In the chrysalis of a small studio located on the outskirts of Port of Spain, a budding movement in urban music and fashion is emerging: local rap collective Successful Addicts Over Everything (S.A.O.E.) is now poised to blaze a new trail in Trinidad’s urban cultural landscape. In a humble space that reverberates with stentorian bass lines and the tangible hum of creativity, this collective of young milennials is creating a sound like nothing that has ever come out of T&T, working tirelessly to eventually take Trinidadian hip-hop and the S.A.O.E. brand onto the world stage.
The root of their drive is mirrored in the collective’s name—an acronym that proclaims their addiction to music, passion, and the pursuit of success. As one member, Sebastian ‘DJ White Lion’ de Verteuil, explains: “Everybody’s addicted to something. Whether it’s exercising, whether it’s eating junk food, you’re addicted to something that keeps you going, and we just decided to be addicted to success.”
A rap collective is a group of solo artists (including rappers, producers, songwriters, sound engineers and DJs) who collaborate to create music under the banner of the collective. In T&T, where imported American rap music is revered, local rap collectives are a rarity. But this is precisely what fuels S.A.O.E.: according to co-founder Will ‘Worm’ Ayoung-Chee, their objective is to prove that it is possible to achieve seemingly unobtainable dreams. For S.A.O.E., that dream is to create a multi-pronged hip-hop brand spanning music, fashion and events.
The seed for S.A.O.E.’s ambitious vision was planted in 2008, when Ayoung-Chee and Ross ‘Abe’ Abraham formed the collective as secondary-school students. Nearly eight years later, S.A.O.E. has expanded to include five more artists, all under 21: de Verteuil, Kris ‘KZ’ Assing, Nate ‘5 Piece’ Young, Jon ‘Jonbanner’ Nduka, and the group’s only female artist, Rae Russell-Hosein.