Radial Brings Soca to the World with Curated Family Friendly Playlists


You many have seen me tweeting the folks over at Radial over the past month or so. I am terrible at holding information, so now I can tell you what we have been up to. 

 *breathe Eva*

When my husband and I were dating, he went to his first Trini fete… a house party. The first thing that struck him was that parents partied with their adult children, and for a time, even the kids were allowed to come to the basement and dance a bit. Liquor wasn’t hidden from the kids, it was out in plain sight, but the little ones knew better than to touch it. That’s kind of how soca works in the Caribbean American (British, Canadian, etc.) home.  

We party together. We sing and dance together. My kids learned to wine as soon as they could stand up. Not from videos, but from grandma in the kitchen when she was visiting. I taught them to jump and wave, and how to swing a rag around their head like a propeller.  They practiced following instructions with, “do de Iwer, Butterfly, Shadow…. Wave!” The music and the dancing isn’t hidden, but the kids know how far to go, what lyrics to repeat, and what lyrics to skip. 

(I talked with Andre and Abay about SocaMom and why family friendly soca is important to me. Click here to check out the interview.)

The two youngest, 10 and 11, are just starting to catch the lyrics of the songs.  In the car, I am paying attention to the road, so my 17 year old switches the song if it is getting to be to “much.” When it comes to soca, it is hard to tell what is too much because there is rarely any cursing or lude language. There is, however, a LOT of double entendre. Most of the time the sexual innuendo goes right over my kids’ heads, but every now and then, you’ll hear a faint, “oooohhhh” in the back seat because after hearing the song a hundred times, they finally “got it.” 

Enter Radial. Radial is a soca music streaming app and “the simplest way to experience and discover Soca Music.” The brains behind the app belong to two Trinidadian friends, Andre Thomas and Abay Israel, whom I interviewed, along with Phoumano Thongsithavong, Kit Israel, Jonathan Herbert, Regis Bolden and Dane Robertson.

“From Nottinghill to Trinidad, Toronto (Caribana), Grenada, New York, Jamaica, Miami, Barbados (Cropover) and all the Caribbean Carnivals, Soca junkies are looking for that one place to listen to all the music. That place is Radial. This is our community. Let us continue to build it one song at a time. Radial learns what Soca music you want to listen to based on who you follow and what you listen to. Our first version puts the music front and center.” ~ Radial on iTunes.

Our house has been filled with soca a little more than usual over the last month because we have been building our ultimate family friendly playlist on Radial. While we are still adding songs, we have come up with songs that you and the kids can listen to in the car, while you clean up, and at your evening dance parties… wait… are we the only ones that have those? Of course not. I feel like people who read this blog probably party with their kids even more than I do.

With the SocaMom playlist, I am not promising you a super sanitized list of songs. This is what I allow my kids to listen to in the car when they are riding with me. It is music that will keep me entertained but won’t make me yell back “what did you say” with every word they try to sing along.  These are a few of the phrases that I tried to avoid, but some may have slipped through…

Wine/fling/back it up 

Bend it Back

Roll it back

Go/Sih dung on/pon it

Wine on a woman/man

Drink/Rum in meh cup/me han

Peltin/Jook Waist

Take a Wine

Roll yuh bam bam/bumpa

Jiggle it/Wiggle it

Ok, I’ll admit… a few rum references made it to my playlist.  My bad.

Great thing about Radial, is that they get it. If my playlist is still not your style, there are curated lists for families such as Kiddies Carnival and Soca to the World.  I think that the fact that they acknowledge that soca does have some references that may not be suitable for children is something that definitely sets it apart from other music apps.  

(I talked with Andre and Abay about SocaMom and why family friendly soca is important to me. Click here to check out the interview.)

I talked to the creators of the app, and we spoke about how difficult it is for people who are 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation to find music, especially if they want to share it with their kids. I think the curated lists give people outside of the Caribbean the chance to experience the culture without having to be experts right off the bat. 

“We want people to discover the music through the rest of the Caribbean community,” said Andre “We want to make it easy for people to feel connected as well as stay connected to back home, as opposed to where you are growing up currently. That’s the most important thing. Staying connected to home.”

I asked whether or not there was a way for parents to be alerted to a song that is suitable for their kids to listen to.

“We are currently working on playlists that are more of the positive and uplifting type of music. Songs like ‘Good Morning,” by Olatunji … and it is all positive music – no kind of drinking or wining to the ground or anything like that, “ said Abay.

I think this is an excellent point because so often, people living abroad don’t feel connected, and to have someone in the Caribbean recommending a new song to someone living in say, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, or here in America is extraordinary.

We talked about what made Radial different from other apps.  I could tell that the creators LOVE music, and are connected to the artists who make it and the fans who enjoy it.

“We want it to be the case where artists and producers and the content creators have access to their fans and can make money from their music as well in a way that makes sense. We really want to stress that because it’s their craft and it’s their passion, and they take their time to basically give you an insight to their life and their story. We want to make sure that that’s highlighted on the app front and center. You know exactly who [the music] is coming from.”  ~ Abay

Now you know that I am definitely one that if I don’t have something nice to say, I don’t say anything at all – I may recommend some things, and just be silent on others.  We talked about why I don’t do music reviews much, if at all, you can read more about that in the interview on their blog.

Their response to that was that large numbers of reviews from various sources rather than just one or two reviews is helpful to the artists so that they can see what resonates with their fans and what doesn’t.

I think this is a great way of thinking of it for a targeted app like this, because when you already have people who love the genre, their review comes from the perspective of a consumer of that type of music. Getting a rating or review from someone who doesn’t like soca to begin with or who has never heard it, isn’t nearly as helpful as feedback from within the community.

Radial is still in the beta stages but is fully functional as a streaming service. Many of my favorite songs are already loaded (and often on repeat on my iPad).  

It is available on iTunes, and is a fast, light download – that was for those of you who have no patience for downloads like me. I have no patience for that at all.  I have an Android phone, but I have the app on my iPad. The creators have some exciting features planned for future releases, and I encourage you to download the app and try it out. 

(I talked with Andre and Abay about SocaMom and why family friendly soca is important to me. Click here to check out the interview.)

What’s next for Radial? Social Music. “As Caribbean people, we discover music through our friends, family, DJs. Our Social feature will help you discover new music through the people you follow. Comment, like and share Soca music with other Socaholics.”

While I was excited by the concept of Radial, I am most impressed with the people behind this app. Andre is a dad who loves soca, but still isn’t ready to hear his three year old sing, “shake that bubblenut.” It’s okay to laugh.  I did. Abay is a former DJ, who lives and breathes soca music. The two met at Morehouse college.

About Andre and Abay:

Andre Thomas is cultivating his entrepreneurial instincts as the cofounder of Radial. He is passionate about music and mathematics. Besides that he is a husband, father, Canuck, Trini and Gooner (fan of Arsenal Football Club). He also loves books by Agatha Christie. Follow him on twitter at @dre7413.

Abay Israel has 10 years of experience as Research Area Specialist and Program Manager for the Resource Center for Minority Data at the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). He holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Economics from the University of Michigan and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College where he majored in Mathematics and Economics. He also served as a Caribbean DJ (radio and mobile) both back in his home country Trinidad and Tobago and in the United States for over 15 years.

Get to know them and more about soca  music on the company blog, follow them on Twitter, follow on Instagram, and become a fan on Facebook. 

Radial on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RadialMusic

Radial on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Radialtt

Radial on Instagram: http://www. instagram.com/RadialMusic

Visit their website: http://getradial.com/

Get Radial on iTunes: https://itunes.apple. com/us/app/radial-redefine- radio/id1119385750

(I talked with Andre and Abay about SocaMom and why family friendly soca is important to me. Click here to check out the interview.)