Lil Rick during his performance at 1Love. (Picture by Insight Digital.)
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TWO SUNDAYS AGO Ricky Reid was among eight other entertainers preparing to go on stage at Bushy Park for the Party Monarch concert. When the noise abated and the scores were tallied he had scored a perfect 100 to take home the title for the fifth time.
This one was extra special as this was his first win at this venue.
“My aim is to win one at all the locations they held Party Monarch and so Bushy Park was next.”
Lil Rick, born Ricky Reid, has been in the music business for the past 31 years, but this year celebrates 20 years on the soca scene.
“I was never into soca but was drawn into it by producer Peter Coppin. I was always into dancehall,” he said.
Since that Sunday, Lil Rick has added two more titles to the many others he has won: Tune Of De Crop for the most played song on the road on Kadooment Day and Stag Jam Tune for most played song on Foreday Morning.
Lil Rick, a well-known deejay first and foremost, got into that business by following in the footsteps of his uncle, who was a deejay.
“When I was about 14 I used to follow my uncle to dancehall sessions. I was real small and short, a little head behind a big sound system. So people called me DJ Little Ricky. As I got older I cut both names down to Lil Rick.”
But he is known by other monikers, which he said started out as a gimmick.
“When I used to introduce myself I would call all sorts of stuff randomly, over the years. Like Lil Rick aka Boardface, aka Chihuahua, aka Hypa Dawg, aka Rickey Minaj and when I go out, people would remember and call me them and they would stick. So I used them over the years depending on my music and what I am bringing out.”
On the music circuit, reggae and the Jamaica style of chanting was his “ting”.
“My uncle loved country and western, and I used to play at oldies goldies. But there was some thing about how Bob Marley lyrics came across and Bunny Wailer, so I used to start to sing them but put them to my Bajan dialect.”
Lil Rick said when he started to sing and do comical rhymes, people started to recognise him.
Fortune smiled on him when he met producer Peter Coppin.
“Peter said to me you are so popular in reggae, only if you can sing a calypso song.”
Lil Rick said he always loved calypso but never thought of getting involved.
“I gave it a try in 1996 and never looked back.
“I still do my DJ music and work on radio so when I DJ it is mostly reggae music . . . . That what was really made my name in Barbados, playing the old songs from way, way back in the Jamaican music era.”
Lil Rick said when he started to fuse reggae on to the soca beat and that was when the bashment soca genre was born.
“It was a soca beat but you could hear the hard dancehall coming through.”
He said it was being criticised at first.
“But look now there is a big Bashment Soca competition,” he said, chuckling.
Some of those songs included Hard Wine and Bumper Inspector.
Lil Rick said his method of writing is to do a four-line hook to get over the story.
“That is my strategy . . . . To get over the story and the punch. That was me, even from small.”
Lil Rick said he put a lot of work into his songs. Before release, he tested them on small children to see if they like it.
“What throws me sometimes is what I think would be a big hit, didn’t get the recognition and then there are some that the people take to that I say musically wasn’t my strongest.”
And Lil Rick has had “hit after hit after hit after hit after hit”.
Too many to mention, there are the 1988 Party Monarch song Down Behind The Truck, and 2002 and 2003 he won both Party Monarch and Tune Of The Crop with Hypa Dawg and Mash Up And Buy Back, respectively.
In 2007 he won his fourth Party Monarch with Caan Wait.
Lil Rick sat out two years of Party Monarch after being discouraged by not winning.
Not one to be lazy, he put on his own concert, Dis Is Rick, which is now four years old.
“I wanted a show where the artistes could perform and Lil Rick could sing all his songs without a promoter telling me you only get three songs or you got five minutes left,” he explained.
But what prompted him to enter Party Monarch this year?
“My mind was always to write a 50th anniversary song. And to be honest I started writing one with a Trinidadian writer. Things went bad along the way so I cut that off.”
He then wrote his own song, Iz A Bajan, submitting it two days before the Party Monarch deadline.
“The song is about Barbadians to love their own. Make your country proud.
“I hear Trini To De Bone, Sweet Jamaica, Welcome To Jamrock, so why not a song about our love for being a Bajan.”
“A lot of people tell me they don’t like when I do Sweet Soca, they prefer when I hyped,” Lil Rick told EASY magazine, laughing.
And he is the height of hypeness. He has waistline movements he makes up on the spot and sometimes loses his shirts.
This Crop Over is just like the rest – with too many songs to count on rotation.
Many people have Get Thru as their personal anthem, Get Thru, he said, was written because of people who take advantage of others.
“I see a man let a man wait for an hour to give him $20. So I wrote the song based on personal experiences.”
Wine Tief is another story.
“That song was written by a Jamaican. I heard the chorus and said I wanted it. I bought it. It was more dancehall but I smoothed it off and add some more words to it and built the song around the chorus.”
Brek Down My Fence is for the ladies.
“Men like to sing about what they wanted to do to women. So I said I want the women do something to them. The man is the fence and the woman is trying to move him and shake him down.”
Lil Rick is a family man, and speaks with pride of his wife and children.
“Your last name is Smith? I just changed a Smith to Reid,” he said, making both of us burst into laughter.
He was talking about his recent marriage to long-time love Caragh Smith.
Barbadians have watched the growth of the Hypa Kids Rickara and Rinicko, and they have graced many a Crop Over stage.
In 2010, they had expressed to their father that they wanted to become involved in the art form after watching him and his oldest son and deejay Renee (Unda Dawg now Super Hype) perform Break Away in 2008.
Lil Rick decided to give the children a song which he had initially penned for himself, but which on reflection he felt would best suit the youngsters.
“My daughter is now 13 years old and my son 16 years old. She doesn’t want to focus solely on soca and I back her 100 per cent in whatever genre she wants to do . . . . Sometimes I hear her singing around the house and I am surprised at her voice range.”
What’s next for Lil Rick?
“More music. Some overseas gigs.”
But Lil Rick is also going to see how the Trinidad market looks for him.
“I know I can’t sing Iz A Bajan, so what about Wine Tief or Get Thru?” he asked. “Cause I really Get Thru.”