Essay Bouyon Music


This article examines how Dominican musicians, festival organizers, and their audiences negotiate two rather slippery concepts: the complex of creole/creolization/créolité  ; and the question of borders and (im)mobilities, in other words who moves where and how. Music provides sites and sounds in which creole possibilities and mobilities of various kinds are explored, challenged, and rethought. I illustrate these ideas with reference to two types of expressly creole, Dominican popular music (cadence-lypso and bouyon) and their central role in Dominica’s World Creole Music Festival. Both genres find artists reflecting on what it means to perform creole music and how such performances might facilitate new mobilities. The World Creole Music Festival stages these genres as part of an attempt to generate global creole solidarities. The significant challenges confronting this endeavor suggest that a reevaluation of what creole can mean in Dominica and a better understanding of how these meanings are embedded in contemporary mobilities can yield new insights not only into the production and staging of Caribbean genres, but also into the nature of the creole itself.

  • © 2015 by The Regents of the University of California
Stylistic originsJing ping, Cadence-lypso, and traditional dances:bèlè, quadrille, Chanté mas and lapo kabwit, Mazurka, Zouk, etc.
Cultural originsLate 1980s - Roseau, Dominica, Guadeloupe
Typical instrumentsTambour bélé, tambou lélé, lapo kabwit, chakchak (maracas), syak or gwaj (scraper-rattle), tambal or tanbou (tambourine), accordion, acoustic drums, rhythmic guitar, keyboards,
Derivative formsjump up
Fusion genres
Bouyon Soca - Bouyon-muffin - Reketeng - Alternative Bouyon
Other topics
Music of Dominica - Jing ping - Cadence-lypso - Windward Caribbean Culture

Bouyon (pronunciation: boo-yon) is a genre of Dominican music that originated in the region of Guadeloupe and became popular in the late 1980s.[1] Bouyon music was developed by several Dominican singers such as Asa Banton, Suppa, and Gaza Girl. Bouyon began through musical collaborations between citizens of Dominica and Guadeloupe, who both speak Antillean Creole. The term Bouyon means something akin to "gumbo soup" or "coubouyon poisson" (a typical Caribbean dish) in Antillean Creole. Bouyon music is a mix of traditional and modern music,[2] and is popular across much of the Caribbean.


The best-known band in this genre is Windward Caribbean Kulture (WCK), which started the style in 1988 by experimenting with a fusion of Jing ping and cadence-lypso.

While the cadence-lypso sound features acoustic drums, aggressive up-tempo guitar beat, and strong social commentary in the native Creole language, the music created by WCK focused more on the use of technology with a strong emphasis on keyboard rhythmic patterns.

Bouyon, popularized largely by WCK, blends jing ping, cadence-lypso and traditional dances, namely bèlè, quadrille, chanté mas and lapo kabwit, mazurka, zouk and other styles of Caribbean music.[3]

Windward Caribbean Kulture[edit]

Main article: Windward Caribbean Kulture

The band made its debut in 1988 with an album titled One More Sway, which coincided with the Reunion Year (10th anniversary) Independence celebrations. The next album, released in 1990, titled Culture shock was a defining moment for the band. The album included tracks such as "Culture Shock" and "Dance Floor".

The band toured the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean from 1995 to 1998, releasing the albums Too Many Cooks and Marathon, which led to wider international recognition for both the band and Bouyon music.

Newer offshoots[edit]

Jump up[edit]

In 1987, Exile One recorded a Chanté mas and Lapo Kabwit song, "L'hivenage", commonly referred to as the yo. The French Antilleans referred to the beat as "jump up music" because of its carnival style sound. This jump up beat was later modified to become bouyon or modern soca music. (As printed on Exile One's album "creole attitude")[4]. In Guadeloupe and Martinique, "Jump up" refers generally to bouyon music.

Bouyon Soca[edit]

Bouyon soca is a fusion-genre that blends bouyon and soca music.


A modern offshoot of bouyon is bouyon-muffin. Bouyon-muffin combines elements of Jamaican raggamuffin music, hip hop, and dancehall. The most influential figure in the development of bouyon-muffin is "Skinny Banton" (now known as "Shadowflow") who from 1995 collaborated with the WCK band, using ragga influenced vocals to chant on top of bouyon rhythms. Songs like "party" ft Joanne with Bucktown sounds' DJ Cut gave the products of bouyon muffin like "Bushtown clan", further inspiration to incorporate more hip-hop and dancehall into the Bouyon-muffin genre to create "reketeng".


Reketeng is a hybrid of bouyon, hip hop, and dancehall. Like dub music, reketeng consists predominantly of instrumental remixes of existing recordings and is achieved by significantly altering the recordings, usually by removing the vocals from an existing music piece or emphasizing the drum and bass parts. This stripped down track is sometimes referred to as a 'riddim'.

Alternative bouyon[edit]

The Ncore Band produces an alternative twist to the bouyon genre they call "rhythm core" a fusion of rock, heavy metal and bouyon.[5] They have released a single Riddum Nation.

Bouyon gwada[edit]

Due to the popularity of Triple K International, Ncore, Asa Bantan, and the new generation of bouyon bands who toured the French Antilles, a popular offshoot of bouyon from Guadeloupe is called bouyon gwada.[6] The jump up had its heyday from the 90s with songs such as Met Veye WCK but remained labelled as background or carnival music. Over the years, thanks to inter-trade with the Dominicans and the mass participation of Guadeloupe at the World Creole Music Festival, groups like Triple kay and MFR band began to democratize and local artists were introduced, including the remix "Allo Triple kay" with Daly and "Big Ting Poppin" Daly alone.

A popular offshoot within the bouyon gwada is called bouyon hardcore, a style characterized by its lewd and violent lyrics. Popular bouyon gwada musicians include Wee Low, Suppa, Doc J, Yellow Gaza, and Ph-suicide.

Bouyon bands[edit]

Old School[edit]

  • WCK
  • First Serenade
  • Partners In Kryme
  • Raw Reedim
  • Ruff & Ready
  • RSB
  • Efex
  • Triple K

New School[edit]

  • Asa Banton
  • Ncore (formerly known as MFR)
  • Kross Vybez
  • Xs Groove
  • Royalty
  • Esclav
  • SOS
  • RMC
  • Signal
  • Triple K International
  • Lega-C
  • Danger Band 767
  • Xpression Band
  • Tru Riddim band

See also[edit]


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