This piece is not intended to come to the rescue of Rap Kreyol; I don’t think the musical genre does need Emann Joasil to come to its recue. It has more knowledgeable and more suitable people, I assume, to do the job for it. And I am not even a big fan of Rap music, whether it be American Rap or Rap Kreyol. This article, however, is going to address a very important issue that seems to have a toll on our world of music production.

Let me start off by asking this very bold and pertinent question: Why are some of our Konpa artists so panicky when it comes to the surprising evolution and revolution of Rap Kreyol? Let’s get something straight once and for all. The movement will not be put to rest or go away just because some in the Konpa world decide to engage in a badmouthing or denigrating campaign. You guys need to chill!!!! Like we say in our Creole, “mete yon blok glas sou lestomak nou.”

Just like the emergence or explosion of Rasin music during the early 1990’s did not force Konpa to retirement, Rap Kreyol will not do it either. Rap Kreyol is nothing but an add-on to the country’s musical mosaic. Instead of being resentful, we need to be receptive to it; we need to welcome it with open arms, for diversity or plurialism is always desirable or socially and economically beneficial to the consumers.

When Rap music was picking up steam in the American society in the 1980’s, musical genres such as Jazz, Blues, R&B, Country Music, Rock & Roll and others did not feel threatened. Instead, they fastened up their belts to battle through production and marketing to secure their positions in the American entertainment market.

Everybody will get a piece of the pie. So there is no need to panic. This is the time for our Konpa artists/bands to start thinking big and start thinking about leaving their comfort zones. There is no guarantee in a market of 9 million consumers with very limited purchasing power. The time is urgent for our Konpa bands/artists to be going big on exploring other markets on the international arena.

Rap Kreyol is not, has never been, and will never be Konpa’s problem. Konpa’s main problem is Konpa itself. It needs a new approach to production and marketing if it must see another fifty years. Otherwise, that genre of music, which we proudly call our musical identity, may end up in history book.

There is a law of production that says that the quality of any finished output is a reflection of the quality of raw materials going into its production process. So it is time to bring quality resources into the production of our musical outputs. In other words, we need to bring skilled people or professionals in every aspect of the business –production, marketing, distribution, etc.

These days, our Konpa musicians refuse to challenge themselves to produce the quality of music that can transcend markets and generations. Putting everything in perspective, it is fair enough to argue that in a sense we were desperately waiting for the challenge Rap Kreyol is giving Konpa today. If anything, we need to be thankful to Rap Kreyol for coming just in time to wake up Konpa from the coma it has long been diving in. The wake-up call was long overdue.

The Konpa bands/artists were getting too lazy and comfortable. Production was getting very subpar in a less demanding market -where mediocrity, charlatanism and amateurism were becoming tokens of appreciation. Almost all the bands in the Konpa landscape wanted to sound identical or like the most influential and successful ones. There was a sort of bandwagon every single band wanted to jump on. Originality was nothing but a vague and coreless expression. And what they failed to realize was that when you are a duplicate you can never get to outperform the original or real thing. So real competition, being the drive capable of making the players in the market go beyond their reaches, was basically inexistent.

Rap Kreyol is not going anywhere. So if it cannot be drawn away, it makes sense to join hands with it. To all my diehard Konpa lovers/admirers and Rap Kreyol bashers, I want to urge you to look for the enemy elsewhere; it certainly is not Rap Kreyol. To our Kreyol Rappers, keep doing what you have been doing and even better. Don’t see Konpa as a target. To do so will be to put it on a pedestal it does not even belong. Rather, see the sky of the global market as your only limit. Keep producing great music and keep representing our musical colors wherever you guys happen to be.


The photo for the CD cover of the latest CARIMI album entitled BUZZ

Yes, I said it -KOMPA needs a makeover ASAP. In fact, it has long been overdue; it reaches the breaking point of boredom. Almost everybody is now playing the same thing and sounding the same. Many are asking, why is that?

KONPA artists, for the most part, are known for their conservativeness and narrow-mindedness, could that be the reason? Also, could it be that the majority of them don’t have the education background to better appreciate music and the historical knowledge of music to research and bring new materials to our musical mosaic?

As the market is changing, so should our music. In the United States, for instance, the music industry is constantly changing. Every 10 years or so, one can expect to experience a change in direction, a breakthrough or something new to go mainstream. Had it not been for JAZZ and BLUES of the 1940s and DISCO of the 70s and 80s, we would have not had the today’s R&B, one of the most popular Afro-American musical genres as we speak. All that stemmed from the competitive nature of the market environment.

The players in the American Music Industry are very aware of the negative impact of sameness and stagnancy on the market; they tend to stall market progress and development. So in such an ever-changing market environment, should you want to maintain a competitive advantage, you have got to keep moving with the flow and rhythm of the market. Otherwise, you will be left behind, and you will become obsolete overnight.

In the Haitian music environment, CARIMI is now testing the market with a new buzz in sound –a mixture of Kompa/R&B/Techno -which seems to be catching steam. So I hope they stay steady and put the right marketing behind it to force the market to follow the trend. They seem to be doing just that as evidenced by this simple observation: Now all these newly-emerged bands out of NY want to sound like them. Let’s see how far and in what direction the CARIMI experience is taking the market.

In the 1980s, when ZOUK was invading our musical sovereignty, when it almost had KONPA on its knees, it was not because it was foreign; it was, rather, because it was different and revolutionary. In reality, ZOUK was and continue to be KONPA on diet, a sexy version of the hardcore KONPA we used to be playing back then, before the introduction and marketing of our KONPA LOVE. So during its inception in the 1980s, it was looking and sounding luscious and appealing. Therefore, everybody, including our KONPA artists, wanted a piece of it. Had it not been for the combativeness of radio hosts such as FELIX LAMY of RADIO NATIONALE (a great Haitian cultural patriot; peace be upon him), today, KONPA would have probably been on the shelf somewhere in our music conservatory; we could have been playing ZOUK.

Despite the fights to rescue, protect and defend our musical sovereignty, the impact and influence of ZOUK was so huge that it did not back away without leaving a dent on our market. Yes, the danger was contained, but it led KONPA to a new and revolutionary direction. The change could be felt in the emergence of an array of new bands and solo artists – ZIN, ZENGLEN (the Gary Didier Perez version), PHANTOMS, PAPASH, TRIOMEX, ZEKLE, DIGITAL EXPRESS, SWEET MICKY, FASAD, SKANDAL, TANTAN, ETC… –to which the name new generation Konpa was going to be credited. Then, the generational demarcation line was drawn on the sand. The market was then divided between the OLD SCHOOL KONPA and the NEW GENERATION KONPA.

KONPA has traveled a long way and been through many battles. And throughout its journey it has never stopped transforming, which is the reason why it still exists today. I am for a makeover of our music while keeping the fundamentals untouched. We should not and must not be afraid of transformation. Time is doomed to change and transformation, so must be anything and everything we do in life, including KONPA. Giving a facelift to our music does not mean that it will go away and that it will be substituted with something else. If we want KONPA to survive the first half of this century, we must not be resisting the change that is now being felt brought to us by such bands as CARIMI and T-Vice. We cannot stand before the change of time.  It is either that or else.