carnival (4)

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When you think of Carnival, soca music naturally springs to mind. And when you think of Jamaica, dancehall inevitably pops up.

But what do you get when you mix the two? Well, you'll find out on the road next month with Xaymaca International as the Carnival titans have flipped the script to make it a perfect soca and dancehall fusion!

Having started the blend last year with the introduction of their Queen of Dancehall costume, Xaymaca upped the stakes today and took it one step further by signing dancehall artistes Ding Dong Ravers and Teejay as their official ambassadors for their 2020 Carnival season.

And we don't know about you but we're VERY excited.

Loop got a special invitation to the official signing this evening, and we caught up with Ding Dong and Teejay to find out what they think of their new ambassadorial roles.

Ding Dong beamed: "I respect Xaymaca to the fullest because they believe in me and they're the first to believe in me in the soca world. Big up Romeich because he convinced me from the first year to do Carnival. It was a very important move in my life and it worked out to be the best.

"I've a big soca song this year and I hope to create history with it on the road with Xaymaca."

Revealing some of what he'll be bringing to the road on April 19, Teejay added: "I will come party and enjoy myself." And he promised plenty of "wildness" and "madness".

Kandi King, Xaymaca co-director, explained a little bit of the reason for the dancehall partnership. She told Loop: "We really just wanted to give our international masqueraders a taste of Jamaica. Of course you can't think of Jamaica without thinking of reggae and dancehall, and if you think about dancehall, you have to think about Ding Dong. 

"So we just wanted to diversify and give them a small taste of what dancehall has to offer."

Andrew Bellamy, Xaymaca CEO, added: "We'll be bringing the perfect fusion of the Jamaican culture with soca. We have the best of the local dancehall scene, we have Ding Dong and Teejay and we'll be bringing some of the strongest 2020 soca artists and you combine that with the experience we provide from breakfast through to lunch and dinner.... It's going to be an unforgettable experience for our masqueraders."

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Niki Minaj - Proud Trinidadian

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Celebrity musician Nicki Minaj has decisively claimed her Trinidadian heritage, saying via an Instagram post that she is a 'proud Trini'.

The rap diva shared photos to her Instagram account on Carnival Tuesday after wearing a costume from Tribe Carnival and enjoying the festivities with her husband while on a truck.

Minaj was seen partying with soca stars Machel Montano, Iwer and Kes, who all sang their hits including the popular 'Stage Gone Bad'.

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Minaj, who just released her latest hit 'Yikes', was seen decked out in a blue and purple costume resplendent with feathers. 

She was joined by husband Kenneth Petty who she married in October 2019.

Minaj said she and Petty were once childhood sweethearts when she lived in Queens, New York as a child. 

Minaj produced a Carnival video for 'Pound the Alarm' in Trinidad in 2012. 

'Fast and Furious' actor and musician Ludacris was also in the island for Trinidad and Tobago's 2020 Carnival celebrations. 

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Government coughs up money for bacchanal

This year there has been more meetings than actual events when it comes to “Looshan Carnival” 2010, leaving more than just a bitter tastes in the mouths of many over the event which supposedly has a tag line “nothing sweeter than that.” Money and the financing of the event have been at the centre of most of those meetings. Carnival over the years has been heavily subsidized by Government and whilst the various shows at Carnival have been major draws in terms of crowd, the event has suffered perennial financial losses, with little public accountability. This year it would appear that the Ministry of finance which is headed by Prime Minister Stephenson King is going all out to tighten the screws on the financial operations of the Cultural Development Foundation, the CDF, the institution which has the mandate for overseeing carnival events. After several meetings with between the Carnival stakeholders and CDF as well as between CDF and the Minister of Culture, there appeared to have been a stalemate last week about the financing for carnival, which over the past three years had received a boost of EC$1 million per year. Last Friday morning the Saint Lucia Calypso Association told the media that after last weekend they would have been pulling out of any competition events, with Calypso quarter finals due this week and Groovy and Power Soca qualifiers due last Saturday. But in a last ditch effort to save Carnival, hours later the Government’s press secretary announced that yet another EC$1 million would be made available to Carnival 2010. Ah but there is a catch the STAR has since learnt, or maybe more than just one. The money we have learnt will not be placed in the coffers for them to do as they please. Apparently the condition is such that all invoices and bills related to carnival must be submitted to the Ministry of Education and Culture for perusal and for subsequent payment. So what now of the Saint Lucia Calypso Association? Well after Friday’s announcement they were still holding on to their position pending receipt of an official communiqué from either CDF or the Government. On Sunday head of the CDF board Milton Branford met with the Calypso Association to discuss the way forward. The STAR has learnt that the meeting was quite cordial with just one issue unresolved. The Calypso Association had been negotiating EC$150,000 to split among the five tents. But whilst this money was guaranteed over the weekend, there is a little matter of a ten percent tax which would be placed on that figure and all other fees and prize money paid out to Calypsonians and Soca artistes for Carnival 2010. But whilst on Friday the SLCA 2009 had this to say; “we are completely dissatisfied with the disregard and apparent lack of respect from the Ministry of Culture after the assurance that we would receive firm word on our subvention by Wednesday June 16, 2010,” on Monday they were singing a different tune. Having since been written to be the Ministry of Education and Culture the Calypso tents will as of this evening be hosting their quarter finals with Spectrum setting things off tonight, followed by TOT on Thursday night, South tent on Friday and Ambassadors on Saturday. The issue of the ten percent tax the SLCA has been advised to approach Inland Revenue for a waiver. The STAR has also been informed that of the EC$1 million just half of that will go directly to CDF to cover their expenses and prize money whilst the balance will go towards community carnival, Calypso and Steel-pan. The government is also demanding that CDF presents a detailed document about its operations and expenses for Carnival this year as well as its proposals for making the event more financially viable in the future. This was one of the intentions in the first place when carnival was shifted from its traditional pre-lentern period to July.

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NEW YORK - Trinidad and Tobago is generating strong exposure in the American celebrity community and mainstream consumer market following Caribbean entertainment brand Antilia's successful promotion of its "2010 Carnival Experience VIP travel packages" to the twin-island nation last month. Antilia's CEO, Simon Khan reports that the campaign was a tremendous success: Trinidad and Tobago received top class exposure and accolades from the visitors and celebrities who Antilia welcomed to the island for the season, including supermodel/actor Tyson Beckford, NAACP Image Award-winning actor Malik Yoba, and Grammy winning R&B songstress Mýa.

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Grammy winning R&B singer Mýa (left) chats with Travelista Teri
at Antilia's "SUNSET" party.
In addition to playing host to dozens of visitors who took advantage of Antilia's travel packages to one of the greatest cultural celebrations on earth, Antilia also invited the popular daily syndicated entertainment magazine program, Extra, representing one of the largest television media establishments ever to participate in Trinidad
Carnival.

During Extra's visit, host AJ Calloway also covered the Beyoncé concert, teaching the R&B superstar how to "Palance" (a Trinidad Carnival Dance), a memorable addition to her show which sent the crowd into a frenzy, and which was also highlighted in the program.

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At left: Jason Williams (JW), singer of Trinidad's 2010 "Road
March" winning single "Palance," is interviewed by Extra's AJ Calloway
at the Carlton Savannah.

Extra also filmed Antilia's star-studded, invitation only Ash Wednesday "SUNSET" event at the Carlton Savannah's "Wow Suite", where Queen Elizabeth of England stayed during her visit to Trinidad last November.
Upon his return to New York, Calloway publicly thanked Antilia for hosting Extra's visit to Carnival in front of millions of viewers. The February 26 and 27 airings of the show were carried on WNBC in New York
among numerous other stations around the country.

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NAACP Image Award-winning actor Malik Yoba takes time for a "wine"
during Antilia's "Carnival Experience" in Trinidad this year.
Antilia welcomed many more taste-makers and notables, including acclaimed celebrity photographer Jonathan Mannion (who has worked alongside Jay-Z, Eminem, Notorious B.I.G., Lance Armstrong and David Beckham); Beyoncé's choreographer Zach Simmons; celebrity stylist Theo Faulkner; runner-up on Bravo's Make Me a Super Model Sandhurst Tacama-Miggins; NFL stars Edgerrin James and Clinton Portis; top New York radio personality Dahved Levy; and Travelista TV which is running eight webisodes about Antilia's "Carnival Experience."

Antilia offered special six-night packages, representing incredible value and convenience, including 4-Star luxury accommodation at the Hyatt Regency and Carlton Savannah hotels; VIP party tickets; airport transfers; chauffeur/ driver services; 24-hour concierge service, a costume and all-inclusive experience with top all-inclusive Carnival bands; and in-room costume fitting and tailoring.

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Supermodel/actor Tyson Beckford poses in the elevator at the
Carlton Savannah's rooftop during Antilia's "SUNSET" private party on
Wednesday, February 17.

"We're very pleased to have successfully introduced celebrities, media personalities and movers and shakers within the entertainment world to Trinidad and Tobago, and look forward to doing more of the same across
the Caribbean to promote sustainable tourism development and awareness of the region's unique attributes," remarked Simon Khan.

The entertainment brand is currently planning a series of VIP initiatives both in the Caribbean and North America which will similarlyintegrate star power and international media participation with Caribbean fashion, music and travel. Visit www.antilia.com for further details.
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