Not unlike Mark Wahlberg’s screw-loose hoser in I ♥ Huckabees, Lif Up Yuh Leg an Trample is preoccupied with fire and petroleum. Less a terrific soca compilation than a force of nature, with more screaming sirens than Public Enemy’s entire discography,
Trample reaffirms soca’s particular knack for combining pelvis-grinding rhythms with fearless social commentary. It takes a carnival-centric nation to embrace a track like Bobo & Agony’s “Soca Taliban,” in which Bobo repeatedly assures authorities over an ersatz Middle Eastern rhythm matrix that “I am not bin Laden!” Trample‘s centerpiece, though, is the late Andre Tanker’s magnificent “Food Fight,” released on the eve of the Iraq fiasco. With the help of groaning Maximum Dan, Tanker analyzes the conflict as a struggle between lamb eaters and ham eaters, religious fanatics forcing the rest of the world to “take a side and jam with the Bush man or Saddam.” But Tanker knows that economics always trumps ideology: “The food is a foil, what they want is the oil.”
Trample is a vital contemporary follow-up to London Is the Place for Me, the 2002 collection of topical 1950s British calypso that was likewise co-produced by Blur’s Damon Albarn. Doug E. Slaughter’s “Trample,” which lends the new album its title, gathers a conquering army of “strong people, not no weak people” over a thundering ragga beat. Probably the world’s most viscerally overdetermined dance music, soca has room for both the Bollywood baroque of “Chrloo” as well as the proud and unselfconscious slackness of, say, Timmy’s incendiary “Bumpa Catch a Fire,” where the singer promises to “bring me watuh hose” and “make fiyuh come t’rough yuh nose.” Michael Montano’s “Fireman,” Montano & Black Stalin’s “Love Fire,” and Bunji Garlin’s “Warrior Cry” likewise light a match under T&T’s collective ass. So burn, baby, burn.