By Natasha Ofosu
United Kingdom | Friday 5 August 2016: 9:09 BST
It’s been a long time coming, but finally one of soca’s most consistent exponents is about to release his debut album. Trinidad-born, New York-based singer/songwriter Devon ‘Lyrikal’ Martin brings together an impressive body of music on his collection, The Journey. The 20 track recording includes an All Access DVD (which follows Lyrikal at Trinidad Carnival), hit digital stores on 22 July. On it you will find fresh material in the form of World’s Greatest, his 2016 Crop Over collaboration with King Bubba FM on the Tamu Tamu riddim, along with his Trinidad Carnival offerings Dip and Roll, Unlimited Vibes (with Kes the Band), and the song which took him to the final of the International Soca Monarch competition in February, Freedom. Relive carnivals past through tracks such as All Over De Gyal, 25/8, Ramajay and Conquer Meh, as well as the original and remixed versions of Loner and Cloud 9. Lyrikal says that the album captures the maturing he has undergone in the past ten years. “I chose the name The Journey because the album shows my growth and experiences over the past decade,” he said. He explained further, in an interview with New York radio station Hot 97’s DJ Young Chow in June, “My journey was a long time coming, and it was a hard-fought journey. But I like things that don’t come easy. I like to be the underdog, per se.” He added, “When I migrated to the States, to go back to Trinidad it was a kind of hassle and a little difficult because more times they used to say you should be living in Trinidad to sing soca. But, it was no problem for me. I like work and I always used to go back to promote my music. I [kept] going... and I never gave up.” Lyrikal was born in Port of Spain, and left for Brooklyn at the age of 13. As a child he sang in the church choir, and was heavily into Jamaican dancehall in his youth and early career, making his own chants and performing in school talent shows and neighbourhood block parties. He began to focus seriously on his recording career in 2003, and caused a stir when he jumped on the 2005 Pot O’ Gold riddim produced by Shawn ‘Mastamind’ Noel; his song was More Gyal. With more than 40 releases since then, Lyrikal has emerged as a singer with a penchant for mellow, danceable grooves and good storylines. He is an accomplished songwriter and deft freestyler, too. In the last two years his music has stepped up a gear and in 2014, for the first time, he reached the final of the International Power Soca Monarch competition in T&T performing Lockdown, his duet with Kerwin Du Bois. He began to receive tangible recognition in November 2015 when Cloud 9 was voted the People’s Choice Most Popular Song at the Copyright Organisation of T&T’s annual music awards. While The Journey is strictly a soca collection, Lyrikal said he intends to show off his versatility through different genres on his sophomore album. And in the meantime, he plans to release some hip-hop and dancehall mix tapes to do just that. Fans can now purchase their copy of The Journey on iTunes.