If you have not caught up with young Haitian artists in Konpa lately, you may be in for a surprise. The music they play is funny, entertaining, and very creative. From Carimi's Bang Bang Bang, four years ago, to Konpa Kreyol's Gen Gen Geng which came out last June, young Haitian konpa musicians have shown they understand that playing the music is not only a self-satisfied endeavor but also a great way of communication and sharing pleasures with others. Gone are the long instrumental solos of jazzy days of a Richard Durozeau or Loubert Chancy. Almost everything is done with the listener in mind. The release of Gen Gen Geng by Konpa Kreyol last October is a good example. Just two tunes on it, Pou Ki Sa and Gen Gen Geng, are enough reasons to have a copy in your car or home.
Although the CD did not come out until October 2004, the gem tune on it, Gen Gen Geng, was out since June as a promotion for the CD
. Lo and behold, the pre-release of the CD was marred in controversies, the kinds that create hype as a marketing ploy. In September, all Konpa Kreyol (KK) management and Carimi management were on Haitian Music Internet tabloids sites explaining why one of Carimi guys, Carlo Vieux, the keyboardist and nemesis of Ti Joe Zenny, KK's lead singer, put his hand on a copy of the master tape of the CD before its public release. If you don't know, these two bands can no longer be put together to play a “bal” so much the competition between them is fierce. The last time they played at The Florville in Haiti, around last May, words flew, testosterones levels swelled, and only hired bodyguards prevented the fists from reaching their destinations: the faces. The Internet tabloids of the HMI (Haitian Music Industry) had a field week. Finally, the CD came out in October and it was worth the wait with typical KK (Konpa Kreyol) thoughtful and funny lyrics and full of short melodies, enough to make you keep your two hands up
in their party all night long. Although there are other enjoyable tunes for many tastes, I will comment on Pou Ki Sa, for its particular lyrics and Gen Gen Gen for its creativity. Ironically, Pou Ki Sa was written and composed by David Dupoux, Maestro, keyboardist, composer, and Gen Gen Geng by Joseph Zenny, Ti Jo, singer and composer. The two of them are the owners of the band and the “poto mitan” behind it composing together 9 out of the 11 pieces, excluding the carnival ones that gave no one credit on the CD.
Pou Ki Sa
#7 on the CD, duration 4 minutes
This is one of the most thoughtful lyrics by a Haitian band that is not about love of Haiti or Haitian politics. The tune opened with the sound of a gun shot, followed by the dialing sound of 911, the siren of ambulances, and the voices of paramedics in action. In the background of the sound effects is a wonderful short guitar melody reminiscent of the days when I dreamed of playing classical guitar. That melod
y is repeated at the end of the tune as well and is followed by one or two more melodies similar to it in the body of the tune. If you have been paying attention to Haitian konpas by recent groups lately, you would have noticed how much they use sound effects on their recordings. In some cases, the sound effects are wonderful additions to the music and lyrics. In Pou Ki Sa, they set the tone for the lyrics, although the latter are explicit enough not to leave any confusion about the theme of the song. You guessed it! The song is about an energetic and smart toddler who was playing with his parents' gun and shot himself accidentally. But the story is really about guilt. The guilt of a young brother who felt responsible he did not warn his parents about the potential lethal energy of his older brother. Strangely enough, the first name of the composer, David Dupoux, is the same name as David, the boy shot. But, overall, the whole combination of lyrics and short wonderful melodies make it a four minute delight t
o your ear that you want to repeat many times over. Loulou, real name Lohmann Jean, the guitarist, is superb in its classical trials here. David Dupoux as usual, charmed with its keyboard short and memorable melodies.
Gen Gen Geng
#1 on the CD, duration 4:35 minutes
Gen Gen Geng opened with a hearty laugh similar to the one you could hear in a movie on young boys putting their youthful energy on display. And it is the start of many more sound effects that include machine guns firing. In fact, the lyrics are full of images of American motion picture action dramas. The lyrics are devoid of any real issue, sort of antithesis to Pou KiSa, but at the same time the images in them create such an entertaining screen for a funny, melodious and entertaining piece of music making fun of the youth lifestyle. In Gen Gen Geng, Loulou and David again combine to make you dance, jump and raise your hands with joy. The trio, Ti Jo, David and Loulou are such a combination!
They are your dream-come-true when you go to a Haitian bal. Ti Jo is there to entertain you with its gestures imitating the sounds of the machine gun or leading the dancers on the floor into bending down and duck, mimicking the army defensive move when bullets are flying. All of the sound effects, motion picture images, keyboard and guitar melodic marriages coalesce to make four minutes of pure joy.
Although I gave you a brief comment on just these two tunes, you may find other on the CD that are also very enjoyable. Particularly, Sésame is very rhythmic while Dèyè Lakay is very funny, just to make a few other mentions. If you have not got your CD already, you better hurry to enjoy the creative works of those young Haitian artists. Rumors have it on HMI internet sites, they are breaking up. They had two events in January including one in Miami, at a music festival, where their members got involved in altercation. The incidents created a disagreement between the two “poto mitan” of the group, Ti Jo and
David, and their manager, Fabiola Dupoux Leger, David's sister. At the time of writing these comments, the news was not good, although not official. It is expected that by next week we will know whether New Year 's Eve was the last time I would see David and Ti Jo together making me dance like I have not done for years. It would be a pity if they break up.
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