Photo: Anil Mathi
  /  09.20.2023

The 2023 Melé Destinations event was four days of live waist-twisting, back-breaking Soca music, good vibes and beautiful weather – and I didn’t want it to end.

In partnership with Tribe, one of the biggest – if not the biggest – carnival production companies in the world, the festivities were headed by Soca legend Machel Montano and took place at Moon Palace in Cancun, Mexico on Sept. 7-11. Aside from the obvious main theme being Soca music, I would even add that understanding was another. Let me explain…

If you’re familiar with Montano, you know that he’s been in the music game for decades. He was even bestowed with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the first-ever Caribbean Music Awards, hosted by Wyclef Jean, a week before Melé.

Spending the majority of his life blessing fans with classic tunes, Montano is also a man who’s aware that he has a bigger purpose outside of solely making music. “I always thought that my mission was to take Soca music to the corners of the globe,” he exclusively told REVOLT.

This idea is evident in his current pursuit of his master’s degree in Carnival Studies at the University of Trinidad and Tobago. With his love and passion for the genre, Montano aims to take Soca to the next level. What better way to push this mission than with a festival like Melé celebrating carnival culture?

“Tribe was looking for that next frontier and we had the concept of doing a cruise. Like, taking carnival on a cruise ship. But the pandemic happened, and we got derailed just as we were going to launch this collaboration. So, we switched gears… and came up with the Melé Destinations carnival at a resort in Cancun,” he added.

Soca has been a staple in Caribbean culture for decades. However, it has yet to kick off internationally like its counterparts Reggae and Dancehall, as well as other once-local genres that have crossed waters and boundaries. But, if it’s one thing that Montano is gunning to see through, it’s its international success.

“Soca music has yet to hit the globe in a big way – make its biggest impact – like Reggaeton or like Afrobeats. I think Soca has next once the right things are done,” the icon said.

The musician’s creation of Melé puts his goal on that right path. In its second year, hundreds of people from around the world – most who were of Caribbean ancestry and even some fans from Africa – pulled up to celebrate Soca during the long weekend this month. From the fun, wet and wild pool parties to the night concerts, the event was nonstop vibes. There was even a carnival that took place around the Moon Palace resort and a chill, but unforgettable “Unplugged” performance from Montano, himself. There was no time to sleep. But, who would want to at a place like this?

Some of the acts who took to the stage during the weekend aside from the event’s creator, of course, were Soca artists and favorites Nailah Blackman, Voice, Viking Ding Dong, Skinny Fabulous and more. Attendees showed out and proved they loved every minute by acting up with a dance partner – or several – during the performances. The Cancun nights were as hot as ever.

“I feel like there is something new that we can bring to the carnival manifestation or the carnival product, which will be really interesting for people’s lives, on the level of Woodstock. What Woodstock did for a generation of musicians and people, and for the statements it made about life,” Montano added. “This is the role that carnival will play once we understand our roles and tweak it to be the best it can be.”

Though the festivities celebrated Soca music, one of the biggest highlights was Dancehall/Reggae legend Buju Banton serving as Saturday (Sept. 9) night’s headlining performer. It was a slight, yet much-appreciated switch in the scene.

“I’m a big Buju fan. Buju is an icon,” Montano said before explaining the history between the two worlds. “For Reggae and Dancehall to really meet with Soca, it’s been tough in the past. One is conscious Reggae music and one is seen as fun, and sometimes it’s like mixing oil and water. But a lot of Buju Banton’s inspiration is in my music, and now, a lot of the music that Dancehall is making is inspired by Soca and Calypso. So, I feel like we’ve come full circle, and to be able to see eye-to-eye and meet in events like this where you have fans who love both sides of music is amazing.”

The Soca legend added, “It was really an honor for Buju to accept the invitation and for us to present that to our fans.”

And the fun only intensified from there. Though we were in the popular Mexican city, the Carib vibes were so high this weekend that they easily made attendees feel like they were back home on their respective islands. Nevertheless, the belief that Soca should be bigger, more celebrated and is so powerful that it should expand outside the Caribbean remained present throughout.

Recalling his reasoning for launching the festival, Montano said, “Taking these new frontiers like Melé, with Tribe, to places like Cancun and involving all of these Soca artists, these are platforms that we can reach out to people like Spring Breakers or we can reach out to people across the globe… There is some way we can find that version that would speak of what carnival does to the soul. What carnival does for the body and mind.”

To be completely honest, Melé was the best vacation I’ve ever been on – and I’m someone who’s traveled almost every year of my life since I was a baby. Unlike other music events, there was something special about this one, and I strongly believe it was because of Montano’s personal touch as well as his immense passion for the culture. Big corporations can make events happen, no problem. But, it takes a certain level of care to make people feel something in their spirit at a major – far from intimate — gathering. That is what Melé did for me.

Before closing out day four of the celebration on Sunday (Sept. 10) night during his headlining show, Montano shared a message to all of the Americans of Caribbean decent in the audience. “We want to take Soca to the globe. To the world. We need people like you to invite your friends – and when I say friends… I mean white people (whispers)… and African Americans,” he said as people giggled in the crowd.

If you ask me, Mr. Montano, you’re doing one hell of a job so far. But, I still got you.



View More



View More


Walmart has the home essentials for everyone on your holiday shopping list

Below, our gift guide highlights some of our favorite Walmart finds for anyone in need of a home refresh.

  /  11.24.2023

5 things you need to know about the 2023 Billboard Music Awards

“REVOLT Black News” correspondent Kennedy Rue counts down the top five moments from the 2023 Billboard Music Awards, including surprising wins, historic firsts, and dope performances. Sponsored by Amazon.

  /  11.20.2023

The Auditions | 'Shoot Your Shot'

The competition begins at REVOLT WORLD as rising rappers, singers, and musicians line up to audition for their spot on the main stage. Brought to you by McDonald’s.

  /  11.28.2023

Dig In & Drink Up | 'Bet on Black'

In this new episode of ‘Bet on Black,’ food and beverage take center stage as aspiring Black entrepreneurs from It’s Seasoned, Black Farmer Box, and Moors Brewing Co. present their business ideas to judges with mentorship from Melissa Butler. Watch here!

  /  11.15.2023

Walmart's Makers Studio at REVOLT WORLD transformed passion into progress

Take a look inside the Makers Studio presented by Walmart at REVOLT WORLD, a space where Black creators could hone in on their brand and see it come to life.

  /  12.04.2023

Meet The Semifinalists | 'Shoot Your Shot'

Get to know our semifinalists a little better. Learn what motivated them to shoot their shot, as well as how they describe their personality, and sound.

  /  12.05.2023

Walmart brings in heavy-hitters for Black and Unlimited Tour panel

REVOLT is continuing its impactful partnership with Walmart by teaming up to showcase Black creatives at HBCUs all-across America. The panel consisted of three experienced, accomplished Black HBCU alumni: Actor and media personality Terrence J, entertainment attorney John T. Rose, and actress and “REVOLT Black News” correspondent Kennedy-Rue McCullough.

  /  11.30.2023

Walmart's Opportunity Center at REVOLT WORLD empowered HBCU students

Fly Guy DC taps in with REVOLT WORLD attendees to learn what the Opportunity Center, presented by Walmart, means to them and their futures.

  /  12.04.2023

Fly Guy DC highlighted HBCU students' passion and pride at REVOLT WORLD

Walmart supports HBCU students and encourages them to be Black & Unlimited. Fly Guy DC talked to a few at REVOLT WORLD about how being an HBCU student has changed their lives.

  /  12.05.2023

The $200,000 goes to… | 'Bet on Black'

In the season finale of “Bet on Black,” special guest judge Ray J joins as the finalists take the main stage to show they have what it takes to win the $200,000 grand prize; Melissa Butler and Eunique Jones Gibson mentor. Presented by Target.

  /  12.04.2023

So Phresh, so clean | 'Bet on Black'

There’s only one round left as the last few founders – Terra-Tory, Phreshly, and ConditionHER – pitch to the “Bet on Black” judges for their chance in the finals and winning the grand prize; Eunique Jones Gibson mentors. Watch here!

  /  12.04.2023

Dr. Jaqueline Echols' mission to cure environmental racism

The health of a community can often be traced to the health of the environment that surrounds it. In Atlanta, a woman named Dr. Jaqueline Echols has dedicated her life to helping ensure that people in economically underserved communities have clean rivers – for better health and for the joy of outdoor recreational space.

  /  12.01.2023

Mogul made | 'Moguls In The Making'

REVOLT presents this special look back at the first five years of Ally’s Moguls in the Making program, an entrepreneurial competition celebrating HBCU students and their innovative, community-driven business ideas.

  /  12.05.2023

16 best hip hop video games of all time

From Def Jam: Vendetta, Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style, DJ Hero and more, we list our favorite hip hop videos games of all time. Did yours make the cut? 

  /  11.06.2023

Investing in stocks in a recession | 'Maconomics'

Host Ross Mac provides useful advice for preparing your personal finances in the event of a recession. He emphasizes the importance of budgeting properly, building an emergency fund, and maintaining discipline when investing.

  /  11.21.2023

17 rappers named after food to make you crave their music

Here’s a list of rappers who are named after food. Enjoy — or shall we say, “Bon appetit”? 

  /  11.21.2023

DDG has his sights set on becoming a fashion hero & talks Halle Bailey being his "best friend"

In this exclusive interview, DDG opens up about his fashion inspiration, what drew him to girlfriend Halle Bailey, dealing with negative opinions about his relationship, and more. Read up!

  /  11.28.2023

15 inspirational Eminem lyrics for his fans to lose themselves in

Whether it be the triumphant “Not Afraid” or resilient “Soldier,” Eminem’s music has the power to inspire you to reach your goals. 

  /  11.18.2023

17 of Megan Thee Stallion's most motivational lyrics

The artist has remained remarkably consistent in her song lyrics about making money, telling off haters and feeling liberated since her debut.

  /  11.07.2023

27 Drake lyrics that are perfect Instagram captions

The next time you’re looking for a caption for your perfectly curated Instagram, there’s a 95 percent chance that Drizzy’s got you!

  /  11.08.2023
View More
Revolt - New Episodes