Evolution: Cubano Did It Again

SkahShah1-Evolution

It’s 2:00 AM, I am currently auditioning EVOLUTION, Cubano’s latest album, which I just purchased for a derisory price tag on CDbaby. This is, indeed, a Konpa evolution by any standard.

Skah Shah #1 has evolved to something totally modern. When you have an array of talented artists in the caliber of Shedly Abraham, Jean Max Valcourt, Yves Albert Abel, Danny P just to name a few contributing to this project, you cannot expect anything less than a masterpiece –with potential to transcend generations.

I highly recommend it; you will not regret the investment. No, I am not getting paid for this little shout-out. To me, this is nothing but a small token of appreciation for a piece of art so well crafted. BRAVO!!!

Songs to watch for their hit potential:

Rev an Mwen

Aimer

Macho Man

Allons Danser

Maria

Contributing artists:

1 – On The Move (Evolution) [feat. Shedly Abraham, Jean max valcourt & Yves Albert Abel]
2 – Reve an mwen (feat. Shedly Abraham)
3 – Aimer (feat. Shedly Abraham & Jean Max Valcourt)
4 – Macho Man (feat. Shedly Abraham, Jean Max Valcourt, Yves Albert Abel & Bobby Jam)
5 – La vie pa Konplike (feat. Jean Max Valcourt)
6 – Skah Shah #1 (feat. Shedly Abraham, Gazzman Pierre, Roberto Martino, Jean Herard Richie, Michael Guirand, Shabba Djakout Mizik, Olivier Duret, Mac D Talon, Ti Joe Zenny, Prince Ello, Stanley Toussaint, Kenny Desmangles, 5lan & China Blak)
7 – Allons danser (feat. Danny P & Yves Albert Abel)
8 – Maria (feat. Shedly Abraham, Jean Max Valcourt & Yves Albert Abel)

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Lil Wayne and Chris Brown Were in Haiti for a Concert of Controversy

On Friday, June 26, 2015, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, Swizz Beatz and a panoply of Haitian artists came together under the label of Big O Production of Olivier Martelly, the oldest son of President Martelly of Haiti, to produce the biggest and most controversial concert in the entertainment history of the nation.

According to The Source, an American entertainment magazine, “over 100,000 people” turned out on Champs de Mars, the country’s largest public square, to witness history being made.

Days before the kickoff of the fest, Haitians from all walks of life came out on the radio, street corners and social media to shed their commentaries in support or against it.

The people were diametrically divided on the tenure of the event. If some believed that the moment was not to celebrate, especially not at a time when the Dominican government was deporting illegally and indiscriminately thousands of our people, Olivier Martelly believed otherwise. He saw in the free concert an opportunity to put Haiti in the international spotlight and on the global tourist map. Speaking to Ticket Magazine, he stated:

I am personally very passionate about everything having to do with my country, Haiti. The artists are aware of everything and hope to attract positive attention to the country […] Haiti is back on the world tourist map for some time. Welcoming these megastars is a huge publicity campaign for us. Check out the commentaries on the internet ever since the word about the concert has been out, everybody is talking about it.

Carel Pedre of Radio One, opined along the same lines as Olivier on his radio show as reported by Le Nouvelliste in an article entitled Un concert qui tombe mal. He just could not see how a free concert could harm anything. For him, all the polemic that surrounded the concert was due to the fact that the people were left with the impression that the government did not seem to care about the deportees, who were arriving on our soil in record numbers from the Dominican Republic.

Two things had caused and fueled the controversy that surrounded the concert:

a. the unexpected sociopolitical conjoncture created by the deportation of thousands of our brothers and sisters from the Dominican Republic;

b. the people behind it are related to the country’s political leadership.

Both Olivier and Carel were right on target –from an entertainment perspective. But too bad they are not politicians. They were looking at the concert, and I would not hold that against them, only from an entertainment perspective. That’s where they got it all misconstrued. Whether they wanted it or not, and it was very unfortunate, the event had more of a political connotation than anything else.

In politics, there is this concept called TIMING, a major factor in thinking through political strategies and actions. We have seen such concept played out all the time in American politics. You have to be able to choose the right timing to make political moves. Otherwise, the political fallouts you would have to deal with could be very dreadful and cataclysmic.

Regardless how one is going to spin the politics of the concert to make it fit all rules of political correctness, it is not going to sit well in the court of public opinion, not when it was hosted by the President’s son at a time when we are dealing with an unprecedented sociopolitical situation with the massive deportation of thousands of our people from the Dominican Republic.

The idea behind the concert is great. I personally support it and think we should host concerts of such magnitude in the country every Spring Break or summer in an attempt to sell the paradisiac nature of our country and attract tourists on our shores to come spend money in the economy. The only issue with it was that the timing was POLITICALLY off. But aside from that, I think Big O Production should not and must not let the politics that surrounds this first experience stop him from putting together other concerts of this envergure in the future.

Kenny Desmangles Should Join Disip

Some people may have assumed, unrightfully so, that I have an issue with Kenny F. Desmangles, especially after they had read my commentaries on his decision to leave Zenglen.

Not at all and absolutely not. I do not have an issue with the artist. The thing is, though, I admire his talent too much to be able to tell him what others won’t –maybe for the sake of complacency, or they want to tell him what he wants to hear [even when what he wants to hear is very destructive for his music career].

Like me or not, I have one obligation, and that is to tell you the honest truth. Now, what you choose to do with it, after I put it out raw to you, is your business.

It has been noise that the artist’s next move beyond Zenglen could be his solo career, especially after he had dropped this banging solo album entitled Full Sèvis [I highly recommend it; it’s very good].

Well, I object to such idea for the simple fact that going solo in Konpa is recipe for career suicide. He needs to be in a band. Otherwise, he can kiss his music career goodbye.

Before all you Konpa analysts refute my objection, I want you to tell me one Konpa solo artist who made it in the business. Well, for the sake of being optimistic, maybe Kenny will be the first to defy the norm; you never know.

Another chatter out there has it that he will reassemble 509. If this is, indeed, his plan going forward, he needs to be very honest with himself and his supporters to see if this is the best and most advantageous move for him. If I were to advise him, I would tell him not to let his short-sightedness and foolish ambitions guide him to embark on this dead-end journey.

Okay, Emann Joasil, you don’t think going solo or reconstructing 509 is the best decision for him, we understand that. But what in your opinion he should do?

Good question! As I briefly stated earlier, he needs to be in a band. There is absolutely no question about that. But which one of them, though? That is exactly the million-dollar question we need to tackle.

In my opinion, Disip is the perfect fit for him. What makes you think so, Emann Joasil?

Okay, let me explain. In Disip he will be next to Gazzman Couleur, a career vocalist, a superstar, someone having nothing to prove anymore in the business and with whom he will not have to worry about finding himself in competition for stardom and influence. Any of these other bands he would integrate, he will find himself caught up in futile, childish, and stupid competition with this other vocalist he will be standing next to, which will have negative drawbacks on the band’s upward progression and forward mobility. That’s a sad reality we cannot overlook if we want to be accurate in our analysis.

Also, in Disip these two guys will establish a complementary relationship –exactly like it was in Nu Look with Gazzman and Arly –which will make it possible for the two of them to shine together. He complements Gazzman just like Gazzman complements him. Gazzman is a stage animal, he is not quite. Yet, he is a great producer, arranger and composer; Gazzman is not quite. He can handle the Konpa Love tunes better than Gazzman can [I presume]; Gazzman can handle the uptempo tunes way better than he can [I presume]. That is what is called a complementary relationship.

Kenny Desmangles will have to come out some time soon to tell us what his next move will be. I am hoping he makes the best move for himself. In the meantime, I am calling on Gazzman to meet up with him for lunch to talk business. Gazzman needs to make him a juicy or sweet offer he cannot refuse, and it must be on paper.

We have to conserve and protect the artist. It will hurt me to see such a talent vanishing in the firmament like so many talented artists before him because of “bad” decisions. I have nothing to gain in his success or lose in his failure. As a concerned observer and lover of Konpa, I was only brainstorming on a situation that pertains to a young artist of my generation. That’s all. Well, what do I know?

Haiti Carnival and Politics: My Take

Kanaval

I think a lot of changes need to be brought to the organization of the Carnival. It is and has always been a pro-government festivity.

President Martelly has brought a lot of changes [for example, holding it in a different city each year to bring thousands of people out to explore what our cities have to offer], but a lot more need to be implemented.

We need to take the Carnival off the yoke of the political establishment and place it in the hands of the private sector so to render it more effective. The only involvement of the government we would need would have to do with logistical and security supports. That’s it.

The committee put together to organize the event is constituted of puppets under the dictate of the government, which makes it a political organization hired to organize a pro-government political manifestation. And this is not anything new, for it has always been that way.

Some groups you do not see in the parade, in spite of their great efforts to produce some of the best meringues of the season, that has to do with a matter of political vendetta -which is is wrong. We need to institute a system of meritocracy -which is based on merit, not favoritism.

Darguste, Mezile and Racine seek to police behavior in Haiti

Josette Darguste, Minister of Culture

Josette Darguste, Minister of Culture

You have 3 women at the highest level of our Haitian government -Josette Darguste, Yanick Mezile and Magalie Racine -respectively Minister of Culture, Minister of Women’s Rights and Minister of Youth and Sports, who probably are in their 50s, thinking that they can police behavior in the country. They are trying to tell women how to dress and dance “appropriately” in public festivities.

This is a war they are not going to win because wars against time can never be won; time always comes out victorious.

What these ministers need to be reminded of is that morality cannot be regularized, for what is perceived to be immoral for them may be moral for others. Haiti is not a theocratic state; it is, rather, a secular state. Therefore, they cannot be going around telling people what to wear and how to dance in public. This is absurd.

What is going on in the Haitian society today is what we call in sociology “clash of generations,” which we witness in almost every human society. The older folks always believe that their generations were better than the emerging ones. And that in itself is a misconception.

Yanick Mezile, Minister of Women's Rights

Yanick Mezile, Minister of Women’s Rights

The emerging generations are not “bad” or “deviant” as some want to believe; they are simply different than their predecessors.

These folks who now think they can police behavior in our society, at some point in time, their generations too were viewed as “bad” in the eyes of those from the generations that preceded theirs.

So instead of badmouthing these young women for the way they are, thinking that we are or were better than them, we need to understand and embrace them as they are NOT going to change; they are not going to be like Darguste, Mezile, Racine and the rest of you conservative-minded Haitians want them to be.

Magalie Racine, Minister of Youth and Sports

Magalie Racine, Minister of Youth and Sports

These young women will be at the Carnival in their tank tops and boy shorts or “pantalon san fouk” doing their Dutty Wine. Those of you who don’t welcome or like the way they are, go ahead and arrest them to see if that is not going to cause an international outcry, enough to embarrass or shame the entire nation.

We act like we are living on an isolated and remote planet called Haiti all by ourselves. The world is forever connected more than ever before, so cultural protectionism is not the way to go as it will render us outdated and out of realm. Even Cuba is now trying to open up because these folks have finally come to the conclusion that cultural protectionism or isolationism is hurting them tremendously.

Carimi’s Invasion Has Irritated Many

Carimi

After CARIMI, a New York-based Konpa band, has dropped the music video for the song KITA NAGO off THE INVASION, their latest album, the critics on the conservative side of the musical spectrum did not waste any time to gear up and go on the counterattack. Their most vicious and debilitating attack to date is that that CARIMI is not playing Konpa; therefore, they are destroying the music.

I don’t know what these critics’ motives are, but to suggest that the band is destroying the music because they sound different and unique, I think that is taking the criticisms a little bit too far.

Here is the video for the song KITA NAGO that is causing all this traffic, all these chatters and jabbers. They dropped it in prelude to the release of the album, a way to introduce THE INVASION. Whoever produces it did a tremendous job. It is very mainstream -out of the ordinary for a Konpa music video. Check it out for yourself.

I don’t see them destroying our Konpa at all. I only see a music that is mutating the same way it did in the late 80’s and early 90’s with bands such as Papash, Zin, Zèklè, etc.

When these aforementioned bands were making the twist back then, they were being slammed left and right with the same illogical criticisms as the ones CARIMI is facing today. In fact, some prominent Konpa show hosts on the radio would not even play their songs on their shows; they were being penalized simply because they sounded different and wanted to revolutionize the music.

I hope these conservative-minded folks did not expect the Konpa CARIMI is playing to sound like Meridional des Cayes of the 80’s.

Music is like culture in that it cannot be enclosed as it tends to evolve. Otherwise, it will cease to exist.

Our music has to change because our musicians are being exposed to all sorts of influences, which is a very good thing. And that happens with every genre of music -Rap, Jazz, Blues, R&B, Rock & Roll, Reggae, etc…

If you listen to Tropicana, one of the pillars of our Konpa music, you will realize they too have changed for the better. The Tropic of the past decades does not sound the same at all as that of today. Being able to change at the rhythm of time is exactly what has blessed them with such a longevity. And the same goes for Tabou Combo.

The criticisms CARIMI is facing from these conservative-minded folks is just normal. We should have expected them to show such degree of reluctance. But nothing is wrong with the band per se. If anything, they are the ones with the problem. Carimi is playing KONPA DIREK -a different kind, of course.

Some people are afraid of change because they see that as a menace to an established order. They will resist anything that is asking them to move out of their comfort zone. So their issue is purely psychological.

I go by a different philosophy. I see change as a growing process. You have to change in order to grow and exist. Otherwise, you will die. The forces of nature will eat you up.

So CARIMI was forced to change their style of Konpa to stay relevant in the Haitian and international markets. On that, I congratulate them on their latest album. I am proud of them because they represent us in the Northeast with flying stars. They are working tirelessly to make my dream come true -to see New York reclaim or regain its title of “Mecca of Konpa Direk in the Diaspora” like it used to be back then, before Florida snatched it from us. To all you critics, THE INVASION has just begun. If you cannot join in, I suggest you get out of the way so you don’t get crushed. And that is a fair warning, not a threat.

ARLY LARIVIERE Needs To Call The Winning Play

Arly Lariviere: Nu Look's maestro

Arly Lariviere: Nu Look’s maestro

ARLY LARIVIERE must not doubt his plan to restructure NU LOOK and become the sole lead vocalist of his band. I stand strong and firm behind this decision of his.

Some doubt that this decision will work for him. Well, I have something to tell these doubters: anything in life in can work out. It is all about how well you are going to present it with all the changes brought to it [if any] to the interested people.

When you are going to battle, you can only bring with you and count on the weapons you have in your arsenal. He needs to count on himself and no one else. No one musician in this business is worth being counted on; they are nothing but a bunch of mercenaries looking for “kote dlo a ap koule pi fre pou yo a.”

ARLY needs to envision a banging delivery strategy to change the game. Part of that strategy should be for him to change the production mode of the band. What do I mean by that? He needs to count on his forte, which is KONPA LOVE. Forget about the hardcore Konpa. Stay away from that. In fact, if you study the trends carefully in this Konpa music production, you will realize that the Konpa Love tunes carry the weight that could determine the lifespan or life expectancy of any given album -if it is going to make it or if it is going to be a hit album.

He will also need to invest some money in developing a marketing strategy to make the market accept this new facelift done to the band -facelift in terms of structure and production. What will that do? That will play in the psychology of the market to make the consumers accept what they could or would be reluctant to accept and embrace. That is the power of marketing.

So ARLY has what the market is craving for. He has the ingredients to cook the good food, so he only needs to take his time to prepare something that will wake up the gastronomy of the market.

Maestro, this game is yours to lose. Make it happen just like you had done it before. You can do it, man. Do not doubt yourself; it is going to work.

BRUTUS: The Man Behind The Post-Richie Zenglen Revolution

Brutus of Zenglen

BRUTUS, the band leader and substitute guitarist in the Konpa band Zenglen, has got to be given a lot of respect for his leadership skills in this Konpa business.

He has commendably accomplished something no other musician in the Haitian music arena has done before, at least not as far back I can recall in my recent memory.

He has resurrected Zenglen at a time when most were ready to write them off and count them out. Because he is not a flashy dude, a noise-making individual like many in this business, many have overlooked his leadership accomplishments.

Some on the consumer side of the spectrum may think it is easy to pick up the lead of a company -after it has been hit by a severe and damaging storm -and take it to one of the highest picks of its success. This is not a cakewalk.

After the resignation of RICHIE, El POZO and JUDE SEVERE [3 key and imposing players of the band] at once, ZENGLEN should have been a band of the past, meaning it should have been in history book by now. But BRUTUS was not ready to retire the brand name ZENGLEN yet. He had prevailed on these types of gloomy and morose seasons before. What did he do that was so remarkable to stand him out so plausibly from the bunch?

He went back to the strategy room and came out with a battle strategy to get the band back in the game with a great sense of imposition. He did not stop there, though. He reconstructed the band, rejuvenated the confidence level of his players, and got them ready for war.

Now, by the level of work being done in REZILTA, their masterpiece album recently released, everybody, including the naysayers and doubters, is approving and admiring the REZILTA of Brutus’s hard work and leadership savviness.

The moral lesson of this story is this: In life, you should never underestimate one’s potential. You will never know what a person is capable of doing until he or she is challenged by unexpected life occurrences and has to make life and death decisions to turn things around in a positive way and be accounted for.

Brutus was challenged and, because he believes in himself and his last standing soldiers, did what he had to do to keep the ship afloat and prevent it from sinking. He did not spend his time in memory lane looking back and dwelling on the past; rather, he got back on the battlefield, engaged the enemy, and came out victorious. That is LEADERSHIP.

I am going to see if [at any of these Haitian music award ceremonies] a leadership award is not going to be attributed or awarded to this man. We must not wait when he no longer matters for us to honor him and his team of rescuers. Because of their hard work, we can still be proud of ZENGLEN today as we have always been.

Disip May Not Live To Celebrate Its 5th Anniversary

Abdel & Gazzman Couleur

Whatever issue the DISIP management has -causing the band not to be able to keep its musicians -needs to be rectified.

After the dissension that went down between the leadership of the band and La Porte, Pluviose, Ti Dou, and others, having caused them to part ways, it is now the turn of ABDEL, the band’s sole saxophonist, to leave, and that is on some very bad terms. Explaining the reasons for his decision, Abdel said:

  1. “After I expressed my thoughts publicly on KM [Kompamagazine.com], GAZZMAN and I were uncomfortable with each other…”
  2. “There is no camaraderie in the band…”
  3. “They don’t want you to express yourself if you are not happy with something…”
  4. “Manager Patrick Fabre is very rude to the musicians. He speaks to them however he wants. They want ZOMBIES in the band…”
  5. “I was just uncomfortable in the band…”
  6. “NEG YO SE YON MOUVEMENT KAP FET. YON MOUVEMENT POU YO KOURI FE ANPIL KOB…LE PLUS VITE KE POSSIB [These guys put this movement together to rake in as much money as they can in a very short time]. It’s not like a real band….”

This is what you call bad press, and such does not help to preserve the DISIP brand. These guys need to get their game plan together to prevent nonsense like this one from occurring. We have seen enough of these mishaps already.

How can I tell if a business institution is not doing well with its employees? All I need to do is to  see its Employee Turnover Report. That will tell me how difficult it is for the institution to keep its employees. If the report is looking gloomy, that is an indication that the management or leadership team is not up to par with the job of managing the staff.

Employee satisfaction is a must for the progression forward of any business institution. If the work environment is not conducive to employee satisfaction, you will definitely have an increase in your employee turnover rate. Making sure your employees are satisfied cannot be that hard. All it takes is respect and good interpersonal skills.

How can a business institution be productive if its employees doing the buck of the work are not satisfied? If the employees are happy with the work environment and the way they are being treated, of course, that will reflect in their work performance and productivity. And the opposite is just as true.

After ABDEL, who else is next to leave the band? If the reasons he gave to Kompamagazine for leaving the band are factual, it is very unfortunate things had to come to this. My prognosis is this: if DISIP does not get its act together, if they do not address the problem at the management level, they may not live to celebrate their fifth anniversary. The band will disintegrate, and that will be a big loss for our music. So the management team needs to take the business of managing the band very seriously. Managing a team composed of people of different and unique personalities is not a cakewalk. It is a challenging affair, requiring savoir faire, not charlatanism and amateurism.

Carnival of Flowers: An Economic, Not Political Factor

I have zero problem with the Carnival of Flowers currently going on in Port-au-Prince. In fact, I support it 100%. I’m not a politician, so I leave the politics surrounding the necessity of holding it to those who want to make it a political matter.

In my opinion, we need to push this event even harder. So I propose that we hold next year a week long of festivities, rather. That means, in a Summer Break spirit, along with the Carnival of Flowers, let’s hold a series of events to be ended with a big time international music festival (possibly on one of our beautiful beaches). And the promotion for this package of events for next year needs to start right away, right after this one.

These represent opportunities for the private sector to make money. The government should not have to spend a dime to organize them -other than providing security/logistical support to the private sector. That should be the extent of the government’s involvement.

These types of festivities could be organized on a larger scale and promoted on the global stage as our traditional cultural landmarks to encourage people all over the world to come and experience them.

Of course, this first time around is not going to be as successful as expected. But for the subsequent times to be, there has got to be this first time, which many are very critical and hostile to.

If many tend to look at this Carnival of Flowers as a waste, I see it as a business investment with great economic potentials. The product seems to look good to my standard; like any business investment, its success will depend on how hard and smart we are willing to work in order to market it around the world to attract potential buyers (the national and foreign tourists).

Yes, the country is facing one of the worst economic moments in its history, but nothing is wrong with holding the Carnival of Flowers to try to attract potential tourists; we only need to change our approach to organizing and marketing it. So let’s put politics aside and stop wasting our time criticizing the administration for something our shortsightedness has not allowed us to grasp.