JAB JAB 2018




Jab Jab the most popular of all traditional mas played in Grenada– French creole for diable (devil) – is a mas where revellers, scantilly dressed are covered with black body paint or oil. Operating in packs. Jab Jabs, threatens to besmear spectators unless they pay him off.”   Likened to devil mas,  incorporating the use of cows horns, tails, chains, shackles and restraints to hold back one of the devils in the group.  A reference to slavery.    The  performance of the Jab Jab is often accompanied by whistles, horns and drums.



Mas Origins and History:  Portrayals of various devils have been popular throughout the history of Carnival, but the combination of devil mas and molasses may be one of convenience (a dark substance available to smear the body and a popular portrayal) or be designed to recall a history of slavery.  It is known that white masqueraders would smear themselves with varnish or other dark pigment when playing as the Negue Jadin, a satire of estate Negroes.  Additionally, L.M Fraser, in History of Carnival relates that


    In the days of slavery whenever fire broke out upon an Estate, the slaves on the surrounding properties were immediately mustered and marched to the spot, horns and shells were blown to collect them and the gangs were followed by the drivers cracking their whips and curging with cires and blows to their work.  After emancipation, the negroes began to represent this scene as a kind of commemoration of the change in their condition, and the procession of the “cannes brulees” used to take place on the night of the 1st of August , the date of their emancipation… After a time the day was changed and for many years past the Carnival days have been inaugurated by the “Cannes Brulees”.


The connection between Cannes Brulees (burnt cane) and molasses is self evident.  In celebrating emancipation, it is very possible that enacting scenes reminiscent of slavery (where burnt cane covered a laborers body), and re-satirizing the white plantocracy that had formerly satirized laborers through portrayals of Negue Jadin contributed to the creation of this mas. In 1848, Charles Day reported a band of masqueraders that have qualities similar to that of the Jab Molassie.


Hill summarizes that there was, “a gang of almost naked primitives bedaubed with black varnish, pulling at a chain attached by padlock to one of their members who was occasionally knocked down”.  Behavior of the chained character is not described, but the costuming does suggest a connection to the Jab Molassie and satirization of slavery.  Like much of Carnival, there is no simple, neat lineage in the creation of the Jab Molassie, but a nebulous intersection of many cultural facets, intersecting in an environment bacchanal. SourceTraditionalMas.com


'When Grenadian artist Tallpree burst onto the soca scene in 1999 with his hit Old Woman Alone, it marked the start of Jab Jab music’s ascent from an obscure sub-genre of soca to one that is recognised internationally in its own right.'


While not credited as the originator of Jab Jab – an accolade attributed to the Grenadian band Moss International, who are said to have been the first to have included the conch shell in their recordings – Tallpree is now hailed as the undisputed King of Jab.


The singer, whose real name is Wilt Cambridge, has been unwavering in his commitment to the music. He has produced memorable dancefloor fillers such as The Grave, the Jail and the Hospital with which he won the Grenada Road March title in 2000, Jab Jab Crew with Alison Hinds (2002), Wicked Jab (2009), and Jab Jab Nation on the Vintage riddim (2013).

Jab, which comes from the French word ‘diable’ meaning ‘devil’, is a distinctly percussive sound with a three-beat repeated refrain (often rung out on a conch shell). The word also refers to the devil masqueraders in Carnival (called Spice Mas in Grenada) who, smeared in black oil, mud or paint, wearing horns and carrying chains, whips or even serpents, depict the evils meted out to enslaved Africans by their colonial masters.


Tallpree has explained that “Jab music is a movement” which Grenadians, including him, are immersed in from childhood. “Grenadians live for Jab. Just as the fancy costumes in Trinidad is the big thing, J’Ouvert is the biggest thing in Grenada when it comes to Carnival,” he said. “That passion, that energy, that vibe is always there.”


Tallpree began his music career as a reggae dancehall singer. He switched genres to soca in 1997, a decision which began to pay dividends two years later. He won the Spice Mas Road March title twice, in 2000 and 2001, and in 2003 he was crowned Soca Monarch.


Tallpree established his Preeday concert in 2011 on the Wednesday before the climax of Spice Mas. The annual event has grown to become one of the premium shows of the carnival, attracting top-draw local and regional artists. SOURCE: www.socanews.com