When Lyrikal entertained thousands via his first virtual live concert on Thursday night, he did so with a heavy heart and mind.
While he was providing cheer to those of us stuck at home, he couldn’t stop thinking about his friends in New York who contracted the coronavirus, one of them who has been hospitalised.
“Thursday morning when I got up, I call a brethren to send me some acoustic riddims. And when I call him for that, he told me he has it, he just found out. A next brethren in hospital with a mask on his face, hook up on his bed. I performed with that in my head,” he told Loop from his home in Atlanta.
Lyrikal, real name Devon Martin, said he thought about cancelling but his bestie Nadia Batson convinced him to do it stating that even his friends would be watching.
“And one of them was watching the live and commenting. He say I lift him up…what I did for my friend was lift up his spirits and that was my concern, people who were sad in their house and needed uplifting.”
Lyrikal’s soca concert drew thousands to his Instagram and Facebook accounts.
During his set, there were over 8000 people on his Instagram Live while on Facebook Live there were over 70,000 views.
“I feel amazing. I feel ecstatic, it is a great, great feeling to see how much love the people have for me not just physically but for somebody to sit by their phone or computer and watch you for over an hour, I am lost for words,” he said, stating that rising numbers gave him the energy to keep going.
“I not seeing anybody in front of me, I am seeing a phone. Sometimes it is not easy to perform for a crowd right there but you performing for a phone, if you are not passionate about your craft there is no way you could do that. If you aren’t a real artist you can’t do that.”
Lyrikal isn’t the first soca artist to entertain fans with live online performances. Nailah Blackman does a weekly show where she takes requests from fans and performs acoustic versions of her songs and Kees Dieffenthaller recently surprised fans with a brief, stripped-down performance of some of his songs via IG.
Lyrikal’s show, however, was pure pace and energy which had people partying in their homes as evidenced by the videos people have been sending him.
“When it first came up, somebody tagged me on IG in my stories, a guy by the name of Fly Kid, he said is time for some of these artistes to give a virtual concert and he tag me alone. I was cooking and when I saw it I reposted it and people reacted to it and said do it. I was in the kitchen and God say do a virtual concert so I went on my phone and post it, then I called my manager and my cousin. I got 1200 comments and every comment was yes, please, do it.
“The comments were expressing how much they really need it at a time like this so I said if I doing something virtually I want to do something that would uplift them. People could listen to music on their own but the word concert is energy for me. I am giving you a show like you came to Estate 101 to see me. Lyrikal’s vibe is energy, is vibes, I don’t know how to do anything halfway,” he said.
Lyrikal’s set included some of his big hits such as ‘Cloud 9’, ‘24/8’, ‘Criminal Wine’. ‘Loner’ and, of course, his 2020 mega-hit ‘Rukshun’. It also included songs from his early days that only his New York, Baltimore and Miami fans would know.
“When we do shows in New York, Canada, London, Trinidad, the most I have on stage is 25 minutes to half an hour. I can’t sing all them songs in that time. In this virtual thing, you can’t talk too much, you have to keep people interested. You can’t interact with the crowd so you have to use everything you have. I wanted to show the people is not just these songs I have that allyuh know. I wanted to show people where I really start from. I doing this thing long time,” he explained.
His set also included his own reggae single ‘No Friend’ and some of his faves from other artistes.
“I wanted to show them versatility as well. I wanted to touch on my favourite songs like ‘Dingolay’ and Million Voice. I wanted to show them what Lyrikal is made of musically. Even for the producers to show them I could do anything so when they sending beats they could send me anything,” he said.
Reflecting on his musical journey, he said: “I started performing in Trinidad in 2012 with ‘Ramajay’ and I started to get that lil attention. The next year, 2013, it really kicked off with ‘25/8’. I did 82 shows that year, all the big stages, I was in everything. That was the kick-off year and from then to now, I have been on a consistent flow on my journey. Sometimes I just have to rock back sit back and say boy look at your body of work.”
Still basking in the overwhelmingly positive feedback from his concert, Lyrikal said it just felt real and organic, like Trinidad Carnival all over again. He is grateful to all the soca artistes, DJs and producers from all over the world who tuned in among them Voice, Iwer George, Preedy, Skinny Fabulous, Nadia Batson, Bunji, Private Ryan, Back to Basics and Dr Jay.
Lyrikal might do another online concert but for now, he is busy in studio recording and organising dubplates he didn’t get time to do before.
“The music don’t stop. I don’t ever stop recording. I am writing every night, working on soca. I am working on six or seven projects, wrote four songs so far, recorded three already. Every day I am in studio. I have time now,” he said.
He also spends some of his time cooking, a skill he learned from his mother, who he described as a general in the kitchen.
As he reflects on the pandemic and worries about his mother who lives in New Jersey and his friends in NYC, Lyrikal said he is just happy to put a smile on people’s faces.
His message to the world: “Stay positive, stay clean. We can’t wait to see each other again. I am sending shoutouts to everybody worldwide, we in it together, everybody equal right now.”