This week the island of Antigua celebrates Carnival, also known as The Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival. The streets will be filled with the sweet sounds of soca, calypso music, and dancehall too. As part of our Black travel series Grio Goes to: Antigua,” theGrio’s Deputy Editor Natasha S. Alford gets an inside look at the history and unique music scene on the island.

In this episode, local soca artist Menace XL narrates the history Sound Clash, a massive DJ battle with a live audience, which takes place at the Historical Fort James Plantation Venue in Antigua.  

“Sound Clash is culture. Dancehall is culture,” explains Menace XL. “I don’t care how you go around it and twist it around or if you want to try to fight it. It’s just culture. Since the days of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, coming right up, it’s always been embedded in the Carribean people and the world in general. Sound Clash is always about competition and once you add competition to anything, you get a rivalry and it brings entertainment.”

Menace also opens up about Caribbean music’s cultural connection to Africa.

“You already know how to feel when the drums come on,” Menace tells theGrio. “You already get a type of vibes. Soca is basically a wonderful job at adding some keys and some sense into different elements. But the drum pattern is actually what drives it.”

“The bass you feel it in your belly, feel it in your heart,” says the soca artist. “It drives you. So that’s why it’s always music that gives you this wonderful feeling, this happy feeling.”

“From time you hear it from the ancestors, we usually use the drums to relay messages or to celebrate something. You feel it in soca music.”  

Watch the full episode above and subscribe to theGrio’s YouTube channel to get more Black Travel Diary episodes.