Haitian hip hop: Wikis


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Haitian hip hop is hip hop music originating from Haiti and sung by artists of Haitian descent. The most popular form of this is the rising of 'Hip Hop nan Kreyòl' or Kreyòl Hip Hop. Often, hardcore beats are used while the artist raps in kreyòl. Kreyòl hip hop, though relatively new, has become very popular with Haitian youth.

Many Haitian rap artists have had rough childhoods and difficult living conditions producing rappers in which socio-economic topics are spoken through their lyrics. Though similar to mainstream American hip hop in that materialistic imagery is portrayed or lyricized, the negative aspects of Haitian society for the less fortunate such as topics concerning slum life, gang warfare, the drug trade, and poverty are much more common.

The most well-known exports of Haitian hip hop have been two members of the legendary Grammy Award-winning hip hop group the Fugees, Wyclef Jean and his cousin Pras Michel (a.k.a. Pras). Most recently, Christopher FREEDOM Laroche released his inspirational debut album "Liberation 1804" which quickly gained popularity among the Haitian population. However the godfather of hip hop in Haiti is the late Master Dji who not only released the first Haitian rap song in the early 1980s but also he has been influential in pushing other young Haitians to become rappers, DJs, and breakdancers.

Kreyòl hip hop is one of the most powerful music genres to emerge from the Haitian community, during the late 80s. Individuals such as Master Dji and O.R.S, were some of the early pioneers of this art form. Master Dji, believed to be the founder of Kreyòl hip hop, brought it to national spotlights with songs such as 'Tann Pou Tann', 'Manmzel' and 'Politik Pam'. Even though the music gained commercial success with the explosion of Master Dji, some still find traces of Kreyòl hip hop, and Haitians rapping on beats way before Master Dji came to scene. For a while, Haiti started to embrace hip hop and also adapt it in other types of music, such as Konpa. But it all faded away when Master Dji died in 1994.


The Kreyòl hip hop movement

After the death of Master Dji, his legacy was not left forgotten, and Kreyòl hip hop was preserved by several artists from the underground. Haitian rap groups such as O.R.S, ASRAP, Masters and 33rd have tried real hard, to bring Kreyòl hip hop back to the mainstream by continuing what Master Dji started. However, Kreyòl hip hop is not perceived by many Haitians as an art form, but as a fad which they expect to die soon. Although some Haitian rappers gained some type of success, the music itself, never really had an impact on the mainstream due to a lack of understanding of hip hop. Throughout the years, the music has undergone many changes which led it to become what is know right now as the Kreyòl hip hop movement. With Haitian artists like Mecca a.k.a. Grimo, FREEDOM, Wyclef Jean, POWER SURGE, Mr OK, Benchoumy and Seca Konsa, the movement has taken major steps, and has rose back to the surface.

Kreyòl language - the background of Haitian Hip-Hop

Kreyòl is the national language of the Republic of Haiti; it is used for the everyday communication, as the symbol of their national identity. Kreyòl comes from a Portuguese word meaning "raised at home". It was first used to refer to Europeans born and raised in the overseas colonies. Than, it was later used for languages that arose from the plantations that the Europeans established, using slaves imported from West Africa. Kreyòl was a new language resulting from African slaves' efforts to speak the French that they heard when they arrived in Haiti. Slaves came to Haiti, from all over West Africa and spoke many different languages.

Hip-Hop's possible Haitian roots

Many believe that hip hop music comes from the griots of West Africa which were shipped to small islands such as Haiti during the slave trade. A griot is a West African poet, praise singer, and wandering musician, considered a repository of oral tradition. Hip hop music is related to the griots of West Africa, traveling singers and poets, whose musical style is considered the ancient form hip hop.

Haitian music was greatly influenced by French colonial ties and African migration through slavery. During the slave trade, the griots, kept their musical traditions, when they traveled to other countries, countries such as Haiti.

Many analyzing genres such as rara, or rasin, and even konpa, find traces of the griots and hip hop. The griots used to recite poems or talk over a beat led by the drum. Ansy Derose used to not only talk over his songs, but also recite poems at the end of his tracks; for example, one can see that in 'Lakay Mwen', where he recites a poem about Haiti. Going against most beliefs, hip hop has existed in the Haitian community for quite a while; it was just overlooked. Hip hop music comes from a combination of funk, disco, soul, jazz and blues. Funk is also incorporated in mizik rasin, along with rock. The main instrument behind hip hop is the drum which is probably the first instrument created in Africa. We also find the drum in music genres, such as Rara. Hip hop is also present in Zouk.

Zouk is another form of music which was followed by an influx of Haitian artists like System Band, Zin, Top Vice and Karess. who included rock and roll, hip hop and jazz into kompa, and experimented with novel lyrical content, such as feminism.

Hip hop

Did Hip-Hop originate from Haitian sounds?

Quote: "During a six-month period in 1809; 10,000 refugees from Haiti arrived at New Orleans. They had a profound impact upon New Orleans' development. Refugees established the state's first newspaper and introduced opera into the Crescent City. They also appear to have played a role in the development of Creole cuisine and the perpetuation of voodoo practices in the New Orleans area. More importantly, they were responsible for preserving the city's French character for several generations."

New Orleans is the state where jazz and blues were created in the late 1930’s. Around that time many people moved from New Orleans to northern cities such as New York, Chicago or Boston. The reason why they moved up north was to search for jobs, and opportunities. Through this migration came about the Harlem renaissance, also known as The New Negro Movement. The Harlem Renaissance was a period of self-expression in the African American community through art, literature, music and culture. It was led primarily by the black community based in Harlem, New York City, after World War I. They would value their heritage, and stand up for what they believed in. And from the Harlem renaissance and jazz and blues, came rock and roll, then disco then funk, then pop, and finally hip hop.

Hip hop’s history came from a long way, and has matured over the years. Hip hop music recreates itself non-stop and has blended with all types of other music. The music itself has traveled, from West Africa, to the West Indies, from the West Indies to the U.S, and from the U.S to all over the world; especially in places like Haiti, where the Kreyòl hip hop movement originally started.

Quoting Johny [sic] Jacques (who is considered a spokesperson for Kreyòl hip hop):

"Take the song 'Juicy Lucy' by Tabou Combo in 1984. Though it wasn't done in Kreyòl, it was some seriously entertaining Hip Hop. So please, before continuing on just keep in mind, this movement has been around longer than some of us. I truly believe Kreyòl Hip Hop in Haiti would have been only second to American Hip Hop today in popularity had it not been for our political turmoil in the 80’s which saw the disappearance of Haiti's middle class as well as chased away a lot of the art and culture in our society."


There are a number of prominent artists, producers, and entertainers, who are involved in or are key supporters of the Kreyòl hip hop movement. Some of the more notable:

Solo, blackbloodzz which includes members like YOUNG HIRE, IVES DA GP, ZOE-M, KENDY. O.R.B (B-D The Topmost & Top-Haitian),Barikad Crew,Kanibal Soldierz, ASRAP, Mr OK,RAP N FAMILY, Top Tchouko, Jimmy O, Wyclef Jean, Don Kato,TedyBoy,CBG, Brothers Posse, Easy One, 2 kondane, Muzion, Seka Konsa, Kafou inc, les anraje, Money Mike, Suicide, Neg Maron, Skyz da Limit, Kast-A-Way, dead poetz, Omega R.E.D, O.R.S, Throwback, Roll-d, lil dan, da scorpion, K-os,C.F.C, Jules, Soldier Boyz, Top Alderman, Voodoochild, Rockfam, Young Ace, Bélo, Freedom, Madman jp, belair, vilks, IBM, Benchoumy Elien Refugee Lokal, Zobino Squad, SIC, All Mighty Zoes, Dr Zoe, Family Senci, Stiches, Kertasy, Debonair, Frede Fresh Rap N Family, Metal Ice, Black Leaders, Zion Babies,Black Alex, Tru Rasta, King of Kings,Flex, Donelo P.S.B [bazmele.com]Other Haitian hip hop artists and groups include Christopher FREEDOM Laroche,Masters of Haiti, RockFam,Da Zoe Kiddz, Woodson V,MIC-J, BLACK JUDNOR, Sky'z Da Limit, DJ Frede Fresh, Twoface, Scorpion, Lil Dan, Ace, Red C Entertainment, Mystik 703, KZN (Klan Zanset Neg), Seca Konsa, Live Jam, Original Rap Staff, Boule MIC, Bennchoumy Elien, Jimmy O, Mecca Kasika 6, Mecca a.k.a Grimo Majik Click, Haitian Fresh, 2Double, ZoeBlood (FL$ AND DRAMA)www.ZoeBlood.com,Eud, NGS (Neg Getto Salomon), 33rd. Side, Benny Blacko, NXM, Lord Duice, Marathon, King Posse and Tony Manshino.Empress Beeju Excluding Haitian born rappers, there are Haitian-American rappers such as Tony Yayo of G-Unit, Pastor Troy, De La Soul rapper David Jude Jolicoeurand G-Unit member DJ Whoo Kid. For Haitian-Canadian, there is Imposs, for Haitian-French, Kery James and for Haitian-German, Torch (rapper)

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