If you weren’t able to make it to the Caribbean for Carnival in late February, DJ Maga and other music jocks in his collective offered their own D.C. celebration at Eden DC with “Afrosoca Love Vol. 2.” DJ Maga, a 2015 Howard University graduate also created a mixtape by that name. As with the Volume 1 event and mix in early February, he also had an additional aim—to strengthen the connection between African culture and Carnival soca culture by including dance-floor fillers from both sides of the Atlantic. Maga’s mother is from St. Lucia in the Caribbean, his father Tamil is from Sri Lanka in South Asia, and Maga majored in Sociology and African Studies. He was raised between London, St. Lucia, and the United States, and came to Howard after high school in California.
This hour-and-half mix emphasizes 2017 Carnival soca season releases before it moves into recent African club dance music. The high beats per minute soca songs that dominate the first hour of the mix shine through vocals that go from sing-song rapping with island patois to lilting melodies. The beats have a skittering feel that separates them slightly from European-rooted EDM/techno, however it’s those carnival road march choruses that really stand out. Never playing a full song, Maga cleverly hits the anthemic titles and a few verses in songs like “How We Like It” from Kes the Band, “Outside” from Voice, and Sekon Sta’s “Party Every Weekend.”
Around the 56-minute mark, the tempo slows a bit as the African songs, largely from Nigeria and Ghana, arrive. The beats gets more polyrhythmic while the auto-tuned vocals draw from American R&B, trap-rap, Jamaican dancehall, and old-school homegrown stylings. Highlights include cuts like “Leg Over” from Mr Eazi and Tekno’s insistent “Pana.” Other peaks include the Nigerian reggae dancehall of Patoranking’s “This Kind Luv,” and Wusu’s Ghanian highlife-meets-rap-chant “Lumba.”