Best Tracks of 2016
selected by Adolf Alzuphar

BélO <BR>“Pa ri nan male’m”

“Pa ri nan male’m”

Belo began his career during one of the bleakest times in Haitian history: the years of the left in power from 1994-2011. They promised a new dominant sensibility for national life, founded on the discourse they preached as opposition during the Duvalier dictatorships, especially in the songs and poems that they composed.

The writer of the song “Pouki” Lyonel Trouillot and its singer Manno Charlemagne, Radio Haiti Inter’s Jean Dominique were three of the era’s great names in leftist song. The Haitian left has long since crumbled politically. Culturally it still stands (because of the petit bourgeois origins of its leaders) and is that sensibility’s continuation, with songs about life in Port Au Prince.

“Pa ri nan male’m” comes off BélO’s latest album “Dizan”, which you can stream on Spotify and Deezer.

BélO on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter.

Bic Tizon Dife <BR>“Lapli Vini” feat. Cinthia Michel

Bic Tizon Dife
“Lapli Vini” feat. Cinthia Michel

Bic Tizon Dife (or just BIC) is a rapper from Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. He produces music that is considered to be rap kreyol, or Haitian indigenous rap.

Rap is beloved by the shanty towns but also by the Haiti’s elite and middle class: the first Haitian rapper, Master Dji, was of petit bourgeois origins. He practices social protest rap.

Featuring a guest singer Cinthia Michel, the song “Lapli Vini” comes from Bic Tizon Dife’s latest album called “Vokabi-Lari”, which you can stream in its entirety on Spotify.

Bic Tizon Dife on Facebook, Soundcloud.

Darline Desca

Darline Desca is the very best singer today of what Haitians consider to be Creole culture, the culture of descendants of French colonialism in the Americas.

Emeline Michel is the most well known name in Haitian Creole song. The French founded some of the first Opera houses in the Americas, leaving behind a tradition of appreciating artful song that descend from Opera singing, and that are written by poets.

This song was written by Daniel Supplice, a Haitian sociologist and cultural anthropologist, and it appears on Darline’s new album “Rendez-vous“.

Darline Desca on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud.

“J’ai Brûlé Les Étapes”

dISIp is fronted by Gazzman Couleur, one of Konpa music’s superstars. Konpa was founded in the 1950’s as music that had dark skin politicians, as opposed to the light skin ones who had dominated in government before a revolution in 1946, as patrons (in particular a Captain Lataillade who loved the song “Lenglensou,” a hymn to a Vodou deity.)

It is a music that has been used for propaganda but its best practioners play moral songs and love songs, when not playing riske humor. dISIp plays progressive konpa, for a broken society.

dISIp on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud.

Gardy Girault

Gardy Girault produces electronica with Haitian folk songs and other Haitian music.

In “Sole”, the guest singer James Germain is telling the Artibonite river, considered a deity, that Sole is sick.

You can stream the full song on Spotify and Deezer.

Gardy Girault on Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook.

“M’ap Marye”

Klass’s Richie is one of the great names in contemporary Konpa music. He is particularity talented at translating the tonality and humor in everyday Haitian kreyol language heard on urban sidewalks into well composed pop Konpa songs.

“M’ap marye” is an exclamation: a man is love with a woman enough to want to marry her and gives his reasons. It’s to the point, and matches Haitian popular culture, where pragmatism reigns and idealism is considered to be “literature.”

Klass on Facebook, Twitter.

“Peyi’m Pyeje”

Koudjay’s King Kessey died on Friday, Dec 9, 2016. He was a great figure of rasin music, pop vodou music.

His brand of rasin was a poignant political version of the music that left all in awe and wanting.

“Peyi’m Pyeje”, which means “My Country Is Trapped”, was his final carnaval song.

Koudjay on Facebook.

Nu Look
“Rien Que Toi”

Nu Look is led by Arly Lariviere, son of Daniel Lariviere who was one of Haiti’s greatest songwriters.

Arly is a singer of Creole Konpa, mixing the tradition of Creole music descending from the veneration of Opera and French chanson with Konpa, invented by Nemours Jean Baptiste who adapted Latin music (that share rhythms with Haiti from Vodou religion) into Haitian music.

Nu Look on Facebook, Twitter.

Orchestre Septentrional
“Sa Se Trop”

Orchestre Septentrional is one of Haiti’s two great orchestras, the other one being Orchestre Tropicana.

They are big bands founded during the heyday of big band culture in the US and in Latin America.

Orchestre Septentrional on Facebook, www.

Ram <BR>“Ogou O”

“Ogou O”

Ram is a rasin music band: they produce pop music versions of vodou music. Last year, they released a new album “Ram 6: Manmanm Se Ginen”.

Ogou is a Nigerian deity prayed to in Haiti and across the world. Ogou is the God of war and of blacksmiths, at a time the most powerful caste in the Nigeria of centuries before.

You can stream the song on Spotify and Deezer.

Ram on Facebook, Twitter.