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 Trinidad Guardian:—
By Kalifa Clyne
Local reggae artist David “King David” Nieves


Don’t call him a reggae artist and don’t say he sings “local reggae” music. David “King David” Nieves says he is an artist who makes music without boundaries. When T&T’s reggae industry gained popularity, around 2005, King David was one of the more recognised voices.  From his love song to the women, Candle in the Wind, to his social commentary, Life, it seemed his voice would be a constant presence. He described the reggae for which he was known as a roller-coaster ride, one which is about to hit one of those up periods. Nieves says the rise of reggae is being signalled by the release of the Shatta Glass Riddim, which features his song Patriot. The singer stopped by the Guardian for an interview shortly after the track’s release and had a lot to say.
T&T Guardian: Where did the idea for Patriot come from?
King David: It was very spur of the moment. It comes from the way we speak. Everybody always say ‘I’m bad,’ and I felt like ‘why do Trinidadians always speak in opposites?’ Why say I’m bad when what you really mean is I’m good? Then in the last line I mentioned that I won’t forget the red, white and black and the producers came up with the name Patriot.
TG: The song only speaks to the theme patriot in that one line, though?  
KD: Yes, but I am a patriot. I wouldn’t leave T&T. My purpose is here. I do reggae music, which is considered Jamaican music, but when I speak, it is never with a Jamaican accent. I know I’m not a Jamaican. I am proud of where I am from.
TG: In the Bob Marley documentary, it is said that calypso music has Jamaican origins. Howdo you feel about that?
KD: Someone once said to me that reggae was born out of calypso. I don’t see that as an issue. We are all responsible for Caribbean music. During Carnival, Swappi sings soca, but if you were to play Bubble on a DJ now, you can hear that it is dancehall.
Music is merging and mixing. Before long there won’t be any claims to music or even different genres. There will just be music.
TG: People know you as a reggae artist. Have you done any soca music?
KD: I have been singing soca. I released a soca song this Carnival. People make it hard for us, though. When Isasha and Prophet Benjamin sang soca this year, people kick up and make noise. They get used to us doing one thing. I am an artiste and I would be grateful to be called a soca artiste right now.
TG: How would you describe the soca industry at present?
KD: I am proud of soca. Soca has stepped up to the plate and is receiving the recognition it deserves in its birthplace. I am proud of the music itself, from as far back as Ras Shorty I to now. Every year soca gets bigger and attracts more people.
TG: And the locally-produced reggae?
KD: I am grateful for all that we reggae artists have received from the people. At the end of the day, we are Trinidadians singing Jamaican music. It’s harder for us to get assistance because some people don’t see what we are doing as local content. I have to show love to the Ministry of Arts, though, for assisting with funding for my music video.
TG: In 2005, you and other artists did a song called Reggae All Stars that seemed to indicate a strength of presence in T&T. What happened?
KD : With the downturn of the reggae-music industry in T&T and the rise of the gaza culture, people stopped listening, radio stations stopped playing the music and promoters stopped calling.
I have released songs and done shows every year since then and the studio work never slowed down. I have been doing music, but I am also employed and enjoying married life, my three sons and my spirituality.
TG: What are you looking forward to in terms of your music this year?
KD: Well, I am under new management. I was without a manager for three years. I have four singles to release, and in October I will be going to Africa with some other local artistes to do a show. It’s a soca and reggae show and some big names will be heading there.


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