Last year Shaquille Layne was holding a girl as Collateral at Bushy Park as one of the Sweet Soca finalists; this year he is issuing an Ultimatum.
While he will not be at Bushy Park this year as part of Soca Royale, the singer said he would still be visible and present for Crop Over.
“Last year was a great year. I said great because it opened my eyes to a lot of things in the music industry itself and it taught me a lot as well. I was able to build a lot of meaningful business relationships. Promoters were booking me for shows and events and I was able to bill myself as an artiste. Before that I was releasing music and not getting the chance to perform for audiences, but this song and the opportunity to be in the Sweet Soca finals was different. I even got to travel to the United States and do different carnivals.”
Shaquille story isn’t new. He has been on the music scene since 2014, when in his debut year he went to the Party Monarch finals. He then went to the Sweet Soca semi-finals in 2015. He didn’t make the cut in 2016. He came back last year with a renewed mindset, and with friends and family in his corner, he decided to enter the competition again.
“Collateral was a popular song. I was blown away by the people’s response to it. This year my goal was to bring good music to follow up from having a good year last year. I actually wasn’t thinking of entering competition but my parents and friends said to enter. Up to the tenth hour of the deadline I didn’t even submit the song as yet. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to, and I had two songs that I was undecided which one to use.”
He said that circumstances also had him not releasing more songs and also only releasing two songs late in the season.
It works against him that he is not a full-time musician.
“A lot of factors contributed to how things went this year. I have to find the time to write and I wrote both songs, Ultimatum (produced by De Men Pruhduktionz) and Arms Wide Open (produced by Decibel Productions).”
He was disappointed that he didn’t make the semis but said that he wouldn’t let that break his spirit.
“If you are not strong enough competition will break you. As a young artiste I have been mentoring a lot of younger artistes trying to come up in the industry and what I have realised is that to them everything is about competition and getting into competitions. When they are trying to write their songs they are thinking about it being for a competition.
“I was like that too, so I get it, but now I realise that you can do good still if you didn’t make it into a competition. I have seen some artistes who gave up on their songs, not pushing it, because of disappointment of competition.”
Shaquille said that he is now focused on building a catalogue to increase his marketability. He said his fan base is growing and that is also a plus.
“I have gotten bookings this year that I didn’t get last year. The new songs are getting radio play and people are coming up to me saying they love them.”
He said he was looking forward to getting to Trinidad Carnival. Concerning next year’s competition he was non-committal: “Let us stick a pin on that. I am not sure about competition next year but I will still make music.” (NS)