Nailah Blackman signs a major deal with American music label Big Money Records (BMR), a subsidiary of industry titans Republic Records.

Who’s next?

Kes opens the door and Nailah walks right through it and doesn’t look back.

KES sets free his creative mind on new album project.

Exposure. That’s the major missing element to truly take Soca music global, says genre frontrunner Kes (Kees Dieffenthaller).

Kes, speaking via video with the Kitcharee between gigs on Carnival Friday afternoon said he was elated to hear about soca princess Nailah Blackman signing a major deal with American music label Big Money Records (BMR), a subsidiary of industry titans Republic Records.

Blackman signed a three-year recording and distribution deal with BMR at Republic’s offices in New York, last Monday (2/5/24).

On Friday, Kes, who helped introduce Nailah to soca fans with their 2016 Mical “Teja” Williams-written hit collaboration “Work Out”, says he’s immensely proud to see Nailah take another huge step towards “discovering her true self’.

“I eh go lie dawg, I happy to be a part of her story,” Kes beamed with genuine enthusiasm.

“Nailah has always been who she is. An artiste is an artiste since they born and is about you discovering yuhself. So, she’s on the journey towards herself and this is part of that journey,” he continued.

Kes has worked with foreign labels in the past, most recently releasing the Kes the Band We Home album under California, USA-based Ineffable Records. The fact that soca acts are now in position to be a part of the international conversation is huge credit to the growth of the genre, he added.

“I’m very happy that deals and records are now just part of the conversation that we could actually be. It wasn’t like that all the time my G. So, to be in a moment where this one sign by this one and that one doing that, that’s just amazing,” Kes said.

Nailah is an ideal choice to open further doors for the genre and become “a world force”, Kes said.

“I feel like Nailah is such a good conduit for something like that. She started off in other expressions of us and then got into soca and continued to bend the genres in the ways she wanted to. I’m excited for her, to really explode creatively and really and truly become a world force,” he said.

Nailah’s success will ultimately mean a greater spotlight on soca music but it would ultimately take the combined efforts of all the genre’s major players to achieve greater international recognition, Kes postulated.

“I feel now is more about exposure than what we do. What we do already is beautiful, its catchy and loved and people can love for years and years. We just need that proper exposure, those proper circles to be in and people actually, discovering us for the first time. I think Nailah is on a journey to do that and I wish her the very best.

“But, the entire industry needs to do it together. It can’t just be one person. It needs multiple fronts goin’ on for a movement to happen. That mentality need to come into play where everybody playing a role. Everybody is important to the whole movement,” he explained.

Tearing up the blueprint

Still buzzing from the successful staging of his annual “Iz We” concert and amped Kes says he is focused on continuing to lay solid foundations he can build upon.

“Iz We was amazing. I feel like it’s a good base. In everything you have to always keep learning, yuh have to always keep growing, but I believe that the show was executed amazingly and I’m excited to see what the next is for it. It’s a great start for a next phase,” he said.

That next phase comes in the form of his upcoming album The Man with No Door. Kes says some of the material on the recently completed project might just surprise fans.

“It’s been a while (in the making), through Covid and all of it. I had a body of music I just wanted to put out. It’s definitely calypso rooted, soca rooted, but at the end of the day is the interpretation and having fun with it.

“We call it Man With No Door because is free creativity. Yuh gonna find stuff spanning the Caribbean and spanning the world, but yet yuh gonna feel a sense of calypso and soca and who we are. That’s the best way I can explain it,” he beamed through a wide genuine smile.

The Palmiste-born artiste worked with several international producers on the album, adding that fans “gonna get me singing some stuff yuh never hear me sing”.

“Is one of dem kinda albums. I wanted to set, again, another base to set the pace for the future. Being free creatively. From this you can understand where I want to carry music. Its a great introduction to where we could take it, so let’s have fun,” he continued.

Musicians and entertainers in T&T have to be fearless, create with no limits and go beyond the known methods, Kes said.

“Blueprints are nothing. At the end of the day tomorrow you can make a new blueprint. I just on what ah feelin’ right now. To try and feel what yuh feeling right now is where de energy will go into. Whether I need to go back into nature or wherever to hear myself, hear wha I feelin, thas de most important part. So, if tomorrow it carrying me somewhere I want to be aware enough to know where to go… creativity is like that,” he said.

A mischievous smile creeped across his face as he hinted of his further intentions to do just that and create new avenues.

“Ah have some plans for home next year. It going and take something, but ah going and do wha ah have to do and yuh go know when yuh know. Bless!” Kes concluded before disappearing out of frame.

Original Story by Michael Mondezie