could go to the real point. The song is a reality check at de end of de day," said Farmer Nappy. As the father of a 16-year-old girl, he feels strongly about creating songs that show respect to women.
"Some people don't have a bother to feel the pain when a woman would feel pain, but I grew up with only women in the house," said Farmer Nappy. It all comes down to family. That's how he approaches both his music and his life.
"I'm an entertainer and I'm a guy out there. I’ve done my things already. I’ve hurt people’s feelings. You know girls, guilt and all that. But I have a girl child and I wouldn't like people to do me that. So, I pray that the father could help me know the way." The prayers began to pay off in 2007 when Nappy's female manager connected him with her cousin Mikey "Red Dawg" Hulsmeier. He's half of Barbados' stellar production duo De Red Boyz. That's the team responsible for producing Peter Ram's Woman By My Side and the tune that won Biggie Irie, the 2007 Trinidad Groovy Soca Monarch title, Nah Goin Home. After working with Trini songwriter Ginger to get the melody just right, Farmer Nappy flew out to Barbados to record Chippin'.
The song was released in June. It became an instant hit. Nappy later returned to Barbados to perform his inaugural Crop Over release at three pre-booked gigs. He would end up performing at 16 different shows before the season came to an end. Of 400 new songs released for Barbados Crop Over Festival, Chippin' finished with an enviable number six position on the charts.
Nappy may be celebrating newfound success as a solo artiste, but he's certainly not a fresh face in the soca industry. He toured with Machel Montano and Xtatik right from the beginning, playing a key role as percussionist and songwriter. If you have ever taken a wine to Big Truck, Music Farm, Big Phat Fish, or Footsteps, then you're already a Farmer Nappy fan.
"That is home sweet home. That is like the lamp. Take business out of it and as they say, blood is thicker than water. Machel’s mom is a mother to me and Machel’s dad is a father to me. They practically raised me. Machel is like my brother," said Farmer Nappy.
He surrounds himself with those who understand true kinship. That's what led to collaborations on Wildness and Capsize with Oungku of Antigua's Red Hot Flames. "I look up to Oungku. Other than being in Xtatik, the only other band I could see myself being around is Red Hot Flames. Because Burning Flames are brothers and a nephew. At the end of the day, I based on family," said Nappy.
Now that the dust has settled on Trinidad Carnival, Farmer Nappy says, he has set his sights on being billed as "The King of Groovy".
"I'm staying in the slow groove, because the slow groove working for me. I want to stay with the woman theme because it's a message I trying to send across too," said Nappy. "You have to have respect for the ladies because at the end of the day, women made us. We as entertainers are the messengers. That is why we sing."
Farmer Nappy is already hard at work increasing his repertoire. He anticipates releasing 4 tracks for next season, beginning at Crop Over. There may even be a collaboration with his mentor Chris "Tambu" Herbert. In the meantime, fans can hug up their own lovers and look forward to more of what Chippin' has to offer.