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10 of the Naughtiest Double Entendre Calypsos Ever Written

A resident of a Caribbean island for ten years, my appreciation of the traditional calypso as an incredible art form was immediate.

Double Entendre: Calypso's Shrewd Tactic

According to Webster's Dictionary, double entendre is ... "An expression having two meanings, one usually risqué".

Double entendre is the life blood of the traditional calypso and for good reason: many old style calypsos were so raw, so bawdy that it became common practice to avoid social and political censorship by camouflaging many of the lyrics; employing this tactic provided the perfect cover, including shielding young children from a song's true meaning.

All of that being the case, the meaning we assign to a calypso therefore, is our choice ... more or less.

Historically, attempts to censor the music was so intense that in 1868 Trinidad legislation was adopted that prohibited the singing of songs deemed profane. This was a law with teeth as transgressors were actually tried and convicted.

By the 1930's, Calypsonians were required to submit their songs for evaluation by the police before performance. Opposition to this by Calypsonians was so strong, the requirement was dropped in fairly short order. However, efforts to reign in the wayward poets continue today: one of the most effective being the refusal by radio stations to play certain songs deemed too lewd.

Over many generations, the social, political and legal conflict over traditional calypso has been constant. It is no wonder then that the double entendre, which is used so effectively offers something of a safe harbor for all concerned.


*See examples of double entendre songs/performance videos below.

A Brief History of Calypso Music

Calypso is a music with Afro-Spanish rhythms that was popularized in Trinidad, but in time, spread all over the Caribbean. Traceable to Africa, the music is typified by its call-response pattern, and by lyrics that were often composed extemporaneously (on the spot). In its early forms, both during and after slavery, the calypso style was found in the music of Trinidad's Chantwells (song leaders singing in a French Patois); and in locations such as eighteenth and nineteenth century Virgin Islands.

The songs were the tabloids of their time and were comprised of both island gossip and local information, and was sung by women known as Queens and Prima Donnas; the less altruistic, but more musical counterpart of the West African Griot (keepers of tribal history). These women were the predecessors of today's calypso singers (Calypsonians), who generations after the Queens would all be male.

Women became more involved with the music again in the 1960's, however it is still today mostly populated by men; hard drinking, hard loving, hard living men with lifestyles that proudly boasts of their sexual prowess both in real life and in song. Known for their quick wit, spontaneous improvisation and individual style, these musical maestros (men and women), are still today, the most celebrated entertainers in Caribbean society. It must be noted however, that many of today's Calypsonians often live a more traditional lifestyle with steady jobs, professions and families while keeping the music on the side.

The following song illustrates just how celebrated these artists are in Caribbean culture. The writer and singer of the song below is unknown, however we do know that it appeared in Esquire Magazine in 1954.

Calypso is a thing I'm telling you

When you are singing you must learn to be impromptu

Never mind your English, but mind your rhymes

When you get the gist of it you sing it all the time

For veteran Calypsonians are known to be

men who can sing on anything instantly

(Singer/Author Unknown)

Traditional Calypso v.s. Rap/Hip-Hop

With traditional calypso, the lyrics are all important because stories are being told in song. Without exception, the lyrics must be original and creative, and must weave into the stories sharp political or social commentary; or humor ... the bawdier the better.

Contemporary calypso trends towards soca, which is up-tempo and is more about bacchanal (partying), and Carnival and less about storytelling and extemporaneous composition; which is a talent (extempo) rarely exhibited today, but is highly admired and appreciated. A performer skilled in extempo is considered the master of his art.

It should be noted, however that older soca is more aligned with traditional calypso in its storytelling point of view. So, although calypsos and Calypsonians clearly represent a changing art form, it is one that is still very much alive and well.

A fact that may not be commonly known is that calypso was the forerunner of rap/hip-hop, and influenced many other genres of music, as well.

In 1973 an 18-year old calling himself DJ Kool Herc (Clive Campbell), who was born in Kingston, Jamaica hosted a back-to-school party (a pay party), in the social room of his Bronx apartment building. He was the entertainment as he rhymed phrases over the beats of the music, which was something new and exciting. Many music historians credit this event as the beginning of hip-hop. One thing is obvious, the concept of talking/singing a rhyming story over the music the way DJ Kool Herc did that day, came straight out of his Caribbean roots and calypso music.

Another pioneer of 1970's Hip Hop is Grandmaster Flash (Joseph Saddler), a native of Bridgetown, Barbados who has been described as the DJ that gave us the turntable as an instrument. His contributions furthered the growth of hip-hop. In 2007 Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were the first hip-hop act to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Traditional Calypso on the World Stage

A major challenge of calypso music gaining more popularity in the international marketplace has been the difficulty of cutting through the melodious accents of the performers to understand a song's lyrics.

Even if the lyrics are not understood, one can definitely still enjoy the music, as well as get a general idea of what the song is about, however the real point of the song's story is often lost.

As someone who is not a native born islander, this inability to understand was a source of great frustration for me when I first moved to the Caribbean ... until the break-through when it all clicked and I could laugh at the humor, participate in call and response with the rest of the audience, and truly enjoy the music. When everyone around you is laughing, and you haven't the slightest idea why, it's not fun.

This article is partially written with those in mind, who like I was back then, haven't caught up with the accents, and can't thoroughly enjoy the experience of the music. I advise that if there is a calypso that you like, but don't understand, it's well worth the time and effort to do a little research.

Below are ten (out of thousands), of popular calypsos in the double entendre genre. First, are the lyrics and then the actual videos. Believe me, these are not the spiciest calypsos to be found, but they definitely still have quite a bite.

*Note: Please forgive any transcription errors.

Featured Artists:

The Mighty Gypsy, The Mighty Sparrow, Becket (Alston Becket Cyrus), Lord Kitchener, The Mighty Shadow, King Obstinate, Calypso Rose, Brown Boy, Burning Flames, The Mighty Panther.

"She Gone for Cane" by Mighty Gypsy

Mighty Gypsy - Winston Peters,Trinidad & Tobago; Single: 1972

Imagine that I can't live me own life,

Cause I really don't know how to rule me own wife

Tell me, what to do, I really don't know

I never bunk up with a woman who like cane so (Sugar Cane)


A friend advise she up by she parent's estate

When I go look for she

She, the girl ain't there

I ask she mom for she

I ask her pa for she

But when I ask she old granny

Then it's she who said to me


She said, Monday, she went for cane

Tuesday she went back again

Wednesday she must be gone for cane with some man again


It's now I find my wife by and by

I try to talk to her about this cane she does so like

Every time I gone, she goin and roam

I decide I going to plant a whole cane field home.


It's now like the woman get jittery

She don't want to suck the cane I plant for she

Although she have the whole cane field in her mouth

She prefers to look for cane all about.


At last I set down and I tap me brain

How to stop this woman from going for cane

I take me little brother from the country

And I bring the little boy home to watch my she


When you hear this song coming to an end

That woman and me brother is the best of friend

You know the woman she don't care what she do

She start looking for cane with me brother too.


She said Monday she went for cane

Tuesday she went back again

Wednesday she must be gone for cane with some man again.


________________________________________________________________

"Saltfish" by The Mighty Sparrow

The Mighty Sparrow - Slinger Francisco, Grenada & Trinidad; Album: Sparrow vs the Rest, 1976


Saltfish Stew is what I like

So do, do give me day and night

I like your food so don't find me rude

It's my favorite

I'm sure every man in here already eat it


Saltfish

Nothing in the world sweeter than saltfish

Saltfish

English, colloquial, Bajans

Saltfish

It's sweeter than meat

When you want to eat

All Saltfish sweet


Saltfish

Big money does run behind it

Saltfish

Man does even pull gun to find it

Saltfish

It sweeter than meat

When you want to eat

All Saltfish sweet


Saltfish

Some like it hot, some like it cold

No matter what, I take it young or old

When it served with wine, man does chew it fine

Put no pepper

The bone in the centre does be sweet like sugar


Saltfish

Some men does get drunk to face it

Saltfish

Man does hide their face to taste it

Saltfish

It's sweeter than meat

When you want to eat

All Saltfish sweet


I would die a happy man

If I close me eye, with piece in one hand

Bury me in the cemetery

Any money, put a Saltfish picture on me tombstone saying ...


Saltfish

Sparrow was its greatest lover

Saltfish

He even adored the odor

Saltfish

It's sweeter than meat

When you want to eat

All Saltfish sweet.


_________________________________________________________________

"Small Pin" by Becket

Becket – Alston Becket Cyrus, St. Vincent; Album: Give It Up, 1999


Reminiscing and doing that school thing

When we were playing pin chooking

Just one look, she say that pin too small

But when she feel it chook

Elizabeth start to bawl


Small pin does chook hard

Small pin does chook hard

Ah Vera, when I juke she with my little pin

Ah Nora, I watch she with my little pin

Ah Hilda, when I juke she with my little pin

Ah Scaba, I watch she with my little pin

You should see them jump and sing

When I chook them with my little pin

Small pin does chook hard

Small pin does chook hard


Teacher Ruby, boy she Dixie

Styley Riley, I go fix she

Stand up teaching, I put down my pin

When she sit back down

the whole class start to sing


Small pin does chook hard

Small pin does chook hard

Ah Mona, when I juke she with my little pin

Ah Deidre, I watch she with my little pin

Ah Serena, when I juke she with my little pin

Ah Wilma, I watch she with my little pin

You should see them jump and sing

When I chook them with my liitle pin

Small pin does chook hard

Small pin does chook hard


Neighbor Bethly, nice and pretty

But she daddy don want you touch she

Accidently sit on my pin

When she feel this thing, Beth jump and sing

Small pin does chook hard

Small pin does chook hard


Ah Sandra, when I juke she with my little pin

Ah Stella, I watch she with my little pin

Ah Sara, When I juke she with my little pin

Ah Velma, I watch she with my little pin

You should see them jump and sing

When I chook them with my small pin

Small pin does chook hard

Small pin does chook hard


Little axey, does cut down big tree

My little pinny, go diggy, diggy

Is not the size ah de tool

Is those who wise, is them does rule


Small pin does chook hard

Small pin does chook hard


_______________________________________________________________

"My Pussin" by Lord Kitchener

Lord Kitchener – Aldwyn Roberts, Trinidad (“The Grand Master “); Album: Mr. Kitch, 1965

I thought I saw my pussycat

Crossing Chalet Street

I couldn’t tell whether it was the right pussin I meet

But just as I was making sure

Up came a young lady

Mister what you looking for?

That pussin belong to me


It’s my pussin, she said

I feed her, mind her, and raise her from small

Man take off your hand from she

Don’t touch me pussin atall


I said, you sound intelligent, but I

Wouldn’t fall for that

You must show me some document

To prove this is your cat

So useless you keep telling me that she belong to you

Mother you don’t understand, my pussin missing too


It’s my pussin, she said

I feed her, mind her, and raise her from small

man take off your hand from she

Don't touch me pussin atall


She dipped into her leather bag

And brought something to show

She did in fact attain this cat eleven months ago

So if you are dissatisfied and need more proof of me

Mister I could take you home and show you the pedigree


It’s my pussin, she said

I feed her, mind her, and raise her from small

Man take off your hand from she

Don't touch me pussin atall


Well here am I without my cat

I miss her terribly

Such a little sugar plum

She always slept with me

Well what will be my position

When there is rain and storm

I don’t know what I gon do

No pussin to keep me warm


______________________________________________________________

"Yuh Lookin Fuh Horn" by Mighty Shadow

The Mighty Shadow - Winston Anthony Bailey - Trinidad, Album: Just for You, 2001


A young man asked for my opinion

About a lady he want to marry

You workin? No

You jokin? No

You stealin? No

You dealin? No

Yuh lookin fuh horn

Plenty, plenty horn boy

Yuh lookin fuh horn - yuh goin to get horn boy


Why yuh want to marry

You don't have no money

You eh workin no way

You don't have a pay day


You think it so

You think that work - you think it so?

I wish you luck

Without money to buy honey

You headin for misery

She want hairdo and Kallaloo (soup)

And you don't have nothin

Somebody will horn yuh

Yuh better believe it

Somebody will horn yuh

I hope yuh believe it partner


Young fellow, I think you should consider

employment before enjoyment

Oh yeah, yeah,

You learn trade? No

You have good grades? No

You're a smart man? No

A magician? No

Yuh lookin for horn

Yuh goin to get horn boy

Yuh lookin for horn

Plenty, plenty horn boy


Why you want to marry?

You don't have no money

You en working no way

You don't have a pay day

You think is so - thing does work

You think is so, I wish you luck

You must assume, she want perfume

And good things to consume

You say she nice, but take advice

She must want some hot rice


Somebody will horn yuh

You better believe it,

Somebody will horn yuh


Godfather I must marry Rosita

She so pretty

She look so sexy

You workin? No

You jokin? No

You plantin? No

Not a damn thing

Yuh lookin for horn

Plenty, plenty horn boy

Yuh lookin for horn

Yuh goin to get horn boy


Friday evening,

People passing with box of fry chicken

She watchin you, in your old shoe

She feelin to hit you!


Somebody will horn yuh

Yuh better believe it

Somebody will horn yuh

I hope yuh could take it partner


When she watch you in your old clothes

Your laziness exposed

She see her friends in fancy dress

By now you know that ...

Somebody will horn yuh

Somebody will horn yuh

Yuh better believe it


____________________________________________________________

"Sugar Bowl" by King Obstinate

King Obstinate – Paul (Obsti) Richards, Antigua & Barbuda; Album: King Obstinate Greatest Hits Vol. 2, 2005

In the Caribbean, in every household

You will find a sugar bowl

Just for my own satisfaction

Tell me which island’s got the sweetest one

You have some nice and round

And also colored and brown

If you have a spare one just lying around

Obsti is coming to town


And I don’t need one that leak

That wash only once a week

I’m searching every island for a sugar bowl

Not them that knock all about

And leave your rock in your mouth

I’m searching every island for a sugar bowl


Some of them get plenty of use

Cause every night they get used

I’m searching every island for a sugar bowl

I might be getting old

But I’m told I still could roll

Tell me which island got the sweetest sugar bowl


I went to Jamaica, the land of Reggae

Cause I hear they have nice bowls down there

I searched the Virgin Islands

I searched them good, because you know how Obsti loves food

Dominica got plenty river

And St. Kitts got sugar

But all them things weren’t on my mind

It’s a sugar bowl I’m trying to find


I searching every island for a sugar bowl

Not one with a chip up rim

That I can’t fill to the brim

I searching every island for a sugar bowl

Until I got me bowl on me shelf

I can’t think about nothing else

I'm searching every island for a sugar bowl


Antigua you know

Is a stranger's paradise

And I know they're going to treat me nice

Santo Domingo have some lovely dish

But Lord, how you ask for it in Spanish

I try Montserrat and Belize

Even in Netherland and Telize

Dr. Ramsey tell me to rest my soul

I'm searching every island for a sugar bowl


____________________________________________________________

"Sweet Brown Sugar" by Calypso Rose

Calypso Rose – McCartha Lewis, Trinidad and Tobago; Album: So Calypso! 2018

They say sugar scarce, but that is a lie

You getting sugar less when you go to the shop to buy

I say they’re lying because I have sugar selling

To anybody that come to my sugar industry


Come any hour for your sweet brown sugar,

You’ll never regret the sugar you’re going to get

Just put your hands around me waist

You’re going to get the taste

No, no what I say,

I got plenty sugar down dey


A Yankee sailor just come off a boat

I served him some sugar

Well that ain’t no joke

He grinding his teeth

I bust his sugar sweet

His boat leave the shore

Still the Yankee begging for more


I tell him come any hour

For your sweet brown sugar

You could be from Japan, England, or Surinam

Just put your hands around me waist

You going to get the taste

No, no what I say

I got lots of sugar down dey


A police inspector by the name of Rick

Say I sell him sugar

That man hit

He got on his knees begging for sugar please

Before he reach the door

The policeman came begging for more


I tell him come any hour, for your sweet brown sugar,

You’ll never regret the sugar you’re going to get

Just put your hands around me waist

You’re going to get the taste

No, no what I say,

I got plenty sugar down dey


_____________________________________________________________

"I'se Ah Gardener" by Brown Boy

Brown Boy – Knolly Brown, Trinidad and Tobago, 2010


My wife won’t live for a limit

With the cost of living

She say when she buy food stuff

Money ain’t enough


So I use my ability

And I plant some food for she

And while I forking the land

She said she don’t want no dasheen (bush greens), or yam

So I plant fig trees for so

With some plantain and moko (a variety of plantain)


And when I done plant up the crop

She say me fix them too short

She say how she want a divorce

Because the banana feel too soft

The Sikia fig too small

And the moko can’t satisfy she atall.


Well I plant up some provision

And she start to carry on

I said let we go for cane (sugar cane)

She start with the next refrain

And I tried to convince the lady

Cane juice good for she two knee

Well is then she start to bawl

She ain’t going for cane atall

So she start to cuss me up

She don’t want no cane to suck

she said my cane too long

and my cane gon juke up she tongue


Well, I make the woman to know, farming is the way to go

I tell she don’t feel no how

Better we raise some fowls

But she say she don’t want no chicken,

neither she don’t want no duckling

I tell she does get upset

It’s only Creole cock she gone get


And when the cock ready to tread

She says she want a hen instead

She say my cock don’t last

My cock does break down fast

I said darling I ain’t lying atall

I raising cock up from since I small

You can go and ask Kuncie Baggin

I got the best Creole cock in the land.


Because of the economy

I planting food like I crazy

Because the more food I have

Me and the woman could never starve

But she so ignorant

You don't know what the hell she want


I plant some okroo (Okra) in she back yard,

She say me okroo too slippery and hard

So as a man I take a stand

and I plant some cocoa (a tree fruit), on the land

And before I could start to breathe, the woman hold on me cocoa seed

And the woman she ain't care a damn

She have all me seeds in she hand

And when she start to squeeze, I start to bawl,

But she wouldn't let go the cocoa at all.


______________________________________________________________

"Swinging Engine" by Burning Flames

Burning Flames, Antigua and Barbuda; Single: 1996


Time for a test drive now!

Klataye

It was a hot night

It was a night for speeding

And we were in the mood

Sweet music playing

Selections really rocking

She start behaving rude

The way she wining

Could tell she have a engine

That really built for speed

That was no problem, cuz I’m an engine driver

And I could handle speed


She had me

Swinging engine, swinging engine all night

Swinging engine, swinging engine all night

Swinging engine, swing she engine all night


Now we are speeding, the engine really steaming

And I am pumping gears

Wearing my seat belt

Racing glove and my helmet

I riding with no fear

She start vibrating, now I hear crank shaft knocking

Should I ease up or not

Now I smell gasoline

with all the spark that’s flying

the engine might blowup

but me still nah ease up


Swinging engine, swinging engine all night

Swinging engine, swinging engine all night

In she gear box, in she gear box all night

Swinging engine, swinging engine all night


Klataye first gear!


_______________________________________________________________

"The Big Bamboo" by The Mighty Panther

The Mighty Panther – Vernon Joseph Roberts, Trinidad & Tobago; Album: Songs of Dynamite, 1955

I ask my woman what can I do

To make her happy and keep her true

She said, the one thing I want from you

Is a little piece of the big bamboo


The big bamboo, it grows good and long

The big bamboo, it is always strong

The big bamboo stands up straight and tall

The big bamboo, pleases one and all


I give my woman two coconuts,

She said, my friend that is okay but

I know you want to be nice to me,

But what good are the nuts without the tree?


I gave my woman a sugar cane

Sweets for the sweet I did explain

She handed it back much to my surprise

She loved the flavor, but not the size


I gave my woman a banana plant

She said my friend it’s like so elegant

It’s much too nice to go to waste

But it’s much too soft to suit my taste


The big bamboo, it grows good and long

The big bamboo, it is always strong

The big bamboo stands up straight and tall

The big bamboo, pleases one and all