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Being classified as the underdog represents the overall notoriety of a person’s status but doesn’t hinder on their actual caliber of talent. When Hot 97 announced the 2014 lineup for their annual Summer Jam concert, it boasted of Hip-Hop’s biggest names such as Nicki Minaj, 50 Cent and Lil Wayne.

inconspicuously–or nah–Soca artist Bunji Garlin also had his name plastered on the flyer in between the established rap stars. In the world he comes from, Garlin is a giant amongst his peers; winner of the International Soca Monarch several times over and has even crossed the Yankee plain with a Soul Train Award for his trophy case.

But for a unimpressionable New York crowd, it’s either show or prove, or simply move when it comes to entertaining them at live events.

In lieu of the announcement, Hip-Hop Wired caught up with Bunji Garlin to find out how he was able to nestle in with the Hip-Hop extravaganza, a placement he regards with “the humblest of respects.”

Hot 97’s Summer Jam features numerous billed and surprise performances but Garlin’s appearance makes him the first Trinidadian Soca artist to appear on their main stage. He downplays any sense of pride or entitlement over other artists within his genre (in other words, not taking the bait to do so) when it comes to the Summer Jam distinction. In fact, in a classy move, he credits his record label combined with his PR training on landing him on Hot 97’s radar.

“VP [Records] had arranged a promotional tour in December of last year all through the Tri-State area,” he recalls. “It attracted all the mainstream radio stations and the magazines as well. So that played a factor in a huge way! And just the press interviews I did where people got to see another side of ‘the artist’ played in my favor too. I was able to give a rundown of my musical history and the people I represent.”

“Soca is not mainstay–nor is a stranger within the United States so it goes both ways,” he continued. “I know there are a lot of misconceptions on what I can do or even, an artist from my genre is capable of. In my territory of Trinidad and Tobago, we are a cosmopolitan society and we absorb music from every corner of the world. So therefore we are able to do multiple genres just from one artist. So this coming Summer Jam fans should expect a frenzy. I’m very blessed, very fortunate to be a Soca performer–a Soca artist.”

Photos: Jonathan Mannion


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