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?

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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.

KONPA DIREK IS DOOMED WITHOUT ITS HISTORY

Nemours Jean Baptiste, father of Konpa Direk

If Nemours Jean Baptiste could use his musical ingenuity to create and leave behind for us Haitians something as precious and valuable as Konpa Direk, this musical genre we all love so much, there is no reason as to why we should not develop and expand its portfolio.

The history of the evolution of Konpa Direk, the Haitian people’s most popular musical genre, is yet to be documented; it is still in its oral state.

After over 50 years of the creation of the music, there is not much one can find out there in terms of written historical facts on its origin and evolution.

There are no scholarly written documents or books one can put their hands on to satiate their crave for knowledge about Konpa Direk. We only have a few guys here and there, Mario Devolcy is one of them, showing off their knowledge whenever someone cares enough to interview them. This is not the way it should be.

If we dream to see our music going somewhere in the future, we need to start building the library of Konpa Direk. And the most effective way to do so is by documenting the facts about the music, which we are not doing effectively as of yet.

The history of our Konpa Direk, as I stated above, unfortunately, is still in its oral state. Nothing is being documented, and that is after half of a century of its birth. What are we waiting for to make it happen? Are we waiting for the “Blancs” to come do it for us as they did for our history as a people? We know already all the lies they have reported about our history, so the idea of having them write for us the history of our Konpa would be foolish to say the least.

If I am to research on the history of Konpa Direk, and I decide to go to my city library or my university library to collect books on the music -to enable me to document my work -would I find anything to ease the burden and facilitate my work? I strongly doubt it. Yet, you bet if I am to research on the history and evolution of Jazz, Rock and Roll, Blues, R&B or Rap, I will find an array of written documents. If I refuse to give in to the obvious lack of available documents and decide to break all the barriers and move forward with the research, I will have to interview a guy like Mario Devolcy, whom I consider as a Konpa oral historian, and have him empty his brain to me until he passes out.    

Nothing took place if it was not documented. We need to keep that in mind. It is not too late to reengage and move the history of our music forward, meaning from its oral to literary state for the generations to come to have a foundation they can be proud to build on.

I would not mind volunteering my service in whatever capacity for the realization of such project, and I am certain others would be delighted to take part in it. After over 50 years of the existence of Konpa Direk, it is despicable to still have its history in its oral state. We need to be publishing the facts about the music –from its inception to what it has become today. So I am thinking of a way we can make that happen. I see someone like Mario Devolcy as a living resource. We can work with him to help us to make the idea of publishing the books on the history of Konpa Direk become a matter of reality. Are we waiting for him to expire before we can start working on that? I hope not as such effort is long overdue.

THE FUTURE OF WOMEN IN KONPA DIREK

Saida: former backup singer of Hangout

For those of you who may not know, Konpa Direk is Haiti’s most popular genre of music. It is the legacy of two great Haitian musicians –Weber Sicot and Nemours Jean Baptiste. This is the music the majority of the Haitian people play at social gatherings (parties) and blast in their cars. When these two men created Konpa, however, I am not sure they had women in mind. So the question is, after a little over fifty years since the creation of Konpa Direk, is there a future for women in this music business?

Konpa is yet to be a comfort zone for women. It is a male-dominated world with only a few women struggling, despite all the humiliations they are being victim of, to gain some degree of recognition. From Cleo, Georgie, Mei Mei and Saida of Hangout to Sandra of Zin and Stacey of Tempo, the women have not been given the respect they deserve. For the most part, they are being “sexploited,” sexually harassed and/or treated as second class artists.

I’ve heard many people making the argument that if you dream of having a long-lasting band, keep the women away; the moment they integrate the band, trouble will surface. The men will be competing against each other to see who will be the first to knock her out or sleep with her. And once you have band members competing against each other over matters that have nothing to do with music, unity and esprit de corps, essential elements for the band’s success, will be greatly impacted. That alone will suffice to place the band on the verge of disorganization, chaos and destruction.

If the aforementioned reality really exists inside the Konpa bands, I think management is slacking in its duty. The job of the manager of the band, if I may, is to set the guidelines as to what behaviors are appropriate and what are not. In other words, the job of the manager is to come up with policies that would praise good deeds and punish misconduct. When you have mediocre folks that don’t know what they are doing managing these bands, of course, you can expect the women to be treated like pieces of meat for all the men to prey on.

Is there a future for women in this business? I am very hopeful that things will change for the better for women. But that won’t happen until management can step up to the plate and lead these bands with an impeccable level of professionalism. I am also hopeful that things will get better for these women when they (the women) start realizing that favoritism can only take them this far. Should they integrate these bands, the decision should be made on the basis of talents and merit, not favoritism. If it is based on favoritism or solely on their good looks, they will have to sell their dignity by making hideous concessions only to secure their positions.