Bunji Garlin Bio:
Bunjin Garlin, born Ian Antonio Alvarez, entered Trinidad’s competitive carnival arena in 1999 with “Send Them Rhythm Crazy,” his robust delivery more closely aligned to a (Jamaican) dancehall deejay than a soca singer, earning third place in that year’s Ragga Soca contest. His formidable rapid-fire rhyming skills, as honed on subsequent singles “From The Ghetto,” “Warrior Cry,” “Blaze The Fire” and “Fiery,” slew his rivals in carnival’s higher profile Soca Monarch competition (which annually pulls approximately 15,000 patrons) while earning Garlin the commanding designation The Viking of Soca.
Throughout his 16-year recording career Garlin has independently released eight additional albums, usually during the 6-8 week carnival season (roughly January 1-Ash Wednesday) to benefit from the increased airplay, performance and even endorsement opportunities for soca artists during that period.
Occasionally, a soca hit transcends the carnival circuit as “Differentology” has done. Initially released in November 2012 on Sheriff Music in anticipation of Carnival 2013, “Differentology” has gone on to win a 2013 Soul Train Award for Best International Performance, and a Battle of the Beats competition on influential New York hip-hop station Hot 97 (WQHT 97.1 FM), defeating tracks by Eminem and DJ Khaled). The single was also featured in an episode of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and earned Garlin an enviable slot on Hot 97’s annual Summer Jam’s main stage (alongside 50 Cent, The Roots, Nas and other hip-hop stars) held on June 1, 2014 at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium; all groundbreaking achievements for a Trinidadian artist.
The Major Lazer remix of “Differentology” and the original are featured on the Differentology album. “Major Lazer started playing (the original) “Differentology” at various festivals and then followed it with their remix, which took it to an entirely different audience; there’s not a price I could ever put on that so I am forever grateful,” stated Garlin who is a featured performer at Major Lazer’s Mad Decent Block Parties throughout the summer. Also included is the original version (and the Doc & Jes Viking remix) of “Carnival Tabanca” the haunting EDM auto-tuned post Carnival 2013 anthem, produced by Sheriff, lamenting the season’s end, a feeling summarized in Trinidadian vernacular as tabanca.
Vintage soca is given a contemporary aural sheen on “All O Dem,” produced by Dwain “Dwaingerous” Antrobus of Bassink Productions. Here Bunji references his 2001 hit “Fete Is Fete” within a song that “musically represents where we come from.” Bunji’s rendition of “Savage,” produced by Jus Now (LAZABeam & Interface) adapts a 21st century sonic identity to a 1976 hit by the late Trinidadian calypsonian Maestro. “I heard stories about how talented Maestro was and when I heard “Savage” it really clicked that his song could live again in a new way,” Garlin explained. “I wanted it on the album because it bridges old and new generations of soca lovers and will introduce a lot of young bloods to Maestro’s music.”.