Grenada has lost a cultural icon. Former Carriacou and Petit Martinique calypso and soca Monarch Kenly Joseph (better known by the sobriquet Rhino) died from gunshot wounds in Brooklyn, New York on December 4, 2015. Fans and friends remember Rhino for his joyful disposition, sharp social commentaries, wit, and his exploits as a distinguished parandero. Many are moaning Rhino, especially as the holiday season is upon us, clearly one of the seasons he lived for. For more on the tragedy please visit the story from the Grenada Chronicle. Big Drum Nation consulted cultural and community activist Nic Cox for his reflection on King Rhino’s contribution and legacy.
Big Drum Nation: Who was calypsonian King Rhino?
Nic Cox: In my opinion, Rhino was a very talented calypsonian. He was blessed with a rich and powerful voice which he controlled very well. He had a great command of the stage and used his body language well to convey his messages. I particularly remember viewing him, via the internet, as he performed at a competition in Carriacou. It was a social commentary/political commentary, partly referencing the issue of garbage disposal in Carriacou and Petit Martinique. His imagery and antics play back in my mind to this day.
Big Drum Nation: It is noted that Rhino won the Carriacou calypso crown in consecutive tournaments: How good was he (how do you rate him)?
NIc Cox: I was not able to particularly follow or document Rhino’s competitive achievements, yet I was aware of him being Carriacou and Petit Martinique’s calypso monarch on multiple occasions. I rate him second only to the Mighty Hypocrite, who dominated the Carriacou and Petit Martinique calypso arena in the early to mid 1970s. In my judgment, Hypocrite edges out Rhino in crafty lyrics.
Big Drum Nation: Did he record? If yes, are his records available?
Nic Cox: Unfortunately, I do not own any recordings by Rhino. I am not sure if the calypsos that he did in Carriacou were commercially recorded. When Rhino moved to the USA I did encourage him to collaborate with me to record his past work and do new recording projects. He declined the offer saying that he was done with the business. He later did produce some recordings which included “Come Back Home for the Carnival”. The lyrics suggested an answer to the fans who longed to hear and see him. I was never able to figure out how to own a copy of this recording.
Big Drum Nation: He was calypsonian and parandero: Did he dominate the Carriacou parang?
Nic Cox: Even though I was not present in Carriacou for the parang competitions, I did follow the happenings to some extent and was always impressed by the groups from the Brunswick/Six Roads area of Carriacou. Their parang groups held true to the history of Brunswick/Six Roads/Mt. Desire being leaders in creative paranging. Rhino may have participated in the Parang Festivals as part of a parang group and not as an individual.
Big Drum Nation: When did he come to the U.S.? How will you remember him?
Nic Cox: Sometimes we live with history, and then have to reflect and research before recording it. I cannot at this moment remember even approximately when Rhino moved to the USA. I do remember him as a very charming fellow. He seemed to carry an eternal smile and was ready to “burst a laugh” at any given moment.
Big Drum Nation: How will Rhino be remembered in Carriacou?
Nic Cox: I am aware of the legacy that Rhino built in Carriacou in the world of calypso. The fans would remember him as one of the greatest. There will be wishes that he was still here to give some more of that great talent bestowed on him.
Big Drum Nation: Thank you.