It is no secret that we all, especially being Caribbean, love to rock to any beat we hear. There is always a new artist to explore, new dance to learn or something in equivalent surrounding music that fills us with joy every day. For this rendition of “Top 5 Chart Toppers”, we head to Haiti to explore, new and old, which artists are receiving the most streams by listeners.
Reigning queen of Haitian song Emeline Michel covers a lot of ground, writing songs that draw upon Haitian compas, twoubadou and rara as well as jazz, rock, pop, bossa nova and samba. Whichever direction Michel goes, her voice is clear and forceful as she dramatically imparts her political lyrics in Haitian Creole and French, offering up messages about AIDS, social justice and peace. While the singer has released a handful of albums as imports over a 15-year career, Rasin Kreyol, her Times Square records debut, is a standout that should help U.S. audiences catch up with the French speaking world that already adores her.
Hours and hours at the studio in the hopes of creating a new sound, one that was uncommon in the music industry at the time, the band found themselves putting on paper some profound, socially shared lyrics that encompassed the disorders of their native land. Instantly, Carimi became a household name.
They are known as one of the first younger generation digital bands to put out music that reflected upon the political pressures and the deteriorating security of Haiti. They had mass appeal to the Haitian diaspora who fled the country and through their allure lyrically, musically and sex appeal for the ladies, Carimi had thrived throughout the years.
Originated with 6, then had 9, before splitting up. They included:
Carlo Vieux: keyboard voice/leader
Richard Cavé: keyboard voice/leader
Michael Guirand: voice/leader
Glenny Benoit: bass guitar
Stanley Jean: tanbou
Noldy Cadet: bass
Marc C. Widmack: conga
Alex Thebaud: percussion, voice
Boukman Eksperyans is a mizik rasin band from the city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The band derives its name from Dutty Boukman, a vodou priest who led a religious ceremony in 1791 that is widely considered the start of the Haitian Revolution. The other half of the band’s name, “Eksperyans”, is the Kréyòl word for “experience”, and was inspired by the band’s appreciation of the music of Jimi Hendrix. The band was at the height of its popularity in 1991 when the presidency of Jean Bertrand Aristide was overthrown in a military coup d’etat.
Like many other artists and performers, Boukman Eksperyans fled the country to live in exile. During their time abroad, the band performed and spoke out against the military dictatorship of Raoul Cédras. In 1994, after Aristide was restored to power, the band returned to Haiti, where they continued to play concerts, record albums, and perform at the Carnival celebrations.
Wyclef Jean is a Haitian-American rapper and producer, known for his membership in the superstar hip hop trio The Fugees, and known now for a series of high-profile hit singles. Jean moved to Brooklyn, New York when he was nine, then to Northern New Jersey, where he began playing the guitar and studying jazz in his high school.
In August of 2010, Jean announced his intent to seek the presidency of Haiti. This move came after his increasingly high profile humanitarian work in the wake of the earthquake that devastated that nation.
Each month we will debunk different areas “Top Charters” so we can all become well versed, or even get introduced to something new to groove to.
If you have listened to any of the artists listed above, let us know how you felt about them. Do you have a favorite? What area in the Caribbean would you like to see featured next?