Music is Survival and Soca is Life!
Some people were born with an ear for music, an innate skill of moving a crowd and are driven with a passion to produce high level, electrifying performances.
Destined for greatness from birth, international DJ Riggo Suave was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York by Panamanian parents. Riggo grew up around the Panamanian community and fully embraced its culture and ideals. His dad, Riggo Senior, was a DJ who played for older crowds, and some of his gigs included Brookdale Hospital Christmas parties, baby showers and weddings events. Riggo Jr. assisted him and following in his footsteps, became a disc jockey in his adolescent years.
At the tender age of 14, Riggo pursued an opportunity to play on the radio, which was provided by Flavor 107.9FM, a Brooklyn radio station. He did not get the opportunity to host the show, but he played music, while DJ Muffman & DJ Marfy, local Brooklyn disc jockeys, worked the mike. This opportunity was his official introduction into the soca community. He soon adapted the “Trini lingo” and subsequently, was often times mistaken for a Trinidadian DJ. He was so ingrained in the Trinidadian soca culture that folks would argue, with his family at times, that he was Trinidadian and not Panamanian.
Riggo attended P.S. 246, Walt Whitman High School, in Brooklyn, New York where he reconnected with an old friend, “Fireman,” who had played with him in a Panamanian marching band when they were younger. They rekindled their friendship and often times, would cut school to hang out at Riggo’s house, where they engaged in friendly sound clashes against each other.
They decided to create their own sounds system and agreed on the name, “Pantrin Vibes,” which was given to them by Riddim International DJ’s; DJ Velcro and DJ Lazy Eye, who initially operated under the name Pantrin Vibes. The name “Pantrin”, was a blend of Panama and Trinidad, and it goes without saying, they were full of vibes!
Pantrin Vibes was thriving and making a name for themselves, then unfortunately, Fireman was met with illness, which prevented him from working with the company for an extended period of time. Riggo acknowledged the importance to keep the sound system in business and continued operating under the name Pantrin Vibes. As a result of Fireman’s absence, Riggo became the face of the company and was soon referred to as Riggo Pantrin. Over time, lines of communication between Riggo and Fireman were blurred and the two eventually dissolved the partnership.
This lead to the emergence of Riggo Suave the brand in 2013. His brand has been met with much success as a result of strategic marketing, great work ethic and a dynamic manager by the name of Neeks, who was a well-established promoter of Caribbean events. Neeks has been managing Riggo for four years and the brand has experienced rapid growth. Riggo offered, “Neeks is not just a manager, but he is like a brother.”
Riggo’s relationships with Neeks coincidentally lead to him becoming soca artiste, Skinny Fabulous’ official DJ. In 2017, Skinny was on the roster for Trucked, a THC Promotions event, held in NYC annually. He asked Neeks for Riggo to play for him; an opportunity Riggo immediately seized. They chatted briefly before the performance and they were so in sync that it appeared as if they had worked with each other in the past.
Following the Trucked performance and after a discussion with Neeks, Riggo called Skinny and stated, “I’m going to be your DJ! What’s good? You down with that?” Skinny gave it some thought, then shortly after, agreed and solidified the deal. They have been working together for the past three years and today, they can complete each other’s musical sentences.
“The pandemic threw a monkey wrench in my plans. I had multiple events locally and internationally that were canceled and I quickly realized the impact on my income” Carnivals canceled, venues closed, limited flights and large gatherings banned – When faced with disruption of business due to a pandemic that alters life’s normal course; with no indication of when things will revert to a level of normalcy, one must use creative thinking and shift mindsets in an effort to survive. The ability to think innovatively is to identify and understand your problem and create unique solutions.
With the industry at the mercy of the pandemic, Riggo’s ability to be innovative was evident, when he hosted themed IG live segments that were captivating to his audience. With the assistance of his mother, his sister Sheeda and friend Kenya; he transformed a room in his home, to showcase carnival themes different party themes and his IG Live was met with much success! His fans have been extremely supportive and have been making donations during his live sessions. Using music as an outlet for him and his fans to combat the pandemic, he strategically kept his brand relevant and was able to generate income.
Although Riggo has Panamanian roots, soca music is embedded in his soul and although Panamanian by birth, he captured the true essence of soca music and fully embraced the carnival culture. Riggo has a love for all music, but, as he stated, “There’s something about soca that takes over the soul and puts me in a zone.” Riggo is continuing to develop and expand his brand and aims to stay true to his values, beliefs and ideals of Caribbean culture. For Riggo, “Music is Survival and Soca is Life!”