One thing you can always count on Crop Over for is some kinda drama, some kinda bacchanal, some kinda confusion. Every year it's like watching your favorite show, full of surprising twists and turns. The latest twist is that Trinidadian global mega party brand Scorch has departed the Xhosa alliance and teamed up with Baje International for Crop Over 2018. The section is said to be titled "Baje XX", a reference to Baje's 20 years of Crop Over. The announcement was made last night, in a surprise move that caught many masqueraders by surprise and whipped Cropoverites and carnival chasers into a frenzy.
With the addition of Scorch to its ranks, Baje boosts its profile immensely and looks potentially set to return to the heydey of Crop Overs past, where it reigned supreme. Baje has already had strong lineups previously, notably with the addition of Mix Nutz, Skinny Fabulous, VIDA and Machel Montano but Scorch's brand power looks set to inject the once flagging brand with new life and vitality. With its global presence, including London, Toronto, NYC and the Caribbean, Scorch is not a brand to be taken lightly. Its significant following can easily inject large numbers into Baje's ranks and switch the allegiance of many aspirational middle class Bajan Cropoverites over to Baje. Other Crop Over bands should pay attention to what this power shift can mean for their brands as well, as well as how this allegiance will play out in the Crop Over fete market as Baje usually has a number of events across the season.
There is a note somewhere to be made about the fact that these large Trinidadian brands are making waves and shifting the Crop Over market, with Scorch shifting allegiance and TRIBE making tentative steps to enter the Crop Over fete market while looming ominously over the Kadooment scene. If TRIBE ever touch down with Krave via the Xaymaca link de fete gine be done, but that's a convo for another day. We wonder if any other large brands from either Jamaica or Trinidad will ever be lured down to enter the notoriously fickle Crop Over market.
With the departure of Scorch, this marks the fourth partner to decamp from under the Xhosa banner, a surprising turn of events from the formerly supercharged Crop Over brand. Xhosa was the first brand to unite multiple party and entertainment brands under one banner, creating something new in the Crop Over market as it brought together brands from across the region, while promising masqueraders a fantastic experience on the road. Xhosa did achieve this and its parties always embodied the Xhosa theme of 'We Don't Pose We Party'. The band managed to capture a sense of family, community and fun which made so many of their events and their road experiences enjoyable, a feat that many brands had not been able to master. Even the band launches were party affairs to look forward to as they were always lit. However, after the fiasco of Kadooment 2017, where Xhosa was beset by what seemed like a perfect storm of problems, the Xhosa ship seems like it has run into an iceberg, is taking on water heavily and threatening to capsize. Brand after brand, such as Island Fusion, Simone Arthur, LehWeGoSLEEK and now Scorch, have abandoned ship with more rumoured to be looking to escape in the near future, including some sponsors. It remains to be seen how Xhosa will reverse this rout, restore faith in the brand and return to prominence on the Crop Over scene. Who knows, the dark horse may pull out from the back and return to leading the pack.
Like we said initially, Crop Over is nothing if not drama. To borrow a phrase from Heidi Klum, in the Crop Over world, one day you're in, the next you're out. Auf Wiedersehen.