Sonson, the drummer of T-Vice

I did not know anything about this controversial statement by Sonson, the drummer of the Kompa band T-Vice, until a friend of mine suggested that I watch the video interview and address the controversy. I did promise to her that I will, so here I am placing it under my microscopic lens.

Patrick Desvarieux of, during a three-question video interview published on Sunday, December 12, 2010, had this exchange with the drummer.

P D: Are we better off being occupied by the United States, or let Haiti do what they gotta do?

Sonson: Hey, you really don’t want me to answer that question. No disrespect to the people over there, but I’m a United States citizen. Whatever happens over there happens over there; it happens for a reason. I always say everything happens for a reason. I think this is God doing his job or he’s doing his work because Haiti needs some real help… I live in the United States… I’m handling my business. Whatever they do there, they do there. I’m doing me. That’s it.

P D: So you don’t care about Haiti right now?

Sonson: No… no! I take care of my peoples in Haiti which are Lagonave –which is far away from all that trouble and all that BS. I take care of them; that’s it. Whatever happens to Haiti… if/whenever I go to Haiti, I go to Haiti to make my money and I leave. That’s it.

You can watch the complete video clip by clicking on this link:

Well, well, well… this is really sad for him to feel this way about Haiti. Though he makes himself a convenient target or a perfect prey for media assassination or crucifixion, I am not going to be too harsh on him. Being harsh on him, what for? Like most of us, I don’t think he was born and raised in Haiti to know much about the country, enough to develop a certain level of affinity for it.

I cannot blame him for feeling the way he does about the land of his mother and father. Listening to him, anyone with a great acumen can depict this degree of disconnect between him and Haiti. It is that obvious. For that, I don’t think he should be blamed. It is like asking him to care about Sudan -a country totally foreign to him, which he may not know anything about. Rather, I would definitely hold his parents accountable. For him to express such sentiment of insensitiveness towards Haiti, the country that gave birth to his father and mother, it could be that his parents have never wanted to see him associated with it.

Apparently, he does not feel related to Haiti in any shape or form, other than traveling over there to milk the cow. It is sad, but what can we do if the man was not raised to know about and appreciate his roots? For many Haitian parents, it is a step-up to raise their foreign born kids in complete ignorance of anything having to do with Haiti –the Creole language, the music, the lifestyle, etc… so that they can be proud -whenever they are talking to their friends and relatives -saying to them that their kids don’t speak Creole; “se blan yo ye wi. Yo pat fet Ayiti non. Yo pa konn yon mo Kreyol la kote w we yo ye la.”

Yes, he could have displayed more of a sense of maturity and been more politically correct like the rest of his bandmates in the way he formulated his answers, but then again you cannot ask the man to give something he does not have. Not everyone masters the skills of political correctness and media relations. Not everybody knows how to handle the media. Some people talk to the press like they are talking to their pals in the ghetto or in the streets. No, you cannot do that. There is a certain protocol to maintain. Konpa is not Hip Hop. We hold our artists to a higher standard. Some missteps will never be tolerated. So he needs to see this experience as a major PR setback so that he could allow himself to be schooled and grow. He is not alone in the category he finds himself. Many in this Kompa landscape would have done even worse. I hope they learn a thing or two from Sonson’s PR gaffe.

After damage control, on Monday, December 13, 2010, the artist issued this apology statement on to “clarify” his slip of the tongue. Read below his complete apology statement:

“Hi Pat,
I want to clarify some things that I said in my interview. I know my comments may have raised some concerns. First and foremost I want to apologize if I came off as being harsh and insensitive. I also want to apologize if my comments may have offended anyone, that was never my intentions. But I must admit that I’m not very good at expressing myself in front of a camera which is why I normally opt out to do interviews

I do care about the country in which my ancestors came from and my family who are still living there. When I made the comment about ” not caring”, it wasn’t in reference to Haiti; I just don’t care to comment on the political aspect of Haiti. In all honesty it really saddens and irritates me at the same time to see how our country can’t become one and we’re always ready to tear each other down. We’re always ready to destroy any possibility of good that we may have coming our way just because we have strong difference of opinions and so forth….

I really think that it would be a great idea if the US did step in to help create some type of order and put Haiti on the right path to becoming the old Haiti that our parents use to talk to us about. But its up to the old and young generation to get together instead of being against each other to fix our country. I’ve seen how rich this country (Haiti) really is in terms of resources but its a shame to watch how poor we’ve become!

Son Son


Retrieved on December 14, 2010 at 04:13 AM EST from


I’ve come across many people in many Konpa circles complaining about event promoters asking way too much for cover charges, which by all estimates range anywhere between $30 and $45. But what these people fail to realize is that these promoters for the most part set their charges according to their operating costs. So asking them to lower their cover charges would be to ask them to minimize their costs, which, in my humble opinion, is where the bulk of the challenge lies.

The objective of this piece is not to go around blaming sectors in the market; it is, rather, to present a comprehensive analysis of the situation and offer alternatives of solution. Also, since I am more aware of the reality in the Northeast market, my focus will be more on the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Boston markets.

In any free market environment, competition is the thermostat that regulates price fluctuations. In other words, when the market playing field is leveled for all the players, competition is basically the element that determines prices for products and services. And the successful entrepreneurs are those with the perfect grip on cost accounting and cost management for cost control and containment, for cost is the parameter that determines market outcomes.

It is not a secret that the recession is negatively impacting the lifestyles of most people in the economy. As a result, less people than usual can afford going out partying. While less people are turning out for party calls, the costs of putting a live out-of-area band -such as Nu Look, T-Vice, Djakout Mizik, DISIP or Zenglen -on stage at any convenient venue in the Northeast are skyrocketing. The promoters, unfortunately, are being made convenient scapegoats and blamed and slashed left and right as though they are overcharging their patrons.

The promoters or event organizers are in business to make money, if there is money to be made that is. With costs as high as they are, with any one of these aforementioned bands on the ticket, to break-even (we are not even talking about making a profit), these party organizers will have no choice but to raise their cover charges as high as 50 to 75 percent. Whenever we are talking about costs, the patrons/consumers/partygoers are always the ones to absorb the pressure of market uncertainties and price gouging. In other words, the high costs are always passed on to them. Something has got to be done to control costs, which, in turn, will make it possible to protect the pockets of the partygoers.

Let’s not fool ourselves, folks. The bands are not going to lower their fees for service just because they are asked to or people are complaining. It does not work that way in a free market environment. They need to be forced or constrained to do so. It is understandable for some of these popular out-of-area Konpa bands in the business to be asking anything from $6,000 to $8,000 as fee for service. It is about the economic reality of supply and demand. Because the demand for their services is going to the roof, they find it normal, and understandably so, to charge the promoters anything they want. And these event organizers accept the charges because they know they will be passing the burden on to the patrons. I am proposing a commonsense approach to fix this problem.

  1. The notion of having regular events with two or three bands on the ticket must be put to rest. It is not cost-effective, and it is definitely not beneficial to the attending patrons. Let’s say, for instance, a promoter decides to organize a party with Disip and T-Vice in New York or New Jersey. I intentionally select these two bands because they headquarter in Florida, not anywhere near our geographical area –New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Boston. The costs of putting such a party together could be in the range of $20,000 to $25,000. And let’s assume that the venue’s occupancy level is 600 people. That party organizer would have to charge at least $40 just to breakeven, just to make the invested capital; we are not even talking about making a profit. Anything below $40 would be running on a deficit. So that party organizer would have to overstretch his/her cover charge, should he/she want to make a profit. The patrons would be the ones to feel the heat the most, not the promoter and certainly not the bands. And the reason for that is because the costs are being passed on to them.
  2. The focus must be on investing in the local bands, meaning more efforts need to be made to stage the local bands –Carimi, Zin, System Band, etc. Call me market protectionist however you want; I strongly believe that the Northeast territory belongs to the bands in the area. Therefore, it does not make any sense for these bands from outside our territory to be in the area every weekend entertaining the people while some of our local bands are being neglected for the most part. No wonder the upcoming bands in the area are struggling to stay alive; they are not being encouraged to challenge themselves. I am not saying the out-of-area bands must not be touring the Northeast. That is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that we need to give priority to the local bands, should we want to lower costs and alleviate the burden being passed on to our patrons. Zenglen, Nu Look, T-Vice, Djakout Mizik, Disip, Harmonick, Kreyol La, Gabel, 5 Etwal, etc… are not playing a level of Konpa which Carimi, Zin, System Band, etc… are not playing. To think that the out-of-area bands are better suited to entertain the people in our geographical turf is a myth that needs to be challenged.
  3. Business sponsorship is another way a promoter can lower costs to alleviate the burden on the patrons. If you are going to have a party, it would make a lot of sense to go out there and find businesses to sponsor the event. Both the entertainment company and the sponsoring businesses will benefit from it. I don’t really know what the issue is, but it seems as though the concept of business sponsorship is not quite registered in the minds of our business owners. Again, if you are looking for sponsorships, why limiting yourself to only the Haitian-owned businesses? The Haitian community does not only do business with Haitian-owned business institutions. We do with businesses in the other communities. So why not going after these enterprises for sponsorships?

It is inconceivable and economically preposterous for any promoter to think that the recessive economy is not negatively impacting the ways the people live their lives. People are becoming more and more penny-conscious, yet you have promoters wanting to rob them of their hard-earned money. The time is right for a different approach to be put to test.

If the promoters are really intelligent as I believe they are, they will invest in the local bands to lower costs and alleviate the unbearable economic weight breaking the people’s backs. It is not that the regional bands don’t have what it takes musically speaking to give the same results as these out-of-area bands.

Charging the people $40 to come watch two out-of-area bands on a ticket (for instance, T-Vice and Nu Look or Zenglen and Disip) performing is not needed, not when the same amount of people could have turned out with only either one of the two bands on the ticket. With that, the patrons could get a break on the cover charge of as high as 50%. That to me would be economically compassionate and the right thing to do.


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.